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.
|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.