Really? It’s My Job To Teach Technology?

Really? It’s My Job To Teach Technology?

Andrew Vicars, one of our COETAIL participants, wrote a blog post that I was going to leave a comment on but then it got to a point where it needed its own blog post as it’s a conversation that continues to be talked about. It’s a conversation with many different points of view and so I thought I would add mine to the mix. You’ll want to read Andrew’s blog post first to get the context of what he’s talking about, but I’m going to answer the questions he’s asking around technology integration here. 1. Wouldn’t it be great if every student had a computer skills class so that teachers could be provided with a list of skills and software that the students are all able to use. But for this to work students would all have to take this class at the start of the year. How long would this class have to run for?   Would students remember what they learnt six months later when they are asked to apply it? And this is exaclty why technology as a class does not work. We can not teach everything “just in time” so we end up teaching everything “just in case” and then we teach kids things they might never use or teach them things that they won’t use until the end of the year. In the end, teaching skills out of context doesn’t work. 2. Individual classroom teachers should integrate technology skills and software competence into their units. Does this extra teaching come at the expense of content? Is this a reasonable expectation for teachers.  Should a social studies teacher be able to teach technology skills? Yes to all of the above. First off, I like that Andrew calls technology a skill as that is a mindset that needs to change. Most teachers don’t see teaching technology as a skill but rather a “program”. If we view technology as a skill, then we can look at the skill students are learning through the use of technology. Let’s take a look at Blooom’s Taxonomy of Higher Order Thinking Skills. I have created this image and flipped the usual triangle because what we really want is students to spend more time in the Create area than the Remember area. Actually Create should be the foundation for learning not Remember….Remember should come last in that “Oh do you remember when...

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Personalizing Education in a Standards-Based System

My thoughts after reading Seth Godin’s post Back to (the wrong) school and Douglas Rushkoff post Are Jobs Obsolete? The other day I was looking at a curriculum map similar to this one:                   As I was looking over it I started shaking my head and wondering how do we personalize education in a standardized system? When every student has to learn the concepts covered in a specific unit by a specific time whether or not the students are done learning, have mastered the skills and concepts or are ready to move on. When curriculum maps and content standards drive classroom instruction how do we personalize the educational experience for our students? How do we allow them to follow their passion, to wonder, to follow paths of interest? I’ve talked before on this blog about my struggle with standards, about confining both teachers and students to what they can learn to one or two well written sentences of a bullet point.  Does it really matter that every child learns the same thing or at the same time? Or is it more important that they just become a learner? Learning how to learn, unlearn, and relearn and having the skills and the passion to make it happen. What if it was just a school’s mission and vision, or in my school’s case, our Definition of Learning that drove learning in our schools. What if at the end of every year kids had to show this: We value meaningful learning where students construct enduring understanding by developing and applying knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Increased understanding is evidenced by students who: Explain its relevance Describe how it connects to or conflicts with prior learning Communicate it effectively to others Generalize and apply it effectively to new situations Reflect critically on their own and other’s learning Ask questions to extend learning Create meaningful solutions   Do we care what class it happens in? Do we really care about the content? Or can we stand in awe of the great work our kids can produce when we make it personal and allow their passion to show through....

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Standards and Benchmarks are Crap

  You know when you’ve been thinking something for awhile but it’s not very popular so you never say anything…..and then there’s a conversation that gets you going and before you know it…things just come out? OK….so maybe this doesn’t happen to you…but it does to me….often actually. Think before I speak is something I obviously need to work on. Today while kicking off another CoETaIL Cohort here at the #ETC11 conference this came rolling out of my mouth…and of course was tweeted right away. what are the essentials of learning? @jutecht might have said something like “standards and benchmarks are crap!” too funny! #etc11less than a minute ago via TweetDeckGrant Franke grantfranke “standards & benchmarks are 20th century crap!” quote from @jutecht #etc11 #coetailless than a minute ago via TweetDeckEvan Graff edtgraff Yes….I’ve been thinking this for awhile. I’ve been having an issue with standards and benchmarks (S&B) for years. Specifically how they apply to technology in schools. Read here, here and here. School has changed, we used to learn “just in case” now we need to be teaching “just in time”. (OK…schools haven’t changed but they should) The way schools are applying S&Bs is frustrating me…especially in the American system where we’re getting to the point in many schools where everyone is on the same page at the same time learning the same standard. Forget if kids actually master the concept because we need to move on to the next standard. S&Bs are 20th century thinking that we’re still trying to apply to a 21st Century world. A world were essential habits and attitudes of learning are what we need to be focused on. Where meta-congnitive skills and the ability to think about our own thinking will serve our students better than learning their times tables (I have access to 4 calculators within hands reach as I type). So the conversation then is what is learning about? And as the tweet above states: What are the essentials of learning? My current school I think is on the right track. What I would love to do is throw out all the S&Bs and tie everything we teach to our definition of learning. Your school has defined what learning is right? Here’s ISB’s Definition of Learning: Learning is the primary focus of our school and we recognize learning as a life-long adventure. We value meaningful learning where students construct...

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I'm struggling with Tech Standards again….

If technology is a tool…and we all agree it’s a tool right? Then why the heck do we need standards for it? What are we trying to prove? If you have a technology class..then yes there should be skills (a.k.a. standards) you are trying to teach students. But…if it’s just a tool in the classroom that we’re using to produce and create information do we need to assess the tool, or the content we’re creating? I spent one hour with these four girls showing them how a wiki works. That’s it, it was a tool…it could have been a hammer, a pencil, or any tool…but it just so happened that this tool is called a wiki and it takes a computer to access it. http://ibhumanbiochem.wikispaces.com/ What is it about this site that is exciting? Is it the technology or the content they produced? I’m struggling here. If it’s embedded into the classroom…like it is in this classroom. We should not need to assess it. We should get excited over the content, grade the content based on content standards and appreciate that we have tools today that allow us to express our learning, and allow students to share their content with a global audience. [tags]standards[/tags] Technorati Tags: standards, wikispaces, project,...

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