Students Reflect on Being edWeb Presenters
When we “flip” the learning, and have students present to educators in our edWebinars, it’s a great example of how much we can learn from our students. In a recent edWebinar, Turn Struggling Readers Into Leaders Using Assistive Technology, Gavin and Marley, two middle school students, along with dyslexia specialist Dana Blackaby, presented on their use of assistive technology that helps struggling readers. We wanted to know how they felt about playing the role of teacher to a crowd of over 800 attendees.
Fifth-grader Gavin and fourth-grader Marley, students at The Nora Dunn Academy, said they enjoyed the experience, knowing it would help teachers and students alike. Both are struggling readers who use audiobooks, text-to-speech readers, and other tools to access their grade-level curriculum. But Gavin felt it was different giving the presentation to adults rather than students. Marley clarified that it’s harder to explain the assistive learning tools to adults because they aren’t as familiar with these supports. “Kids understand the tools are going to be helpful to them,” she said, “but teachers don’t always see it from the kids’ perspective.”
Marley and Gavin both agreed that doing the edWebinar, where they couldn’t see their audience, made them less nervous than being in front of in-person attendees. Though she doesn’t have stage fright, Marley admits that “it’s a little uncomfortable” when she feels like everyone is watching her. Gavin pointed out that doing the presentation online also meant that more people could attend.
The two had prepared for the edWebinar by rehearsing with Dana ahead of time and discussing bullet points of concepts they wanted to get across. “We’ve done this a lot at different schools,” Gavin told us. “During summer, too.” They have presented at schools from elementary up through the high school level. Their biggest live audience was to district administrators, which Dana said was tough because of having their pictures taken throughout their talk.
The dyslexia specialist states that presenting the assistive learning edWebinar was a valuable experience for Marley and Gavin. She’s seen their self-confidence grow through these events because they know they have something unique to offer to teachers as well as students. Marley and Gavin agreed, as they learned that not everyone who needs these support tools knows how to get them—or that such tools even exist. Gavin: “If you know about these things you should share it!” And Marley has this advice for potential student speakers: “Don’t be afraid, and just say what you need to say!”
Dana sums it up beautifully. “Marley and Gavin hold the keys to unlocking their own learning, and they share their assistive technology treasures boldly so that others can experience the same freedom,” she says. “They are risk-taking leaders who aren’t afraid of using technology tools to enhance their learning, and they readily share their experiences with others.”
Many thanks to Learning Ally for presenting this wonderful edWebinar, Turn Struggling Readers Into Leaders Using Assistive Technology, and for giving Marley and Gavin the opportunity to share their learning with the edWeb community.