Definition of Transformational use of Technology: A transformational level of student engagement means that students are using technology in a way that transforms the learning process for the student and requires higher-order thinking. (Source)
Definition of Transitional use of Technology: A transitional level of student engagement with technology means that students are performing a traditional task, but using technology to complete the task. (Source)
That got me thinking. What could I have my students do with the technology that would be more transformational? I could have them create digital posters on Glogster complete with videos, photos, examples, and definitions. The higher-order thinking could come in as they are creating the videos, photos, and examples. Or, maybe I could have them create a Tagxedo word cloud with 20-30 pronouns (here's a list of 74) and 10-20 words that aren't pronouns, post it in a blog entry, and have other students comment on which 10 words they didn't think weren't pronouns (as a challenge some could name their parts of speech). Students would need to use the higher-order thinking skill of classifying. One final activity I could have my students do is have them rank order the eight parts of speech from most important to least important, complete with an explanation of why they chose that order. This uses the skills of determining importance and comparing and contrasting.
All of those activities sound like things I want to be doing in my class. But all of those things require my students to have a basic understanding of each of the parts of speech in order to be successful. My students don't have that yet. YET was the key word. I purposely (although subconsciously) chose a "transitional use of technology" activity because I felt that my students needed some basics before they were ready to do something more transformational! So maybe transitional uses of technology have a real purpose in learning! Maybe not all activities need to be transformational! Huh.
I've been thinking that I needed to avoid transitional activities. But what I think I've discovered is that I have a slightly different plan of attack these days than I used to.
(1) First, I need to assess my students to see what they know about a subject.
(2) If they know very little, I need to build background knowledge through the most effective means possible (which sometimes means using transitional lessons).
(3) If they know a lot at the beginning (or as soon as they know a lot), I need to provide opportunities to utilize 21st Century skills and higher-order thinking skills as they complete transformational activities (technology-related or not).
So now I understand why I had my kiddos silently plugging away at some fairly tedious grammar games online. It was to build their background knowledge to a high enough level that we could do some fun activities like the ones I brainstormed above! Hopefully, we can get done learning about the eight parts of speech soon enough to actually have time to do some fun things with them! Of course, that is the task of the 21st Century educator. Making time to do the activities that really matter. We'll get there soon enough. :)
My links to the parts of speech games & activities are on this page: http://psolarz.weebly.com/grammar.html
A new part of speech is being added twice per week until we have done them all. Feel free to use them if your students need to learn the basics! If you choose to try out any of the transformational activities with them, let me know how they went. Or if you have any other cool grammar ideas, please let me know - I'd love to try them out!!!
Here's an Answer Key for the image above: