What does Black History Month mean to you?
Each year, Black History Month provides me an opportunity to work to bring cohesiveness and unity to the African-American community. This past year, I took graduate level course work on African-American history and created lesson plans for elementary students. The significance of Black History Month for me is that it allows for us to have thoughtful conversations and share stories from all parts of the country to gain a grasp of the celebrations and challenges that have been experienced.
How did you incorporate Applied Digital Skills lessons in your classroom to celebrate Black History?
With the theme for Black History Month being “The Black Family” this year, I wanted to find a way to integrate this topic into my classroom. For my students, it starts with being self-reflective. I want my students to truly understand who they are and where they come from. The Create a Virtual Family Reunion in Google Slides lesson allowed my students to explore their own family history. This project helped them build a digital family album and connect with loved ones during these times of uncertainty. Everyone contributing to the project was able to go at their own pace. My students connected with each other in class and their families across the globe. I loved this lesson so much that I used it with my own family!
My students connected with each other in class and their families across the globe.
Which digital skills do you think are most important for students to have overall?
Since March of 2020, educators have been teaching online in some capacity and my classroom is no exception. The biggest challenges that we saw students face early on were the basic skills of being able to sign in with their usernames and passwords, manage their time, and self-advocate digitally. There is a common misconception that because students know how to access technology for games, streaming videos on YouTube and listening to music that they are experts with technology. This is not at all the case.
During this time, my role evolved to supporting students with effective ways to handle their digital needs. My focus was on students being able to recognize additional uses for the same skills across their classes. I had one student who was fascinated in being able to conditionally format spreadsheets to create pixel art. I used the Make Art with Google Sheets lesson with my students and they were able to acquire an understanding of the basics for visually organizing data in a spreadsheet. Students were then able to apply the skills from this lesson to their math and science courses.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of using Applied Digital Skills lessons with your students?
For my students, they are learning basic digital skills that can be transferable for any class. Students have the ability to work at their own pace and personalize the lessons to topics of their interest. In Applied Digital Skills, the skills taught are what students can actually use for the rest of their lives.
From a teaching perspective, Applied Digital Skills has made parts of teaching a lot easier. The majority of my grading is in real-time, organized and easy to access. The lesson videos provide clear instructions and visuals for how the students can complete each step. Applied Digital Skills has allowed me to gain a whole new digital expertise as well.
In Applied Digital Skills, the skills taught are what students can actually use for the rest of their lives.
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