The Reflective Educator

Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

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Day: March 6, 2010

1 to 1 computing in the classroom

Gary Stager has presented some ideas in his presentation on 1 to 1 computing devices.  Rather than focusing explicitly on the uses of the devices, he focuses on the big picture that computers are imagination devices, and should be used as such.  The focus of his presentation was on how the creative use of computational devices by the students can lead to powerful learning experiences.

Here are his top 10 uses of a computer:

  1. Write a novel
    – Remember that a novel can take many forms and involve many different types of media. Graphic novels, audio podcasts, all of these are ways to involve students in the creative writing process and setting high standards helps them understand that their work needs to be edited, reviewed, and re-edited.

  2. Share knowledge
    – Students need to learn how to share with each other appropriately. Teachers should recognize that their students have useful knowledge and giving them the opportunity to share it will empower them.
    – Instead of the teacher being the only expert in the room, every kid with access to Google can be an expert on a topic area.

  3. Answer tough questions
    – Students can use technology to look at phenomena that are otherwise inaccessible.  Let them explore and find tough questions during their exploration and learn the answers to the questions.

  4. Make sense of data
    – Using computers to generate iconic representations of data which the students get. 
    – Computers can also be used to generate the data the students want to look at through electronic simulations.

  5. Design a video game
    – Instead of playing a poorly designed game, students should design their own game and learn the concepts required to make their game realistic, instead of educators trying to make a game fit the kids expectations.

  6. Build a Killer Robot
    – There are lots of different robots, and many, many useful skills and pieces of information students can learn through the process of constructing a robot. One should be careful here to allow the students as much choice as possible in the construction rather than having the creation of a robot be a new part of a larger curriculum.

  7. Lose weight
    – Students should have ownership of their fitness.  Technology lets students keep track of their own performance and set realistic goals for themselves.

  8. Direct a blockbuster
    – One area students have a big weakness is in setting high standards for themselves. We should set high standards for them and make sure they understand how to make a professional quality video.

  9. Compose a symphony
    – Technology today can allow students to create an entire symphony in their laptop using either free or low cost tools.  The value of creating music is immeasurable.  Perhaps some of your students will be able to unleash their talents.  Actually chances are pretty good, your talented students are already creating their own music. I know mine are.

  10. Change the world
    – The ability to communicate with a wide variety of people, interact with media from all over the world, and learn about the problems of the world is greatly enhanced with technology. Students can help connect resources to the areas of the world that desperately need them, and take small steps toward changing this world of ours which has so many challenges.

These aren’t the only things, there are thousands of things kids can do. Computers empower kids and can give them unlimited opportunities to be successful. The objective of 1 to 1 computing devices should not be to teach the old curriculum differently, but to allow students the opportunities to be creative.  Instead of creating regimented curriculum for kids to do with the devices, educators should focus on providing the tools for the students and prompt for open ended problems.

 

Reflection on adult learning session

This morning I was not able to attend a session on using iPod touches in the classroom because it was cancelled, and then I missed an opportunity to learn more about Smartboards because the session was full.  I was upset but sat down and looked through the program and tried to find an alternative.  Finally I settled on a session about learning about how adults learn differently than children.

I ended up being glad I attended this session largely because I managed to find some relevance in it toward my expanded professional development role next year.  My reasoning for attending this session in the first place was that I could use some training in teaching adults.

Essentially what I learned that in terms of HOW you teach adults, pretty much the best practices that work with kids work with adults as well.  The presenter listed the top things that adults need to be able to learn properly, as she went through the list I recognized it as a list of things that work really well when teaching students. The big things on the list that I saw were that adult learners want to be comfortable when learning, may need learning accommodations, they have relevant outside experience, and that they need to be shown respect.

What I learned that was a reinforcement of something I knew, is that adults have much different motivation for being in your class or professional development session than do students.  For kids, they pretty much all have to be in your classroom for some reason and often lack much choice about which courses they take.  As a result, we spend a lot of time as educators trying to motivate students as to the relevance of our material.  While this is true to a lesser degree for adults, often even when they are forced into your session they have both extrinsic and intrinsic reasons for being in your class.

So the lesson is, focus on the way you teach, and not on the adult motivation to me, since you really lack control over motivation.  You can generally assume that the adults will participate and belong, as long as you focus on making the instruction appropriate.  You should differentiate your instruction, provide alternative assessments, be flexible, adjust your instruction for your differently abled learners, and all of the other things that we consider to be best practices in teaching.