Ashrita Johnson discusses the importance of technology in the classroom

Matter + Form & Ashrita Johnson

What would you be, if you could be anything? Children in the classroom today will be entering a world that none of us can visualize. In the face of that, it becomes imperative for academia to equip students with the ability to adapt and to embrace the unfamiliar.

For Ashrita Johnson, a teacher at the American School of Bombay, developing an environment in which students’ creativity, understanding, and thinking can flourish is essential. But she’s fighting to change a flawed system, “My education didn’t have any room for creativity – we had to memorize lengthy answers given to us by the teacher and repeat them verbatim in the examination to receive full credit. As time went on, I began teaching my stuffed animals through role play and music and movement. Little did I know back then, that I would be continuing to do that every day as part of my job.”

Obviously, finding ways to get your students to be more creative requires some creativity on a teacher’s part too. But she isn’t fazed, “Education can kill creativity and it is our duty, as educators, to make sure that it doesn’t. I consider myself lucky to be working at a school that promotes innovation and even allots a budget to teachers wishing to prototype a new idea. I have the autonomy to try out different apps and tools that give the children an opportunity to explore a concept creatively instead of having all the information front loaded to them.” To learn more, read on:

SPARK VIDEO:

At the start of the year, I spend time getting to know my students, their likes and dislikes and then transform my classroom into a learning environment that they feel reflects their personal interest.

Apps to show learning are an integral part of my process and Spark Video makes it extremely easy for young children to present their understanding of a concept. The templates available in the form of a slide show make it very easy for kids to use. They can click pictures, choose from camera roll or use the inbuilt icons and add a caption. Each child can choose their own unique layout, music, and themes promoting individual creativity. When complete, children can publish their slideshow in the form of a movie and share through a variety of mediums – which makes it interesting for everyone.

SEESAW:

Seesaw is an e-portfolio platform that enables children as young as 5 to be in charge of their own learning. They are able to independently upload their work, which enables self and peer reflection and makes it possible for parents to comment on a regular basis instead of waiting for an open house. It has a range of features – photos, videos, drawing, audio recording, and links – which allow for differentiated learning.

It’s fantastic because it teaches children 21st-century skills: recognizing their wow work and choosing what goes on Seesaw. It allows for meaningful and constructive feedback, accepting peer feedback positively, coming up with creative captions and self-reflection. It also makes it possible for teachers to create an activity for students to complete at their own pace, which in turn can be assessed at any time and place. It doubles up as a blog, rubric and announcement forum.

FOLDIFY:

Working with kindergarteners, you need to have a lot of patience to answer their questions – no grown-up will ask you what your third favorite reptile is. But their curiosity can be used to leverage learning.

Foldify is a unique app that enables children to creatively design their own 3D shapes in a fun way which can be printed and folded. It offers different templates for different types of figures. This tool enables all children to create shapes using their geometry knowledge even if they do not have great drawing skills. It’s engaging because once all the children have created, printed and folded their shapes, they put their shapes together to tell an original story in an innovative way.


Published as part of our Rule Of Three series.

Images by Jessica Kilbane.
Inputs by Ashrita Johnson.

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