Utilizing Digital Resources: Providing Scaffolded Instruction for Creative Exploration

2. Instruction– The teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students.

2.2 Engaging Students in Learning
Most activities and assignments are appropriate to students, and almost all students are cognitively engaged in exploring content.

When planning lessons that are engaging for students, it is important to provide them with periods of exploration and research, allowing them to discover new knowledge. Utilization of technological resources in the classroom can allow educators to provide students with creative ways to explore their learning. Standard 1 as outlined by the 2007 ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS•T) and Performance Indicators for Teachers (2008) is as follows:

  1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
    Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments.

    Teachers:
    1. promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness
    2. engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources
    3. promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes
    4. model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments (The ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (p.1)

While looking for opportunities to allow students to use technology in the classroom, it is also helpful to think of steps to help guide student creativity, to help them better understand a creative thinking process prior to utilizing technology. For example, Buckshaw & Lyon (2011) show a variety of scenarios where students are allowed to explore utilizing technological resources. In one example, students were evaluating their classroom experiments using a PowerPoint slideshow. The teacher was interacting with the software and the students were very engaged. The kids ended up learning how to interact and use the software drawing tools themselves “…so they could point out the information as they were sharing what they remembered” (p. 1). This is a great example of students using technology as a resource or tool during a constructive learning assignment.

Furthermore, many students may not know how to use the technology available to them or may not have been previously exposed to creative thinking and planning. The teacher therefore should outline lessons to promote creative thinking and teach the creative thinking process to students. Students should understand that the technology available to them is a resource or a tool to get a job done. For example, an architect isn’t going to immediately use Autocad to design a building. Instead, they will go through a creative process, surveying the area and outlining a system of design steps to plan out the project. Throughout the course of the architectural process, a variety of technological tools and resources will be utilized to produce the architectural package that will be approved by their client and bid out to contractors. Students need to understand what resources are available to them, how to use those resources, how to think creatively, and how to follow a process utilizing their resources to solve problems.

I’ve seen students study a pond over the course of several weeks in order to witness the changes in pond populations. Students were introduced to simple concepts over the course of the school year, such as how to create a hypothesis and how this can develop into a theory. They were introduced to different resources on a variety of assignments such as Google Docs, cell phone apps, lab tools and resources, laptops with special login information, the computer lab and library, and so on throughout the course of the school year. By the time the class began the pond study, they knew the resources available to them, they were provided multiple opportunities to use the technology, they understood how to form a hypothesis and test it while also working in cooperative groups; they learned a variety of processes relating to the field of science and were able to follow those processes creatively with flexibility.

As found in our reading this module by Jang (2009) while observing web-based technology integrated into science project, “…the teaching method of integrating technology into the design of the real-life experience activities is conducive to students’ creativity” (p. 253). Similarly to the pond project, the students observed by Jang were able to utilize technology to enhance their learning. Some students in this study also struggled with technology, having difficulty using software and other digital resources. This therefore further implies the importance of teaching students how to use these tools prior to free exploration. The diagram below outlines this process simplistically. By exposing students to these resources and information throughout the school year, they were prepared to explore the pond ecosystem more freely (with additional guidance from their teacher) as they might in the adult world. They interacted with each other, explored and discovered as the ecosystem changed, and documented their data and findings using digital resources.

Guiding_Student_Creativity_When_Using_Technology_in_the_Classroom-2References:

Buckshaw, L. & Lyon, A. (2011). Integrating technology and science. Education World: Connecting Educators to What Works. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech233.shtml

The ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS•T) and Performance Indicators for Teachers (2008). International Society for Technology Education. Retrieved from http://www.iste@iste.org

Jang, S. J. (2009). Exploration of secondary students’ creativity by integrating web-based technology into an innovative science curriculum. Computers & Education, 52, 247-255. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2008.08.002

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