Friday, June 14, 2013

What it Means to be a Teacher...Point Form

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Tom March's online article "The 10 Stages of Working the Web for Education" challenges teachers to consider how to use technology, particularly the Internet, to not only acquire new information and skills, but to "transform" that knowledge and to "construct new meaning" while fostering a learner centred environment in our classrooms. Below are my thoughts, in point form, on what I think it means to be a teacher given my own experiences on using technology in the classroom. Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, and I hope it is not exhausting to read:

  • Stop always giving students the answers and encourage them to discover them for themselves
  • When they ask how to spell something, instruct them to consider using spell check or inserting how they think the word should be spelt in something called "Google"
  • Continually remind them that when they are connected to the Internet a lot of information is at their fingertips
  • But also challenge students to question Internet sources and consider from what point of view was something written, recorded, published, etc.
  • Provide opportunities for students to use technology where they become the "constructors" of media and not the "consumers"
  • Instead of multiple choice and short answer, consider an assessment activity where they can collaborate and create, rather than regurgitate 
  • Continually remind them that in the world of social media they are the product
  • Yet also offer them opportunities to see the real power behind social media (beyond updating your status on a minute to minute basis)
  • Debate with them what kind of digital footprint they want to leave on the Internet
  • Admit you are not an expert on many things, but together we can find people who are
  • Always remember that a quiet orderly classroom does not necessarily reflect good teaching, just excellent classroom management with few headaches
  • Distinguish carefully between when students are genuinely challenging you or others on issues versus just being disrespectful
  • Help them to distinguish it too
  • Consider digital literacy as important as traditional literacy skills and numeracy
  • Smartphones and other digital devices have as much (or probably much more) potential to be engaging as they do distracting
  • Talk about a book, an object with real pages, and share with them how nice it feels and how good a new one smells...point out that the words can be useful as well 
  • Introduce sustained silent reading now and then and ask them to share what they read
  • Enjoy the quiet time, because it seldom lasts long
  • Sometimes learning for the sake of learning can be cool, no seriously...
  • Model what it means to be a life-long learner 
  • Questions and issues that have no clear right or wrong answers will create more debate, frustration and interest
  • Discuss copy and paste versus copy and plagiarize 
  • Every now and then take technology outdoors with video cameras, digital cameras and digital recorders
  • Time to recharge is as important as time to engage
  • Have them do projects or assignments that involve little to no typical modern day technology
  • Consider how they can use the learning space and time to make connections to issues and problems in their own school and community
  • Ask them to consider this too
  • Then do something about it
  • Look impressed when they actually use their digital tablet or pad to download a Shakespearean play
  • Remember that just because you gave them instructions does not mean they plan on reading them
  • Continually ask them to read instructions and confer with their partner or other group members when possible before they ask you how to do something
  • Even when you trial an application before classroom use, at least one student will find an obstacle or issue you missed
  • Most times there is a student who knows as much if not more about the technology you are using, or will just have this great innate ability. Take advantage of that
  • Sometimes a student needs to work alone and sometimes they need to work with others...allowing them the moments to express and reflect on what is best for them is good for everyone
  • Reflect on what did not work that day and change it, but also celebrate what did work
  • Celebrate their achievements as much as possible and give them credit when they genuinely tried their best
  • Always remember that real learning can be messy (and noisy), but also very rewarding

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