I was thrilled with the number of parents/family members who attended the feedback session by the Digikidz. I found the session highly beneficial for a number of reasons. The Digikidz delighted in demonstrating their skills with confidence and enthusiasm. The parents were able to ask questions, some of were not anticipated and sparked interesting discussion, such as: How were the Digikidz chosen? With the Action Research project finishing at the end of the Term will the Digikidz group continue? What do you see as the benefits to this?
I was able to answer the first question fairly easily - for lots of different reasons! Having taught a lot of the children I consulted with each class teacher and made some suggestions so together we chose 2 children from each class. The boy/girl ratio is quite equal with 9 boys and 7 girls in the group. The children needed to fit certain criteria - be kind, helpful, quick to pick up new skills and not too controlling. It was not necessary to be hugely skilled in ICT but I didn't choose anyone who finds ICT very challenging. Some children were chosen to participate as a way of extending them as they were achieving well above expectation for their age across the Curriculum, others because we thought it might benefit their self-esteem because they struggle in the core Curricular areas, some shy and quiet children were chosen to encourage them to build their confidence and others simply because we thought their personality suited the role and they were friendly with the other Digikid in their class.
With regard to the Digikidz continuing next Term. The children have been successfully upskilled in: using the easi-speak; digital camera to take photos (Year 1 and 2); digital camera to record video (Year 2 only); microphone headsets; voicethread; photostory; kid pix to draw pictures and record sound, to create slideshows and animations; blogging; accessing class and year level areas on KnowledgeNET; sounds great and smart phonics programs. So they don't really need to do anything else! If it is possible to continue re-visiting these programs and using the different tools to help the children retain their learning that would be beneficial. However, if the class teachers increase their integration of ICTs into their everyday practice the Digikidz should maintain their current levels of expertise. Plus if the Digikidz are working in different classes to support other children with their eLearning that will also help keep their skills sharp.
At the beginning of this project I guessed that there would be benefits to implementing Digikidz, however, I didn't realise exactly how successful it would be nor did I realise all the benefits which I have observed. All the quiet and shy children have benefitted as have the children who struggle in other areas of the Curriculum. They show increased confidence, independence, initiative, leadership and willingness to take a risk because they know they are really good at being a Digikid and they have teachers and their peers praising them and regularly seeking their expertise. All the children have developed their interpersonal skills and are able to assist others without dominating the situation. The Digikidz were constantly challenged and asked to step out of their comfort zone, with support from me, so they expect this now and are very keen to learn. But the biggest benefit for me is that I didn't quite appreciate the huge power of effective peer support. I have always used buddies to support others within my class and done peer assessment using success criteria. But this was generally reciprocal where one child would support their friend and then they would swap. Because the Digikidz job is to work with their peer to support them in their achievement of the success criteria for the entire lesson the focused talk about achieving the Learning Intention is unbelievable. The children constantly refer back to the WILF and the Digikid keeps asking their peer to extend their work throughout. This resulted in hugely more detailed and higher quality work than the children who were working alone even although those children were on-task, motivated and following the WILF too. The idea that two heads are better than one really applies here. I could worry that the Digikid is missing out on something by doing this role but they are gaining so many other skills by being a responsible citizen and helping someone. I am interested in exploring peer support further in the classroom perhaps by allocating more time to the process so that it can be a higher quality experience. I did ask a few parents whether they were concerned about their child going out of the classroom for upskilling or to work in other rooms to support others but everyone I spoke to was very positive about the experience and had seen marked changes in their child.
The sharing session was very enjoyable for me and next time I organise something like that I would let the rest of the school know so the other teachers can have a chance to come and see what the Digikidz have been learning too. I overlooked the fact that they might be interested and only invited my team, Associate Principal and Principal. Belinda told me she would have liked to be invited as well to celebrate the childrens' success. I will definately have to keep that in mind for the future and not assume people are too busy or that they wouldn't be interested! Let's face it, it's always nice to be invited to a party isn't it?
Here are some photos and comments from the session (images and audio by the Digikidz):
On a final note I was just visiting the At the Teacher's Desk blog and found a great post about a collaborative project between an NZ and a US school where the American children watched a video of two experts in the NZ school using the rakau sticks. Here is the link. The children then practised and made their own video in response. The idea of children as experts with children learning from one another is so amazing. What a wonderful way to learn!