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Rearrange the ¨Furniture¨ and Discover a New Perspective

Growing up, one of my favorite things to do was to rearrange my bedroom. I loved the opportunity to have my bed facing a new direction, a chance to slide the dresser into a new location and enjoy seeing things from a different perspective. I have always been drawn to home improvement and fixer-up shows that feature the uncanny ability to see something that gives new life to old items. Designers today have an eye for things tossed aside. They have a way of looking at something and seeing it used in a new way.  Sometimes it needs a fresh coat of paint, a different placement in the house, or an opportunity to be given a new purpose.  

When things are rearranged, vantage points change and a new purpose is created. 

Today, I continue to be excited about rearranging furniture, picture frames, and decorations in our house. There are times when the first place I put something is not always the most useful or best location. Or maybe it serves a purpose one way, in one particular location for a period of time, but then can continue to be used in a different area in a new way. 

Sometimes it is not about buying something new, or in the case of education, signing up for an additional site. Benefit is gained from using what you have and finding a way to give it new life.  It is easy to get bogged down by the number of things or options we have, and honestly difficult to remember everything available. What if, rather than trying a new site, we logged into something we already have an account for and looked at using it differently from what we have done in the past?

Each day there is a plethora of new tools available for teachers and students. Educational technology is a growing field. It is fascinating to find new ways of doing things and, it is certainly true that students love uncovering novelty and get excited about the latest methods of doing things.   Sometimes there is an app or a website that makes learning better. However, like buying things for our house; it is changing the way we use something that can provide a significant benefit. If we as educators get creative and excited about the way we are doing something, someone can speak new life into older tools. 

Google Drive is a perfect example of a tech tool that I continually reconfigure how I use each of the Google Apps. When I first became aware of the Google Docs, I thought that I would use it as an option for two or more students to collaborate on a piece of writing. When I heard about Google Slides, I saw it as an updated version of Powerpoint and it would be what my students would use for research projects in computer class. 

I remember attending a conference session about using Google Drawing. Walking into the session I had a literal mindset and assumed we would be learning about using the drawing features. To my surprise, we learned several ways in which learning could be made visual by using photo editing and design tools. My first experiences with Google Forms were centered around sending out exit tickets. I used to think that Google Photos were simply a place to store photographs talking up space on my phone.  Google Maps initially has served a purpose to limit how often I get lost while driving. However, my mind overflows like lava from an erupting volcano as I realize the limitless potential that students have with their fingertips to save different locations and routes.  

Last year I began using a Google Slide a day to post my agenda. I made the permissions view only so that a record of what we did in class could be continuously updated and seen by anyone at any time.  As the fall progressed, and I taught virtually, and in person, this continued to seem like the best way to utilize Google Slides. 

As conditions began to worsen in Michigan, a few weeks ago, we were informed that 100% virtual learning was in our immediate future. I realized that I needed to develop a structure to organize the way I present my lessons.  A colleague of mine told me that she was going to use Google Slides to deliver her lesson each day. The more I thought about it; Google Slides is an easy to navigate, familiar way of presenting information that allows students to have quick access to lessons offered. Rearranging can look like changing the person who uses the program most. Rather than using Google photos to share photos with students, what if they were the ones who created albums to share fictional scrapbooks for novels we are reading? Or, what about students creating google forms or sheets to take charge and organize their learning? 

This week I am challenging myself to look at one website that I have used in the past; and have stopped using over the last few months.  My goal is to log in and look at past projects and work that I have completed.  After observing how I have previously used a website, the focus will shift from what I have always done to brainstorming at least six different ways this site could be used.  Sometimes a site is dated and honestly no longer useful. But sometimes, it needs to be turned upside down, placed in a new corner, given a coat of fresh paint, and within a few minutes, something new is formed. The phrase, “Out with the old, and in with the new”, can be used to describe “A new way of using”.  Many times we find out it is our creativity and knowledge that enhance the things around us.  What we have been looking for is usually right in front of us.  

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