“Why do wolves howl at the moon?”
“How do the machines move?”
“Why don’t haircuts hurt?”
Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes in the presence of a child has seen how instinctively and wonderfully curious he is about the world around him. Their developing brains observe and question the new, unfamiliar or confusing in an attempt to understand the world and their place in it. Such exploration is the key to learning. But if you’re anything like me, your K-12 experience has focused more on educational standards than creative exploration.
Education is complicated. Schools and districts are tasked with addressing many challenges – from classroom management and test scores to student safety and emotional well-being. Not surprisingly, then, the more creative and exploratory elements of education sometimes take a back seat. Still, we know that teachers see them as essential.
by GoGuardian research team recently conducted a survey of educators from 40 countries to gather information on teaching practices that drive student engagement. The responses revealed that, when it comes to engagement, teachers value learning experiences that appeal to the whole child – creatively, cognitively and emotionally. Of all outcomes, creativity and self-expression were rated highest for their perceived impact on student engagement.
Thankfully, the prevalence of technology in education offers us a powerful opportunity to mitigate many of the challenges our schools are facing and help students reach their full potential. With carefully developed tools, we can make quality teaching more effective and enable teachers to create educational experiences that inspire students.
In GoGuardian, our philosophical belief is that students are inherently curious, and it is a matter of supporting teachers and schools to enable the right set of educational experiences. Our goal is to help educators deliver impact in some key areas:
Create active learning experiences that promote self-expression
What happens when students are given more options to interact with the content and demonstrate their learning? Research has shown what tools like bunch of pears that support active learning can improve equity, reduce achievement gaps and help improve school culture. When students are able to demonstrate their thinking in various ways and hear their ideas discussed in class, student engagement and confidence increase. Teachers ‘out-of-box thinking, in the way they teach, provide information and collect student work, supports students’ creative output.
Improve student-teacher relationships
Technology can never replace the teaching role, nor should it ever be the goal. Students who are connected and feel supported by their teachers are more likely to develop a growth mindset and improve their socio-emotional skills. Technology can offer teachers a connection point with students for support and engagement, whether they are in a physical classroom or learning remotely.
GoGuardian Teacher and Pear Deck allow teachers to provide personalized and private feedback on student work, guiding metacognition for those on their way and better supporting those who may be struggling. These moments of connection help teachers build trusting relationships with their students, which improve classroom climate and learning outcomes.
Protect students with well-placed guardrails
Technology opens many doors, but not all doors are safe or suitable for students to walk through, especially during class. With tools like GoGuardian Teacher and GoGuardian Beacon, schools can keep students focused on learning while ensuring they have the support they need in the event of a crisis. With adequate guardrails, digital learning environments are safer and more productive, allowing students to explore their interests and curiosities more freely.
Amplification of student voices
Encouraging broad class participation is a familiar struggle for many educators. And the lack of feedback from students raises real concerns: Are students involved in the lesson? Do they have an interest in their own learning?
Students can hold back in class discussions for many reasons: shyness, lack of confidence, not understanding the content or questions, etc. They may not want to risk embarrassment or they may think about the question more deeply than their peers.
Classroom technology, such as Pear Deck and GoGuardian Teacher, offers space for more students to share thoughts, ideas and knowledge at the pace that works for them. Teachers using Pear Deck, for example, can choose to control the pace of a lesson or give students more freedom. For synchronous work, Pear Deck’s Lock Timer encourages teachers to slow down and allow for different processing times. Educators using GoGuardian Teacher can also see students working in real time, so even if a student never raises their hand, their teacher can be sure they are tuned in and making progress with the rest of the class.
The future of digital learning
K-12 education will always experience challenges, but each one presents an opportunity to spark curiosity, foster engagement, and advance learning outcomes for all learners. As the learning landscape continues to change, digital learning tools must keep up, supporting teachers every step of the way and leaving room for more creativity, more curiosity and more wonder in the classroom.