Here is our first web show. Feel free to watch and comment. What did you like, what would you like to see, should Mike drink less coffee and could Garth look any more angry?
Constructivism is an educational theory, usually associated with Jean Piaget, that states humans generate knowledge and meaning from their experiences in a process of accommodation and assimilation (more details). A person who really buys into Constructivism would practice a pedagogy of active or hands on learning. I like to think of myself as a progressive educator who follows these principals. So with that said, I am sitting at a workshop today. A University professor is discussing the “Sounds” of history. In the room are 26-27 teachers from northeast Ohio. We are visiting sites and listening to historical content with discussions about each topic. The discussions are week at best even with some impressive sound clips and historical data. Why?
Well, before I give my perception of why, take a minute to read the following Washington Post article by Laura Mortkowitz entitled, “More colleges, professors shutting down laptops and other digital distractions.” We will come back to this.
Computers engage people. Maybe not the way you always want, but they do engage. People want to “connect”, they want to share, they want to explore. The discussions are week because the people are digging deeper into the sites then the story he is playing and disucssing. They are linking the voices clip to films, website, etc in fact Mike heard the SNCC founders. He went on the web, found a 1996 documentary “Rebels with a Cause” watched it, then went to Facebook and “friended” three of the founding members of SNCC, who were interviewed in the documentary. Needless to say, Mike did not say a great deal in the discussions, but was he “playing” or constructing his own knowledge?
As noted in the Washington post article, not all schools or professors are shutting down technology; Seton Hall University is giving all incoming students a MacBook and an iPad. As the world changes and becomes more “flat” we need to find ways to engage people in more complex thinking. The 21st Century skills and technology go hand in hand.
We all construct knowledge; we want to connect to our learning. However, we need the instructor to guide us…not dictate all learning. Humans are not educated on an assembly line. As a teacher, I often guide my student toward learning objectives, but let them connect the learning in their own way. I often talk about the “accidental learning” that takes place in my room. Students are working to achieve classroom, district, or state goals but learn a large amount beyond that by accidentally reading, seeing, viewing something beyond these objectives. They begin to construct knowledge and learn how to learn. The true goal of 21st Century skills is to become life long learners—computers and technology help us do that, but they will never replace the guide: teachers.
So, do you agree? Let me here your ideas. Have a good weekend. Garth
About 5 minutes ago I Skyped Garth during a workshop...I should note he is sitting right next to me. As we were talking about ways to use Skype and GoggleVoice together, I discovered a button that has been sitting right in front of me that I had never "clicked"; but I finally did click-it and it opens a whole new, dynamic way to use Skype.
When you are in a Skype call, there is a button labeled "share". By clicking this button you can send a live image of your desktop, or a portion of your desktop, to the person with which you are conversing. This allows you to share anything that may be open on your screen: show cool websites, share documents, give a tutorial to someone, share digital photos, etc.
Garth and I are currently sitting here discussing/playing with this new feature in Skype. We are thinking that this may bypass the need for GoogleDocs, since you can talk to someone and have one person do the typing. In my building I have several students who use Skype to talk to family members around the world, now they can share digital pictures of events in their lives without the need to email or file share in other formats. This is very exciting stuff. If you have used this feature, please leave us a comment on how we may incorporate this in our classrooms.
I was updating our Facebook page and took a moment to browse through the 101 members. Oddly enough, all but 4 or 5 are from across the pond; living in places like the U.K., Spain, Tunisia, etc. I would love if some of those international members would write a comment to this post. How did you find out about us? What type of technology/resources are available to you as teachers and professionals? Can I have my students Skype with you next year as we study different regions of the world? Garth and I are delighted that such a diverse group of people are beginning to share and collaborate via this site.
The year is over. I am now at the beach in N.C. with my family, but everyone is sleeping, so it gives me some time to reflect. Mike and I have done some great work this year for, and with, our students. By using skype, Google docs, inspiration, comic life, wikis, Google earth and other technologies, we have been able to link students in a way that would not have been possible when I was in high school in the late 1980's or when Mike was finishing high school in the late 1990's. Technology has experienced exponential growth and we teachers are playing catch-up. I see how technology has effected our teaching; how it is impacting teachers in my building and student learning. It is truly amazing to see what is happening, but the question continues to be: how has it changed teaching and learning? I think as teachers, we tend to use the final "product" to analyze the effect of methodology and the use of technology. I don't think everyone can see the change brought about by the use of technology by looking at a students podcast, imovie, wiki, etc. These final products are great technological tools, but you cannot see the collaboration, research, revision in any of these final products. Like these blog entries; you see the final written piece, but no nothing of the revisions and conversations (Mike's revising this right now) that go into an outstanding final product.
