After breakfast, she gets to school and goes to chemistry. The lab report is almost done, but she needs to verify a few facts. She logs on to the FHS Chem. custom search engine and quickly finds the information needed. Also, she sees another source that might help a friend of hers. She saves it to the search engine and notifies her friend. Before she leaves, she looks at the rubric for the lab and notices there is not a criteria for graphics. She knows that quality images can seal the deal…so she adds the category, knowing full well that her friends will undoubtedly fill in the criteria later today.
Art class: She was curios as to what Amanda and Steve meant last night about the Dali painting. She had recorded her views last night and heard theirs, but was not sure what they meant. She couldn’t wait to get to class to talk to them.
Algebra 2 found her completing exercises on line. She thought the activities were ok, (she liked getting feedback and answers right away) but Mom was really happy that her textbook fee was almost zero this year. Whatever she couldn’t finish in class, she could complete at home. And she was so happy not to have to lug that backpack all around; her laptop was no more cumbersome than a notebook.
After school found
Tech-savvy people will realize that EVERYTHING
So why aren’t we doing this now?
Clearly, not everyone is privy to all of these tools. Undoubtedly, by the time this is published, several of these tools may be obsolete, and replaced by something better. So how do we get these tools into the hands of teachers, and most importantly, into the hands of students?
We all know that all teachers lie somewhere on the “tech continuum.” All schools have the “bleeding edge” and “technophobic” faculty members. Also, while districts make opportunities available, compulsory technology is perceived by many as an invasion of professional discretion, whether intended or not. Clearly, “Thou shalt use technology” is not the answer.
There are some answers though, I believe. First, more districts (including my own) are adopting a cooperative learning model for teachers, often referred to as “PLC’S” (Professional Learning Communities) which foster sharing among professionals. Last month I explained to a French teacher how blogs can be used in a classroom. She adapted and applied the skill to work for her own learners. When her colleagues saw her students’ results, they wanted to do the same. Without the collaborative environment, no one else would have known what great things that French teacher was doing. When I read Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point I never realized how true his theories were until I became a Tech coordinator. In a school of 230 teachers, there is no way to get to all of them. You need to trust your “Connectors,” like my French teacher.
The other way to get teachers to embrace these tools is to build a “compelling why” for the teacher. I witnessed one of my teachers poring over dozens of student emails, opening and saving attachments, and frantically writing comments. When asked, he told me that he had his students writing a collaborative paper…via email. Student one made an addition, passed it on to the next student, all the while copying the instructor…
After I defined “wiki” for him, his relief was palpable. The teacher had the idea, had the concept…he just didn’t have the tool.
And we must remember that they are just tools. Teachers are more likely to embrace these tools if we focus on the objective first. You don’t build a house because you just bought a table saw. You get a table saw because you need it to build the house. It’s about the learning…not the tools.