Student-Teacher Communication Enabled by Technology

Yesterday, I was privileged to be part of a very sweet exchange, via the “chat” window in Showbie,  with one of my Grade 4 students.  This wasn’t a ground-breaking conversation, no breakthroughs or major discoveries were made… it was just, as the speech bubbles on our respective screens suggested, a “chat” – but it brought home to me how technology facilitates student-teacher communication, and helps us build relationships with the kids in our classrooms.

Allow me to  set the stage for the conversation shared in the screenshot below:  As we prepare to dig deeper into problems that require multiplication and division of whole numbers, my Grade 4’s have been working on mastering times-table facts.  Many of them have met the challenge head on, drilling their multiplication tables whenever they have a spare moment,  playing card games that require them to master the facts, and they are enjoying seeing their efforts result in increased speed and accuracy.

On Tuesday evening, knowing I was going to be away at a meeting on Wednesday morning, I sent each student a brief note in his/her Showbie account, commenting on their progress and making some suggestions for next steps.   There’s a strong element of “cheerleading”  in my message – which is intentional – multiplication facts are not, by their nature, very exciting…. I’m doing my best to pump them up 🙂

The child whose “voice” is featured in the screenshot below started texting me, via her Showbie account, about the work she was doing at school, while she was in class in Stratford Wednesday morning, and I was in a meeting room at the Education Centre.

This is a conversation that likely would not have occurred face-to-face at school – the classroom is too busy, the day too full of activity, sometimes, to allow for exchanges like this one.  Also, this child would not likely  have said to me, in person, the things she said in the text messages.  In the past when I’ve commented positively on something she’s achieved, or praised her efforts, she shyly ducks her head, gives me a smile, and whispers “Thanks”.  But communicating via text on our iPads gave her a degree of confidence she sometimes lacks in face-to-face conversations – allowing her to say things like “I’m really proud of myself!”

Here’s part of the exchange.  Since Showbie chat windows order themselves from most recent to least recent, I cut & pasted them in the order that I actually received them, so that you could read from top to bottom, instead of bottom to top.IMG_1742

I am really enjoying the many ways in which technology allows me to communicate with my students, and finding it helps build relationships,  especially with the somewhat quieter, more reserved kids who are less likely to work to get my attention at school.  No matter how important I understand it to be, and how much I try to spend time with everyone, I know that I don’t converse with every child as much as I should… technology doesn’t replace face-to-face conversation, but it helps fill a gap.