Guest post by Jeanne Parent, MIE Expert, USA. Connect with Jeanne Parent on the Educator Community
I’m so proud of my father, who spent his entire working life as an inventor. When he would bring his patents home for us to see, I would ask him how he could possibly imagine his invention. His reply was to quote a proverb which states “necessity is the mother of invention”. Because he needed something, he would develop an ingenious solution. How does this relate to the Class Hack? I consider the Class Hack to be an ingenious solution for a situation which could otherwise be considered difficult.
The obvious use of a Class Hack is for pedagogy. For example, after assessing my students, I found a vocabulary deficiency, and then I tried to find a solution best fitting those children. I am definitely not a fan of copying words and definitions. So, the students used higher order thinking to think, pair, and share a definition. As each pair of students shared, I wrote the definition on an easel. While that led to a greater vocabulary acquisition, my biggest problem was that it took a lot of time. I thought about a solution, and my Vocabulary Hack with Sway became the new and time-saving think, pair, and share. As I gave pairs of students a vocabulary word, they would type the word into Sway, and pictures of the word would appear. Next, they would choose one of the pictures and then think and type a definition. On the shared Sway, the students’ definition became available to the rest of the class.
A less obvious use for a Class Hack is for classroom management. During my quest to redesign my classroom, I received a grant for a 21st Century Classroom makeover and then researched the best use for the money. Because I teach very young children, I had observed that some had trouble sitting still while doing paper tasks or even at the computers. With the money from the grant, I purchased tall tables for the laptops and tablets. The students could stand and move around while completing the technology assignments. While some teachers might consider the wiggly students as having a hyperactivity disorder, I found that most students simply needed to move. I discovered that I spent less time dealing with behavior issues and more time leading the children to learn!
Finally, I like the Class Hacks which are shortcuts for more time-consuming steps in a technology process. Examples of these shortcuts are the ones in Excel. If I have several cells where I want to add the same title, I use Control C for copy, and then in the cell where I want the same title, I use Control V for paste. In the same manner, I can use Control I for italics, Control B for bold, and Control P for print. Many more of these shortcuts are available.
As I have participated in Microsoft’s “Hack the Classroom”, my reaction is that of joy and exuberance for the new small changes which make a big impact in my lessons. There are so many different ideas, and I know that they are born of necessity. But, the teachers who have invented these Class Hacks are not your normal teachers. They are innovators who aren’t satisfied with the status quo and have a desire to see only the best from their students. Who benefits from these unique ideas? The short answer is “everyone,” including me!
Jeanne Parent is an accomplished educator who coached her school’s Student Technology Leadership Program who the Kentucky State Championship. She is an innovative educator focused on using technology to help students gain valuable 21st century skills including web design, graphic design, and digital storytelling. Connect with Jeanne Parent on the Educator Community
Sign up for the next Hack the Classroom livestream, happening September 24, 2016 from 8:00a.m. to 10:00a.m. PST, at aka.ms/hacktheclassroom.
To view last year’s top Class Hacks, visit the Microsoft Educator Community. To enter this year’s Class Hack’s contest, visit http://aka.ms/classhacks. The winning entries will be broadcast live on the September 24 Hack the Classroom event.