I took on the teacher librarian role as an opportunity to collaborate with all the enrolling teachers at my school and as a way to really get to know all the students. I also was excited about the ability to integrate technology during our classes’ library times.
While I know that technology is to be used as a tool for teaching and isn’t a magic solution to all children’s learning needs, I have never really experienced students not wanting to use technology!
Well, in come a group of 4th graders and I excitedly revealed to them that I would be pulling out the iPad cart for them to find more information on the different birds we read about. My announcement was followed by cheers and clapping; they could not wait to get their hands on the iPads! After searching on Google for a few minutes, one student nervously asked, “Are we allowed to go on YouTube?” Me: “Uh, yes, of course!” The library suddenly was filled with bird song and a lot of sharing. We watched videos of robins hatching, a warbler singing, a sparrow building a nest, and many more. So much engaged learning was happening! I was about to pat myself on the back, for a job well done, but then beyond the sea of happily engaged students I spied a group of boys on the carpet at the back of the library… with no iPad… and they were not talking about birds!
Me: “Boys, do you want an iPad?”
Boy 1: “No, I don’t like iPads?”
Me: “Well have you used one before?”
They all nodded and sneered in my general direction, not wanting to make any eye contact.
Me (totally thrown off and not sure where to go with this awkward situation): “Okay… Uh, hmm…”
And then it dawned on me, we were in… A LIBRARY!!
“Do you want to look at books about birds?”
They all nodded eagerly and stood up. I then skipped over to the 598 section (yes, I am becoming a Dewey Decimal System Master!), showed them where the bird section was and they happily looked at the books until the end of their library time… engaged in learning.
Now that was unexpected! The boys looking at books were just as engaged in their learning as their classmates who were using iPads. This was a big reminder that technology isn’t for everyone and it is just another option as we differentiate instruction for our students. Forcing every student to use technology to learn and present their learning is just as ineffective as forcing every student to all use pencil and paper and books in the library!