Gifted Students Creating in Mission Control

Tech Tools and Creativity
Posted on 05/07/2020
Image of Rosie Hollister(Maria Lindsay for Akron.com/West Side Leader)

Fourth- and fifth-graders in the gifted program, Mission Control, at Akron Public Schools’ Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts are responding to online instruction with creativity and growing independence, according to Gifted Intervention Specialist Kate Krosse.
Krosse oversees 36 fourth- and fifth-graders in two classes of math enrichment and three classes of gifted reading at the school. She stated the use of technology in remote learning instruction for those classes has been instrumental in continuing her students’ education.

Krosse added she relies on: Google Classroom, which offers students access to assignments and a schedule for the week; Google Meet to offer daily digital office hours where students can log-in to ask questions about assignments and also for live and interactive activities and lessons, which she said “students definitely enjoy” because they can see and interact with each other; Screencastify, which is being offered free to teachers during this time, to record presentations about class announcements and digital interactive lessons that may be viewed at any time during the week; Byrdseed.TV for premade, engaging, differentiated lessons that include follow-up activities; and WeVideo for education, which also is currently being offered free to teachers and students, to provide a video editing program that students can use to collaboratively create short presentations.

Krosse stated she also relies heavily on Dojo.me, a digital student portfolio component of the free class management app ClassDojo, which allows students to post “teach it” videos where they teach a mathematics task as a follow-up to a class lesson. She added Dojo.me is a student favorite.
“Students have generated creative ideas for teaching, including using dry erase boards, chalk boards, diagrams, etc.,” said Krosse. “I then post comments to their video posts for feedback. Students also post pictures of completed work on paper, videos of themselves reading out loud and discussing strategies for playing different math-based games.”

While technology has been a boon at this time, Krosse noted the current heavy reliance on technology is presenting new issues.

“My students have much experience with utilizing tech tools in my classroom and that has proven beneficial during this time of adjustment,” she said. “But it has been a challenge to create a balance between the use of technology and doing something without it.”

Krosse explained that, as a result, she looks for ways to get students to use other forms of learning besides technology. For example, she gets students “up and moving” by having them make the teaching videos through Dojo.me. She stated students have incorporated jokes, theme songs and more, and are “very interactive.”

Krosse said one student used a dry erase board and an animated voice to “teach” while another student used a chalkboard-painted wall, colored chalk, shapes and drawings to make her instructional video more animated.
She added the use of technology and home learning is producing other positive results.

“It’s been a pleasant surprise to see students working to figure things out on their own more — doing problem solving in a more independent way,” she said. “They have positive attitudes, are committed to doing the tasks and putting effort into it.”

While remote learning is “still in a transition period,” managing a variety of classes can be a challenge for students, said Krosse. She added Google Classroom is helping students get organized for learning, as teachers post assignments and a schedule of class for the week on Monday morning.

Krosse said the cancellation of state testing is also having a positive impact on learning.

“I usually devote three to four weeks just on test preparation activities,” she said. “Now that that is no longer a focus, it has opened more time to provide creative learning opportunities that give students a chance to show mastery through a less constrained framework. Remote learning is not a substitute for in-person learning, but we are doing our best, as that is all we can do at this point.”

Image of Emma Rambler and Peyton White  
Image of Rosie Hollister

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