At this stage of the edtech revolution, most educators are focused on using tech to enhance lessons rather than on the tech itself. But many times, tech is only integrated at specific points in the classroom or with a specific tool as determined by the teacher. At St. Albans City School in Vermont, SETDA’s 2018 Student Voices Award Winner, educators encourage the students to find places in their everyday work to incorporate digital resources, especially from their makerspace. In the edWebinar “Students Leverage Technology Tools and Makerspaces to Personalize Learning,” Grace Borst, innovation specialist at St. Albans City School, and several of her students explained how they’re using technology for assessment, service work, and more.
St. Albans City School has a dedicated makerspace open to all students from preK-8. In addition to class assignments in the space, open lab time is also available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students use this time for school and personal projects where tech might not be required but could add value. Although they miss class for open lab, the teachers recognize the benefits of letting students explore technology to help them achieve their personal and educational goals.
Here are some examples the student presenters shared about how they’ve used technology at St. Albans.
1. Developing digital portfolios and personalized learning plans: Every student at St. Albans has a personalized learning plan, which they help drive throughout their time at the school. Instead of traditional report cards, students assemble digital portfolios to show their progress. Students upload their homework, projects, and even pictures. They’re also asked to constantly reflect on their work and submit reflections. For the students, the best part of the portfolios is that they can see how their work and their goals change not just within the school year, but throughout their time at St. Albans.
2. Guiding stewardship projects: All students at St. Albans belongs to a learning community, which covers two grade bands and works on a stewardship project for the whole school year. While the projects are service-oriented, such as building a pollinator garden and bee hive, the students use digital resources at multiple points to complete the project. For instance, students didn’t just research information about bees online. They had a bee robot that they learned to program to better understand bee behaviors.