Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Week in Tech Integration - Spring Break

It  is Spring Break in our school district so no visiting classrooms for me. Instead I’m preparing presentations and researching.

I read this article and thought it would be a thought provoker for teachers coming back to school. It is long and a bit rough at first, I think the author missed the opportunity to truly define why we need good teachers in the digital age, but with some help perhaps we can get there.

The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher — The Atlantic (My annotated version https://diigo.com/07gohq)

I’ll start with the end, “There is a profound difference between a local expert teacher using the Internet and all its resources to supplement and improve his or her lessons, and a teacher facilitating the educational plans of massive organizations.”

Often tech companies and privateers try to hype the cost savings, which is code for getting rid of expensive teachers. What they fail to realize is it has been possible to record the best teachers and deliver the recording to students for well over 50 years. It has also been possible to have students take quizzes and tests on that material. I myself took a telecourse for credit at community college way back in 1986. The newness isn’t the delivery of content or grading of tests, it’s the ability of teacher to be there with the content.

[Teachers are] “shifting from content expert to curriculum facilitator”, but not really. Yes we can bring content in from the best, most interesting teachers, but that doesn’t mean we sit back and manage behavior in the classroom. The best classroom teacher can now switch from the time consuming task of delivering content or grading tests, to working with small groups or individuals. Helping students make sense of the content.

“Teachers like me are uploading onto the web tens of thousands of lesson plans and videos that are then being consolidated and curated by various organizations” This is a good thing. The more we share our lessons, the less for profit companies can charge fees for decent lesson plans. Skip Teachers Pay Teachers and go to a union shop like http://www.sharemylesson.com/teaching-resources/

Next the author shares some great examples of how edtech companies are taking the labor out of preparing for teaching. It is almost like the traditional teaching job is being split into two or even four jobs, curriculum/subject matter expert and presentation/facilitator. As long as we don’t try to change the job of teacher into reader of scripts or security guard who forces students to sit still and be quiet during the canned lesson it is alright.

    Listen Current, a website that curates the best of public radio, including current events, and offers the three- to five-minute clips alongside a full set of lesson plans and worksheets.

    I found Edmodo. … I signed up just to see what it was all about. Within five minutes, I found a great lesson…

    Activate Instruction is already creating a free and open online tool that is "similar to Wikipedia" and will "help put resources and curriculum in one place that any teacher can use."

    "I don’t ever write my own lesson plans anymore.” ... the materials are usually inexpensive or free; are extremely well made; and often include worksheets, videos, assessments, and links to other resources. Time and money savers. I don’t have to write the lessons and I don’t have to let a textbook dictate my lessons. I can even get rid of textbooks if I find enough lessons with resources.

His conclusion, that I shared earlier, mirrors mine.

There is a profound difference between a local expert teacher using the Internet and all its resources to supplement and improve his or her lessons, and a teacher facilitating the educational plans of massive organizations.

Bonus - tech tools for use in the classroom

  1.     Google Forms
  2.     Socrative
  3.     Plickers
  4.     Twitter
  5.     Geddit
  6.     PollEverywhere
  7.     ExitTicket
  8.     VoiceThread
  9.     lino
  10.     Padlet

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