Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Technology Is Teaching Me to Be a Better Teacher

While reading David Title's blog Gravity and Levity I came to a startling revelation. I realized that what I am learning from teaching tech use in my classroom is bleeding over into my non-tech teaching.

Students come to me with many schooly skills. They can find answers and fill in the blanks on worksheets. They can (usually) answer questions using key words from those questions. They can copy notes off the board. These are lessons students learn early in schools.

Each year I have new students that need to learn how to post blog posts, create Power Points, and similar things using computers. I have begun to realize that these skills actually don't need to be taught, they can be learned by allowing the students time to explore and create. Instead of focusing on teaching them how to use the tools, I am teaching them when and how it is appropriate to use the tools. Then I ask them to reflect on their learning. I have come to realize I should be doing this all the time.

For years I have taught students to take notes by copying them off the board. Actually, I wasn't teaching them to do anything except how to copy words. This year I focused on teaching how to take notes. I am evaluating their note-taking skills when I observe what type of notes they are taking and if the notes are helping the students learn the material. After testing I ask the students about their note-taking and if their assessment scores were improved by the notes. I want them to learn the skill that allows them to be successful regardless of the content.

To sum up, students need little help to learn the tools, but they need our guidance and practice to use them in a way beneficial to their learning. Technology taught me this.


Ali Colbeck said...

Can I agree any more loudly! I saw a while ago that I don't actually need to directly 'teach' technology, but instead to 'introduce' an idea and let them run from there. The high engagement of the kids means that they will interact with technology to reach their desired aim. I also began to see how much we do in class that isn't actually achieving the desired outcome (as in your example about whiteboard copying). I guess the challenge for me has become then to find as many ways to use technology not as a means to an end and in isolation, but as a tool that facilitates process. A way of gaining knowledge and a tool that provides equity for my students.

Lauren Roberts' EDM310 Blog said...

It is so nice to hear that teachers all over the country are converting to a more project-based, critical thinking style of teaching and slowly moving away from what my EDM310 professor calls, "burp-back" education. I found the link to this blog post on twitter and it interested me because the title of your post is basically the theme of the class. We are supposed to be teaching ourselves how twitter can be used for education... what have you found to be useful about twitter in particular? I am having trouble navigating it and getting responses from others.

John Strange said...

Right on!

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Lauren that sounds like a good thing for me to post on the blog. Short version is twitter allows me to communicate with people like me. They have the same desire to become better teachers regardless of the content they teach. For navigation I thing you should try Tweetdeck. It makes twitter usable. Finally, it takes time to develop relationships, even on line. Some good tips for you to get more followers are to add some good information in your biography. Make sure you put you are a pre-service teacher looking to make connections. Link your twitter page to one of your blogs. People need to know you are really the person you say you are. Also, it is okay to lurk in twitter. You won't always have something to add.

Wm Chamberlain
aka Mr. C

Jarrod Lamshed said...

@ Lauren

I guess twitter is really how this blog has come about. I would probably not have taken this on alone (I don't have that much to say!). Twitter is where I have formed relationships with the other contributors to this blog. Twitter is where we plan a lot of classroom collaborations and it's where I go if I'm stuck for ideas or technical issues.

NZWaikato said...

One of the reasons that I have always been so impressed by your online work is your ability to use it as such a positive force in the classroom. I also get the impression from you that your malleable... in a positive way. I think its a vital trait for any classroom teacher and more so an ICT person, which is why I think you've so much to offer on a class wide basis. I look forward to seeing how your new educational role affects your view from the chalkboard.