One of the most fun and fabulous things I was involved with in 2014 was the creation of a new group of students at my school, the iExplorers. After seeing so much buzz on Twitter and at iPadPalooza last summer, I knew that we needed some student tech leaders on our campus! I wanted to include them in our teacher Tech Tip sessions, and encourage a culture of collaboration and creativity! We have about a 2:1 student to iPad ratio on our campus, and I think we could be doing a lot more creating with them in our classrooms. And so the iExplorers began!
Selecting Student Tech Leaders –
iExplorers are students in grades 2 – 5, with at least 2 students from each grade level. I used a Google Form for teachers to nominate a few students from their grade level, or another. I had explained that I was really looking for respectful, creative students that could become leaders in their class. I really wanted to target a few students that might not have found their niche in academics, but would LOVE this kind of outlet.
The iExplorers now consist of 11 AMAZING students (our school only has about 205 students so I think it’s a pretty good number for now) that inspire me and others in our district. We meet monthly as a group, and they’re invited to our teacher tech tip sessions. These students are so passionate and excited they spend almost every morning before school in my classroom playing, creating and sharing ideas.
Setting Expectations –
When we first met we set a few exceptions for our group …
Each of these students is living up to these expectations and take their iExplorer role so seriously! It’s amazing to watch these students participate in our Tech Tip sessions for teachers. They ask questions I can’t answer, so we search and find together. They suggest uses for apps and projects that are amazing. They inspire me, our staff members, and students!
Collaborating for a Leading Role –
In November we collaborated with Mrs. Jones, from our High School, to teach a group of Freshman english students about app smashing. The iExplorers were excited beyond belief, and immediately started choosing apps and teaming up into small groups. The endeavor ended up a HUGE success, as the iExplorers felt empowered by teaching the older students, and the Freshman were immersed in what my group was sharing. Watching iExplorers share ideas for how the apps they chose could be used together, then having the high schoolers try them on their iPads was incredible! The Freshman used the app smashing ideas to do a project reflecting on a text they had read.
In December, the iExplorers acted as ambassadors for the Hour of Code. We did some exploring together, and what they figured out on Scratch Jr. in less than 30 minutes was incredible. They each went back to their classes and helped their teachers run the Hour of Code. The feedback from teachers was fantastic! They loved that iExplorers were taking leadership roles and suggesting activities.
My heart sings each time one of these students walks through my door to share an idea, or ask a question. I love that their friends want to know how they can be an iExplorer. But most of all I love how these students are inspiring teachers and students around them. I can’t wait to see what’s next for this group!