Blog Archive

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Are you letting the tools drive the lesson?

When working with teachers I'm often asked about tools and rubrics and how do you incorporate the tool, does the tool get in the way of the learning, is the content better because of the tool? My answer to these questions is the tool doesn't drive the instruction so the grade/rubric should reflect that.

When a teacher looks at my students work and tells me the writing and content isn't any good and uses that as justification for NOT using technology, I quiver. Not because the students did a bad job, but because I didn't teach it well enough. I didn't model and explicitly teach the goal I had set. This shouldn't be a surprise, but the tools don't drive my lesson plan the standards, benchmarks, and needs of the individual students drive my planning.

I have said to my peers before, think of a laptop as another tool for learning in the is no different than the pencil, the ruler, or the whiteboard. It is a tool to enhance our teaching and student's learning experience.

But what about productivity and we ever have enough time as teachers? Well, I believe that technology should allow us to work more productively and in the long run it does indeed save time. Like everything that we want to do to improve our classroom we have to understand that there's a learning curve for us, but that's the fun part IMO. Learning is Messy, but it's rewarding.

This is a digital generation that is in our schools right now and if we want to continue to adapt, differentiate, and challenge all the learners in our classroom, it would only make sense to use their medium as a authentic gauge of their knowledge. I have been using wikis for two years in my class and I can tell you that the "newness" doesn't wear off, in fact there's a connectedness beyond the classroom that enables applied learning to take place at every corner. The discussions that take place about the books they are reading is great.

Once again, it's important to remember that a wiki is not the assignment. I'm not grading whether or not they can edit a page and add content, I'm grading them on their writing and grammar, their depth of knowledge about the books and their use of context clues, identification of figurative language, use of vocabulary across the curriculum, ability to plan, draft and revise, keep perspective in their writing, stay on topic, etc. Everything I do in my classroom is aligned with CAP, State and National Standards, technology doesn't change this, it only enhances it and allows for the interaction and digitalness they crave. I hope that it's the same for you.

Great article here from T.H.E. Journal titled "Teachers Lead Adoption of Web 2.0, but Perceptions Stifle Social Networking"
It reinforces my belief that if we're passionate about the use and availability of social networking, web based tools, and student created content going "live" then we need to do more modeling, sharing, collaborating and embracing ourselves.
Here's a quote pulled form the article "As for the future of Web 2.0 tools in schools, the researchers reported that teacher-generated online content will be the 'the next area of growth in the use of Web 2.0 technologies.' Almost half of districts have plans for adopting or promoting the creation and sharing of this content through Web 2.0 tools."
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