As I went to be after class last night, I couldn’t help but wonder why a lot of teachers do not use the technology that is available to them. The opportunities are fantastic and will definitely increase learning in the classroom. All of a sudden ‘find North America’ on a world map becomes a lot more fun because you are using Google Maps and are finding it with the click of a mouse. I would love to see a lot more teachers be open minded about technology and bring their school into the 21st Century. Be open minded, be creative, be teachable! Learn, learn, and learn some more. Learning should never stop.
When using technology, educators have to realize that it takes more than just one attempt to learn how to use whatever resource you are using, such as Google Apps, iMovie, wikispaces, and blogs. It is a new language and culture that you have to learn; you can’t just read the manual and understand.
I was blog surfing this morning and came across some interesting points. One point was made in a post by Lisa Thumann about a middle school language arts teacher who was really questioning how using technology would benefit her students. This teacher was against using technology to assist her students in finding their voice and becoming better writers because “when she was a student, she learned to write just fine without a computer.”
Yes this may be true, but not all students learn the same as they did 10, 20, or 30 years ago. In fact, not all students learn the same way as they learned yesterday. It is a new world out there and teachers need to recognize that students are not the same as they used to be. They are unique individuals born in a completely different generation than they were. They learn by multimedia, visuals, experiential learning, by sharing their ideas with the world by posting on a classroom blog. And students don’t have to just share their ideas by writing essays or descriptive paragraphs either. They can use voice thread projects, podcasts, or recorded videos of themselves sharing their thoughts. The Lipsky team does a nice job of this on their class blog. Not only will these students feel that their response is valued, but will feel excited because their friends made through the collaboration of their teachers, who live across the world will be able to listen. Mom and dad can listen at home too and be proud of their child’s work.
Students can really find their voice when using a classroom blog to express their thoughts. Teachers can post creative writing suggestions or questions for their students to answer too. I would have loved this when I was a student. Not only would I get to use the computer, but I would be more willing to share my thoughts since I knew that people would be reading it. One teacher posted the question “What do teachers need to know?” for her students to respond back with some advice for teachers about what would help them learn. Students post their thoughts, teacher reads and is able to her what her student’s like and what they don’t like and is able to take those thoughts into consideration and make adaptations in his/her lessons. This way, the teacher is meeting the needs of his/her learners and the students are feeling respected and are given the opportunity to enhance their learning.
I found some of the responses to that post made by the students very interesting. It was repeatedly said that school needed to be more ‘fun’ to help them learn. And it was also said that they wanted less homework. So learning needs to be more fun and there needs to be less homework (hmm sounds like the same thoughts I have about many of my university classes hehe). So lets use technology to spruce up the lessons; lets research on Google what it was like to live the life of a SK pioneer and record our information in the form of an interview. Then lets record our interviews by using Garage Band and turn it into a pod cast and post it on our class blog. Then for homework, we are to listen to some of our peer’s interviews and comment about their final product (peer assessment?). But this homework doesn’t really feel like homework because it is kind of like watching our friend’s videos or looking at their pictures on Facebook and that is pretty cool . How much more fun could a research project be?
So lets allow students to have the opportunity to break down the walls that are holding them back from learning in the new ways that the 21st Century is bringing. Let us teachers hop on board and begin the journey with our students so that everyone can learn in a way that is best suited for them. Be open minded, be creative, be teachable.