Day 84 (of 184) inquiries of learning: anxiety + technology

Day 84 (of 184) inquiries of learning: anxiety + technology

Today I had the opportunity to work with one of the teachers in my school (and several other teachers) as part of a Teacher Inquiry Project focused on “Ways to Engage Students in their Learning”

To me the key statement has always been “THEIR” – as I strongly believe that if students have ownership in the learning process, they will see it as ‘theirs’ and then be engaged.

Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) has been a phenomenal inspiration with his “Teach Like A Pirate” book/methodology that goes out of the traditional way of teaching into creating lessons that are performances. Not to make the teacher the centre of attention, but as a way for his students to be connected to their learning; to see relevance, to see themselves as part of the ’show’ that is learning – and not being confined to the traditional ‘brick and mortar’ building that is his school nor the 4 walls that typically make up a ‘classroom’. Learning is so much more than just being a ’sage on the stage’ – learning is much so much more when they are engaged and find the learning relevant and meaningful.

At our school, anxiety is key. As is bringing in technology. Now to see if and how technology can help reduce anxiety within the learning process…..

Possible question for our inquiry: how has technology reduced the need for self-regulation in your learning (ugh – this feels very clunky)

But coming out of some phenomenal educators (including @JLHALBERT & @lkaser via their Spirals of Inquiry book) is the idea to ‘follow a hunch’ (don’t fall in love with it as sometimes hunches are wrong/off, but feel free to follow it and see where it goes…and my ‘hunch’ (based a lot on what I have seen in past decade) is that technology does/will indeed reduce (some) anxiety for students to learn (or more specifically share their knowledge). Ugh – this is feeling clunkier!

We are seeing some students (but not all) self-regulation become ‘easier’ (i.e. using an iPad to use voice-to-text for one child) but now we are wondering:
a) will the students be able to reflect upon the change (so far and ongoing)
b) how much of a factor is environmental anxiety and will those ongoing ‘influences’ have too great an impact for a technology intervention.
c) how much is the ‘at-home’ factor (if things are good at home and things improve at school at the same time tech is introduced…..)

And going through a re-think (especially since inquiry requires a strong reliance on feedback loops and I’m not happy with our question….) starting to think about ‘what we want at the end’ to mold our ‘hunch’.

….can students have ownership and use technology to help them reduce anxiety to show their learning….

Will the technology help them to manage their anxiety, or is that a perk if they have managed their anxiety (what would each look like?)
What will we look for? Office visits? Tracking visits to our Self Regulation Model Classroom (to get a fidget)? Articulating needs? Student self-disclosures (already had one student explain to me how the iPad Voice to Text ability is allowing him to feel that he is better able to communicate) Is there/should there be a survey around anxiety?
Do we go subject specific?? Or output specific?

But what influence does ‘what we are doing in our classrooms’ also have on the anxiety:
no tests; group work options; adaptations for individual learners; allowing different locations for work to be done in; etc.

Is reducing anxiety to ‘airy-fairy’ as it is tough to ‘measure’ and not very concrete…beyond ‘lets make kids less anxious’…

How much ‘its the teacher’ that makes the difference – and does the tool play a role?

I think we can agree that ‘the teacher’ is crucial. Can we look at how ‘they/we’ are using technology’ to show how these adaptions that the technology allows has a role in reducing anxiety (but not qualifying how much of a role). Technology is A tool that helps reduce anxiety, but not in isolation. There are other interventions (depending on the source of the anxiety…)

How: (?)
Allow (all) students to ‘choose’ their technology as they have had in choosing fidgets for general self-regulation?
Interview students about their reflection on using technology.
—> Focus on the ‘most-anxious’ students and give them specific (guided) opportunities. (what’s good for the most anxious is good for all; whats good for all may not be good for anxious learners).

We are going to target about 4ish learners in each class to track and support – using a tally sheet to track he emotional disturbances (crying) and review some of the anxiety indicators and each day reflect on ‘what did we see’ with each student.

We’ve got some good plans to go forward with! To look at how technology has a role in reducing anxiety will be an interesting journey!

Cycle/Phases of Inquiry

Action Plan – What Will I Do
Data Collection
Data Analysis
Plan for Future Action What will change?

The power of our inquiry process has led us to some good direction – we are proud of how our #geniushour activities have engaged our learners, and are now excited to get some student feedback around specific uses of our anxious learner as they are using the technology that we are providing (iPads/Desktops primarily) and what devices they Bring On Their Own (iPads/iPod Touches primarily) throughout their learning experience.


About technolandy

Educator in BCs Sunny Shuswap Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback
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