Thursday, May 19, 2016

Making the World Smaller with SMART amp

Teaching is my passion. I love it! I love changing things up, trying new techniques out, seeing my students faces light up when they ENJOY learning or get a new concept. I love teaching!

So lost with out my students!
As of this moment, I am off on family leave and missing my students terribly! So when I can (and I do often!) I check in with my students through technology. 

One of my favorite ways is with SMART amp. SMART amp is SMART Technologies internet based, interactive program for people to work and learn together. Think of it as a BIG room where we can play. SMART gives so many tools within amp that students (children or adults) don't have to leave the space. It's all within the space, including a chat feature, YouTube, links, assessment, graphics, and so much more.

But I think the best part is the collaboration amp automatically lends itself to. Within amp you have to collaborate. There is no way around it. Students must work together to complete their task. Plus, with the sharing feature, amp spaces are even easier to share between students in your class and beyond.   

With SMART amp I am able to check in and chat with students from home, as are my students, which they do and LOVE! Plus, the first time I check in with my students, it freaks them out! Even though I tell them I can see everything, they forget I can and am a part of their amp team and can collaborate with them. Which also reminds them to stay on task. Double win!

Anne Frank and Diversity SMART amp space
In addition to "checking in" with my students, the use of SMART amp makes the world smaller and more accessible. Students in small town Oakdale are not always able to travel to far off lands. Sure, we have the internet and Google to check things out. But those cannot replace conversations and interactions with the people who live in those far off places. This year teaching eighth grade, I was finally able to teach Anne Frank. I have always loved WWII history, and Anne Frank is no exception. And through the magic that is the SMART Exemplary Educator Program and the SEE Summit, I just happened to have a friend who lives in the Netherlands, Boris Berlijn! With his and his students help, our students were able to collaborate through SMART amp and learn about each other's culture, the diversity within each culture, and how diversity in 1943 affects life now. 

Boris's Culture SMART amp space
And now, my students are helping Boris's students with culture in Oakdale and the US! Truly, learning at its finest when collaboration happens! Even better when worlds collide and we feel connected. Learning at its most powerful!

In the end, being connected to other people truly brings us together. Brings us closer to each other, and to our learning. My students learned so much more because there are tools out there to bridge the gap and connect people. We are better together and SMART amp has done just that. Brought us together to be better learners, more understanding, more compassionate, and excited about connecting.

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