~ James Bryant Conant
Recently, for our grade 9 summative assessment for the immigration unit, my colleague and I asked our students to answer the following question: How does immigration benefit Canada? Instead of the traditional (and safe!) essay assignment, we asked students to use the Aurasma app to share their knowledge. They had to create a target image on paper that visually represented their main idea, and then using the app they connected their image to a videotaped speech where they expressed their views orally. This was a risk for both the teachers and the students … most of us had NEVER even used the app before, but were interested in the idea of augmented reality and wanted to give it a try in the classroom.
Other risks that were taken during this project:
- Our classrooms became mobile – students came and went between our rooms for supplies, and worked in pairs in the hallway, foyer, conference room, or other quiet spaces to record their speeches on the iPads.
- Students who had prior experience with the Aurasma app became the “experts” or teachers in the room.
- Students quickly got over their fear of oral presentations when they realized they could simply hit delete and then re-record their speech until it was “perfect”.
Was doing the assignment this way worth the risk? You bet! Students were engaged, assignment completion and submission was 20% higher than usual and the final products were of high quality and demonstrated understanding.
So, what did I learn today? I was reminded that teaching and learning, or making progress, always involves taking a risk!