Friday, April 16, 2010

Techno Classroom Dance Moves

A teacher needs the right moves to transform the awkward processes and daily steps in the classroom into graceful poetry.

These are my Techno Dance Moves for the first year:

1. Discover what technology resources are available at the site and what technology goals and standards the administration has set in place.

2. Asses the students current capabilities and skill level relating to technology, background experience (scholastic and recreation) and home access to various devices and services.

3. Arrange for reasonable student access to necessary technological devices and services inside the classroom, at the school site, and at home. Communicate with parents the intent, importance, goals, projects, questions, concerns, and any other topics that need to be addressed so as to allow students to have off site access to the devices and services needed to advance there education.

4. Plan and implement technology based learning activities that parallel state subject standards on a frequent and regular basis.

5. Plan and implement technology based projects that engage and develop the students higher cognitive skills, connect classroom instruction to a real world context, and allow for the creation of original products.

6. Create a method and system for sharing and displaying student work and progress, instructional outlines and goals as well as a system of communication with students, parents and family members, faculty and administration by way of technology.

Crystal Ball

Technology is extremely important to the education of today's students. One company that makes this their mission is One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). This group gives self contained, rugged and connected laptops to some of the poorest children in the world, hoping to create educational opportunities never before provided. If knowledge is power, than think of how powerful a tool is that has access to endless information. Now put this tool in the hands of a poor, first world child who is taught how to use this tool. With this one powerful combination the possibilities are endless.

In ten years, the children who were given this opportunity will probably be instrumental in the progression of their hometowns and countries. These children could be the hope for ending poverty and other problems effecting those areas. A person who grows up in these sad circumstances and has a modern education is far more likely to solve the area's problems than some outsider on a charity mission. These children may have the opportunity to spread firsthand accounts of this struggle to the world and ways of combating it.

Often we teach our children in the same ways we were taught. If the resources are available, in ten years this act of giving poor children a laptop could be self proliferating. The parents who grew up with this opportunity would probably try to provide the same or better opportunities for their children. This cycle of education could be the solution to many of the world's current problems. Education so often seems to be the key to solving problems, OLPC may very well have set in motion the very thing these countries need to succeed. I hope that other organizations take a hint from OLPC and create more programs that spread technology and expand education to anyone and everyone on the planet. These organizations would be helping the world while creating the possibility of life long customers. It would be a win win situation.

You Tube as Homework

Individual opinions and views differ greatly on using technology in the classroom. The bottom line should be if it is an effective learning tool, use it.

In one of my classes, a recent homework assignment was to watch a You Tube video and use a graphic organizer consisting of images, relating to the video, to take notes. As a student this was a welcomed change from writing papers and piecing together presentations. The graphic organizer helped structure the main points of the video and focus my attention on the key topics my teacher wanted me to learn.

Using this type of assignment has many benefits and some shortcomings. I would love to use this type of homework with my students for everything. It is an effective teaching/learning method and applicable in a variety of subjects. Students would be more willing to watch a video and take notes rather than do a worksheet or read a chapter out of their textbook. This type of exercise also utilizes many aspects of language and learning styles. The student sees and hears the video simultaneously, the video probably has more effective imagery than most textbooks, the student writes what they hear, and sees a single image for each main point, a powerful memory enhancer.

The shortcomings of this type of homework are the same as any that ask students to use the internet. What if the student does not have a computer at home? What if the student does not have internet at home? What if the student stumbles upon unsuitable material while online? These "what ifs" seem to dominate the rational for teachers not to even try to use a variety of technology in their teaching. My concern would not fall under the "what ifs" for the younger students. My thinking goes to communicating this type of assignment to the parents, since they would have to supervise the elementary students while on the computer. The younger students would love to do this type of homework but parents or care givers maybe reluctant. If the teacher is lucky, clear, has effectively taught students how to complete this type of assignment independently and effectively communicated with parents, You Tube could be a regular and effective teaching strategy. Who would have guessed it, not me!