11 Feb 2013

Music to My Ears

I had the pleasure of listening to Clarence Fisher, via Skype, this past
week. He shared a number of powerful ideas with us, but there were two I found especially thought-provoking. The first idea, which was music to my ears, is that teachers need to know why they are using technology in the classroom. Yes, we are required to incorporate ICT into our teaching practices, but we must consider the following questions when using technology: Why are we doing this? Why are we using this particular device/program/website? What is the purpose of "this" technology? and What do my students need to know about technology? Clarence suggested that too many teachers do not consider the deeper reasons they are using technology, nor do they truly consider what purpose technology serves in their students' learning. I was so glad when he brought this up because I have grappled with these questions myself since my last student teaching practicum. Each of the students in my classroom had access to an iPad on a daily basis. They were free to "use" them whenever they wanted, but there didn't seem to be any real purpose or deeper reason underpinning their use. Until I took over the class, that is. I do not mean this as a criticism of the teacher, because I truly believe this teacher's intentions were, and are, good. I just think it was a difference in our teaching philosophies. He tended to allow the students to freely use their iPads in whatever way they wanted. I, however, wanted the students to use them more purposefully. I tried to create lesson plans that would permit ample, but purposeful, use of the iPads throughout the day. It was a bit of a learning curve for me as I had very little experience with iPads up until that point.
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Photo taken by Lexie Flickinger

This brings me to the other idea that I found very thought-provoking. He said that iPads are brought into the classroom, but it is not about creating, but consuming the information. I couldn't agree more. That was definitely my experience in my last placement. I wanted students to be creators, not just consumers, but I needed to know how to do that and so I had to learn more about iPad apps and the ways that students can use them to be creators. There are numerous ways that students create things using iPads and other devices, we just need to be proactive in finding out about them.

"Young students can do much more with technology than we can imagine, we just need to give them a chance" ~ Brad Flickinger


It is important to also remember that we need to continue to differentiate instruction and provide different ways for students to show learning. Technology isn't the "be-all and end-all" of modern teaching and learning. Many students still prefer to use a more hands-on approach to instruction and learning. In my last placement there were a number of students who wanted to draw with paper and pencil crayons as opposed to "drawing" with their fingers on the iPad (during free time). During the daily reading period, there were students who chose a hard copy book over the Raz-kids app on their iPads. Students aren't always going to choose technology over more traditional learning tools. Students have different learning strengths and needs, and whatever we do in the classroom, we need to ensure that ALL students' needs and strengths are being addressed.

5 comments:

  1. Hey Lisa, Great reflection! I had the same questions too when it came to the purpose of technology in the classroom. We were fortunate enough to be at the same school during our placements, and I agree that some days it seemed that technology was just being used to fill time in a sense. I also agree with Fishers point that teachers need to look at how they are incorporating technology into their lessons, and make sure that students are creating and not just consuming. I like how you brought up that not every student is choosing technology, you're right Lisa, some kids still prefer to read a hard cover book and draw with markers on paper!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Alaura. Wouldn't be awesome if we ended up in the same school in a few years time? Just imagine the cool things we could do with our new tech knowledge. We would rule that school. lol

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  2. Thank you for your blog post it was very insightful. I also think it is very important that students create and not just consume. I just wonder how can students contribute appropriately to the internet? I am science and math so I could get them to create videos, presentations, blog about their experience. However, I plan to teach in a rural school and sometimes these devices are not available. I would love to work with iPads in the math and science classrooms but if it is not in the school budget how can I make it work?

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    1. You are right Jen, it will probably be more difficult to incorporate some forms of technology into a rural classroom, but as Clarence showed us, it can be done. I definitely see you as the kind of person who will make every effort to have your students using the internet to create.

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  3. I agree that asking the question of "why" we are using technology is so important. Many teachers see technology as something that we will be "forced" to incorporate and for that reason, will not really incoroporate or infuse it at all. If technology is truely infused in the classroom, there will be a purpose and a benefit to the students. I also agree that eductors need to know their students. Not all students will want to use technology all of the time and will find other ways of learning and creating to be more beneficial for them. I know that I need to remember this when planning lessons, not everyone is the same and all students will learn differently. I think that having technology based options is a great way to give studetns choice in how they want to create!

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