A recent article in the NYT Op section made me think about how maybe all this internet savvy this and oh I should be using technology to teach might be putting the cart before the horse. Are we setting generations to come up? Will they be less free than we are now given the corporations strong hold on our information. True or false information that they use general to know us personally.
Here it is – must read!
My Precalculus class is partaking in an activity that is for right now temporary and under consideration. Each student is responsible for scribing about two days. They can say what class was about, add videos, describe an aha momentary etc. They are getting graded for participating and then more then make of their post the better their grade can be. So far I have been very impressed with the way the students are taking on this endeavor. But how does this become worthwhile? How do I get us all invested in this website/blog. I have a website for each of me three upper school classes and the only one that seems to get much attention is the PCA one because of the blogging. But I am not sure I have the energy to take on all three classes doing this activity. Is there a way to get this activity to be more student driven? Guess I will keeping thinking. Anyone out there have some ideas. Here is the link to the blog: precalculusdouglas.posterous.com
So what do you do when you have it all set, the lights are low and the players are set. Then BAM – your site is blocked and folks over in tech are talking with SF, but really are on hold with SF and no end in sight? Okay so this is OVER exaggerated and I am pouting and as soon as I get home I can Facebook all I want, but really -technology is dependent on the other guy, the site working, the typos typed out and the system being a go – for me – whenever I want it! Right?!?!? The biggie was losing all my grades but what about the everyday – when the lights go out! Thankfully – my grade thingy figured itself out nicely and this block thing will be gone before it came – a quick blip in my daily tech work. Who is to say that it won’t all go away for good. Dooms day or not we do tend to use use use use use until it is all gone. When that moment comes, I will light my fire, pitch my tent, and watch the stars twinkle in peace. (I hope!)
….blogged. I have been bad and not inspired. I am weighted down by the everyday and feel like I can just get by. Uhgg….. I hate this feeling. I want to be inventive, exciting and a miracle worker. But all I am is a teacher. Or by definition isn’t that what a teacher is? inventive, exciting and a miracle worker? I feel like sometimes it is a big smoke screen but in actuality it is not. My teaching and my teaching with technology should be one in the same. I do try to work out the best way to approach a topic that will help my students interact with it in a way that is useful to them. More and more this does involve technology. Remembering that all of it is technology – the pencil, the white board even the topic – Math – was all at one time new and exhilarating – brand new. So what is it about today and “technology” that we have to grab on to. In the book we read over the summer it is less about the technology and more about the seamless approach people are taking when involved with online communities. How can I make my classroom emulate this type of approach. I want my students to step away from the traditional of me telling them and get them to be more about what interests them. That leaves me with the easy task of making the math interesting and worth figuring out. The old saying – “When is this going to be useful in everyday life for me?” I have heard that more than I can count (infinite?), but where does the beauty and the passion come in? Is there any beauty and passion in math? I have it – do you? I guess technology could be the bridge that could help some grab onto the pure math I love so much but for lots (and I mean most) it is a subject to get through so they can move on to……. what? Anyway – it is Saturday morning and I want coffee. More thinking, more figuring but also more remembering how much I truly love this job!
I wanted to blog about the idea of having my students contribute to the classroom blogs. A friend suggested it and in doing so made me think a lot about the use of a blog in a class and what it is for. Would this add to the work for students? Would it be helpful so they can process through what we did in class? How about having them take turns posting the review of the day and then other students can check and comment if there is something that doesn’t quite sit right for them. Not sure how this might work. I am really sensitive to making this tech thing more work, making class focus bedifferent than the material we have to get to, and disengaging the students as oppose to engaging them like I want to. Change is slow (right?), but what I find particularly at odds is nowadays change is rather quick and we are slow to catch up. I will ponder this idea more with the student/blog thing, but would love to hear what you think about it. I am on the fence.
So tonight I am going to introduce my last audience to my blog. Not sure the first – friends and family, nor the second – students, cared all that much. Sure they appreciate it and yes they all were very complementary and supportive. But the test really comes (does there have to be a test?) when the very people who entrust me with their children start to read. The point of the blog is to delve into this technology head on. To see what it feels like to be out there and public for anyone to see. I am enjoying it so far but what I know will also be up on this blog are my mistakes. Things that worked great! And stuff that flopped hard. I might also spell words incorrectly, use poor grammar, and out myself in a number of ways that I can’t even imagine right now. What I also know about this group of parents is they are excited too. About their child’s education, their future and what the school they send their child to so great – the relationships. I am good at connecting in person. I try to use humor, compassion and love to bridge gaps between people. Now I just have to see how that works online. I am up for it!
A colleague and I are playing around with the idea of flip classroom. This is when the student watches the lesson at home and then works on assignments and projects in class. So the teacher becomes more involved with the hands on learning and the passive lessons are left for home. Here is an article that talks about how two teachers made this flip classroom idea work for them. Click here. The time thing is my problem and becoming fluent at creating these lessons. I am not sure using other people’s videos is the best idea but that is where we will start. This is driven by my colleague (and friend) so I am lucky to be collaborating with her. I will post again to tell you how it went. We are attempting this with a Real Number video and an Absolute Value video.
More to come.
It is the start of week two with this “tech” thing. I have to keep reminding myself that really I am not a novice at this tech thing. When I taught at a private school right outside of NYC I worked with a smart board and the school had distributed laptops to the entire upper school. We battled low batteries, lost laptops, etc. This was in 1998. I taught my entire Geometry class with the laptop and the smart board. So what is the difference? The access to the technology is different, the way it is infused into the students everyday is different. The apps, the internet access, the types of tools that are at our finger tips, all different. Today I had a colleague ask her class to take out their cell phone if they had unlimited texting so that she could do a poll on polleverywhere. All but one student had this option so she only needed one laptop. WOW. I have been using my iPad like I have had it for five years. All of my information is on it. No longer wedded to my computer I can access my professional information in multiple ways and from anywhere. Pretty cool. My blogs for my classes are up and running and I have found it rather easy and fun to post everyday. I guess I try to not worry about how much and how grand. One step at a time.