Thursday, May 3, 2012

Smartpen and Conflict Resolution

More often than not, students come in from recess having experienced some type of conflict. As a primary division teacher I am constantly reviewing the "Tools for Life" strategies (talk it out, walk away, compromise, apologize, share/take turns, ask for help, ignore) that were introduced to my students at the beginning of the school year.

Just the other day, two of my students came in from recess upset. These two particular students have experienced conflict between each other a lot this year. They are both nice children, their personalities just don't seem to jive. They are learning to deal with this phenomenon, no different than the rest of us! I won't go into detail about the talks we have and the reconciliation that occurs, but I will tell you what I did that was different than all the other times I have dealt with these two particular students.

Having spent some time facilitating their discussion, I asked them to tell each other to agree to trying to do one or two things to help the other out. The next morning, I brought the students back together and I told them that we were going to use the smart pen to record (audio and written) their agreement so that they could revisit/review what they are trying to do to be respectful to the other.

To my surprise, the students were quite clear about what they had agreed to do. Moreover, they started telling me some of the "Tools for Life" they could use to avoid turning a small disagreement/issue into a big one. Here is the text/audio of our what took place (the text you want start about half way down - "Conflict with Students" - click on those words and the audio/text will begin there):
brought to you by Livescribe

Both students have taken the opportunity to review our talk by using the smartpen and dot paper to review what we talked about. I want to add that they have done this on their own time (e.g snack time, preparing for recess). Individually, they have approached me to do this and they told me that they wanted to hear themselves again. I asked them what hearing themselves does for them and they responded by saying that they like to hear the conversation because it reminds them of what they need to work on.

I think it's awesome that the smartpen can offer my students assistance around conflict resolution. I am open and excited about the possibilities this 'tool' can bring my students to engage them and spark them to reflect on their words and actions.

I would love your feedback about this blog post. Please feel free to comment!


  1. What an awesome application of the pen. You're teaching the students to bring together their social/emotional learning, their technology skills and language/communicaton skills. We spend so much time with our students talking about making connections to their own lives from their learning and about opportunities to apply their acquired knowledge and skills in real life. This does it with one sweep of the brush (or the pen so to sepak) Great work! MG

    1. I really want to make sure that I am using the technology to benefit their learning. Having said that, I am trying to connect the technology to what I have been teaching them all year in order for them to 1) apply what they have learned and 2) feel more at ease with the tech integration. Thanks for your comments MG!

  2. Rolland, what a powerful synthesis of teaching conflict resolution skills and gospel values and leveraging educational technology.

    My only recommendation is that you always emphasize with students that digital technology (e.g. recording your students' voices) is a very good and ethical use of technology (e.g. they can always revisit their wonderful spoken pledge to get along) rather than the Smart pen serving as a 'stick' to keep them in line.

    Great cutting-edge stuff!

    1. Thanks for your recommendation Mike! I appreciate your perspective and will work to be more aware of always emphasizing that the use of digital technology is a very good/ethical use of tech. Please do continue to visit the site - I look forward to your responses.