Oct
11

Valuing children as experts

Filed Under (1:1 Deployment, iPad Learning, Literacy) by on 11-10-2012

iPads in class often put children in the driving ‘expert’ seat. My attitude to new apps is generally not to understand them inside out first. I find that constricts my idea of an outcome and tends to waste valuable time trying to ‘teach’ them how to use it. So I tend to have a general idea of how it might work and let children explore and teach me. It has happened often in the last 4 weeks.

However today it wasn’t the functionality of the app that made the children the ‘experts’ today – but knowledge of a deeper level. We use Dictionary.com a lot. Not just as a dictionary, but also as a thesaurus to extend vocabulary. It has worked well with our Pie Corbet models of teaching/learning and shown improvements in the language used in even a short space of time.

Today we were exploring how writers use character descriptions to tell us not only what characters look like, but to give us clues about their personalities as well. The more able children were asked to take the text we had been looking at as a class and change the character by only changing the adjectives in the text. As part of the task explanation I admitted to the children I was struggling to find the word that meant other words with ‘opposite’ meanings. Immediately several hands shot up. They all said the word I needed was ‘antonym‘. Rather surprised (embarrassing admission, but I don’t think I’ve ever used the word!)… I asked how they knew. They all said that when they have been using the app Dictionary.com looking for synonyms, that at the bottom of the selection were a list of words with opposite meanings and that they had a heading of antonyms! Independently they had worked out what this had meant but until that point, and my admission, had not had the opportunity to show or share their knowledge. Guaranteed that that would not have happened by using the standard issue of thesaurus we have in school.

I was really proud of them and hope there are many more moments when such ‘expert’ knowledge occurs. I envisage when they start to go home, enabling children to have more ‘experimental’ time, that their ability to use them more expertly will very quickly supersede my own level of skill! I guess my role as a fascilitator will have to be more finely honed to guide their skills to extend and deepen their knowledge.

 



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