The question, however, must still be answered. Modern education loves data and proof, however, proof and data do not always tell the complete story. We must explain how technology changes our role as teachers and how it impacts the role of students and individual learning. I will not be able to answer these on my own and will ask for your help: please add your ideas and explain how technology/computer have changed teaching and learning in your classroom.
Daniel Pink said ""We are preparing students for their future, not our past." I believe this is the place we must start. Often I hear: "We used a textbook all the time and I turned out fine." We are preparing the students for a future that no one knows what it will bring. Our students (7th graders) will retire around the year 2060? Think about that. I understand the idea that pencil and paper were fine for teaching students to function in an industrial world, but now we are facing a global "flat world" and students must be prepared to work in ways not possible 10 years ago. Books like, "Wikinomics" by Dan Tapscott and Anthony Williams, was written from Canada and England without the two authors meeting in person. In fact, they did not even finish the book, but invited anyone to edit the final chapter in a wiki online. This is very different from the traditional book. We are living in a world where individual-created content is exploding on the web. You tube, in one minute, has 24 hours of new material uploaded to its site. That happens every minute! Not to mention 2 billion videos viewed each day. Facebook, has 400 million active members--many of those are our students (that is 90 million more people then inhabit the United States). We need to prepare students for a world where communication, critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving are the key building blocks for success. They need 21st Century skills--not that content is not important, but as "Did you Know" states: where were questions asked before Google (BG)--31 billion every month. We have to prepare them to think, to engage with content and to be creative in solving problems. We need to prepare them for a world very different from out past.
So, we need to highlight how this changes our teaching and student learning. I would like to provide a few key ideas and then hope you will respond with more ideas. This is a question education must be able to answer as we move toward more technology integration in the classroom. We have to explain how technology impacts student learning.
1. It requires teachers to be risk takers--but based on sound educational principals.
2. It focuses less on content and more on process, understanding, and critical thinking about material.
3. It requires "old" skills (reading, writing,etc..) but develops new skills need for the changing world.
4. It exposes students to engaging social networking in an educational setting
5. It establishes and allows students to can create their own knowledge based on fact and content.
6. It makes learning and teaching more FUN.
These two Youtubes, might help us to think about this idea (Then and Now: Tom Woodward's Blog). I hope to hear from you, Cheers, Garth
Garth and I recently allowed our students to collaborate in creating an online textbook. The differences in technology between our two classrooms created an interesting problem: How do we allow students to collaborate? This is how we solved that problem...
Garth's students create a GoogleDoc that was broken into all of the different "big idea" topics that were studied throughout the school year. These topics were based on the standards: Agricultural Revolution, Ancient Greece, Middle Ages, etc. Students in Garth's classes filled in this GoogleDoc with the most important key words, phrases, ideas that they could think of for each topic. At the same time, in my classes, I used butcher paper to create the same type of list. Then, I projected Garth's GoogleDoc on my front board. My students were able to watch, in real-time, as Garth's students added to their list. I had my students write information on index cards that Garth's students did not have on their list. Then, we Skyped Garth's students and told them we had been watching them work. My students would come up to the computer, one-at-a-time, and tell Garth's students concepts that we had thought of that they did not have on their list.
Our classes used these lists to help them decide what they wanted to research to add to the online textbook. As students were creating digital content in Garth's classroom, my students were in the computer lab doing the same thing. The result was that our students participated in a year-end review of our World History course together, via GoogleDocs and Skype, and were able to create web pages, PowerPoints, images, cartoons, podcasts, etc.
Julie Ungier, our school Librarian and I attend a meeting several weeks back at Kent State University. She wrote the following blog about the events of that meeting.
A few weeks ago, I joined a select group of school librarians and classroom teachers in a focus group for the TRAILS project. Has anyone heard of this or used this great resource? It's a free real-time web based assessment for students assessing information literacy skills. Currently there is a test for 6th graders and a test for 9th graders. Teachers or librarians can instruct students to take this test individually online, and access the results of individual students and the class as whole. It's a great way to assess where students stand in terms of information literacy. Try it out! http://www.trails-9.org/ and let us know what you think.
Sir Ken Robinson new TED talk was released last week. It is 20 minute so thought provoking ideas about the future of Education. TED, describes his talk: "In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning -- creating conditions where kids' natural talents can flourish."
Let me know what you think of Sir Robinsons ideas.