I must share the excitement I am currently experiencing. You know...the joy you feel when a student blows your mind with something amazing. If you have never witnessed this effect, you might need to re-think your teaching methods.
Well, yesterday, my principal shared a cool new device Google calls ‘Cardboard.' Yes, it is just cardboard. But this one is packaged colorfully in Google style. She gladly handed it over to me.
I am an Elementary Instructional Specialist Technology Teacher. Whew! I teach, train, support, and plan collaboratively with teachers and students in the effort to integrate hands-on experiences and technology into classroom instruction. I also like to tinker and make. Students work alongside me during their recess times or after school to tinker and make as well.
Commercial over; back to my story.
So, I took the Google Cardboard into my after school class and handed it to one student. I was expecting many questions like what is this? What am I supposed to do with this? How does it work? Can you show me? No! I did not get a response at all. This student opens it up, figured out how to manipulate the box to simulate a viewfinder. Now came the puzzled look. His facial expression said what next? I had to provide some direction. Questioning is a tool I love to use with my curious students. I asked him where could we go to find out more? He quickly said the Internet and proceeded forward. He found the Google Cardboard site and discovered an app was needed. He downloaded the app, and my involvement was over.
But it didn't stop there. Here is where the excitement enters. This student wanted his very own cardboard viewer. Together we searched the Google Cardboard site and found how to purchase one. And then we saw where you can build it yourself. The student’s eyes lit up like he was just gifted with a new Playstation. He immediately started looking for materials he would need to create his own cardboard viewer. But we could find them all before dismissal. I promised him I would have the materials and tools needed for the next day.
Tomorrow was a little too late. This student could not stop thinking about what he could do if he just had the materials and time. Before he left the school building he had gathered a few, but not all of the materials needed to make his cardboard. He almost gifted himself some lenses from the Science lab, but I warned him against it. He got home, notified his family that he would working on something for school and did not want them to disturb him for about two hours (why for school?... that’s another conversation). He shared it took him three hours. He made his own Cardboard!
Again, if this does not excite you as an educator, you might want to re-consider your practice. Five days a week for about 180 school days, teachers enter a classroom and present new information and materials to students. We often benchmark and assess for understanding and mastery because it is good instructional practice and expected. But we seldom provide opportunities for our students to apply what they have learned. After all, how do we ever expect our students to practice the soft skills needed for the real world like creativity to innovate. Thank you Google for inspiring this child to do more than just doing school.
Interventionist Specialist Technology Teacher
Westwood Elementary/ Spring Branch ISD