My school is currently transitioning into a more technologically savvy community. We're not only updating our software, but also our mission statement. We've recognize that students in our classes move at different paces, but we haven't been able to keep up or slow down for enough of them simultaneously - technology is a way to help do that and that's what we aim to do next year.
Here are a few examples of what we plan to incorporate in our classrooms.
Independent Online Lessons
I have a population of students who I see much less than everyday - this is due to a range of causes spanning homelessness, asthma, and plain old fashioned cutting. Getting these students back on track is a frustrating task for both them and me. One proposal we're working on would allow students to access mini lessons and download independent practice exercises online. If they come into class having missed 3 days, they'll have the option of sitting down at a computer and catching up on at least the mini lessons, to reorient themselves. They can even check them out at home before or after (although I recognize that will be much less likely for the first and third category of student I mentioned earlier).
Another way we're considering reshaping curriculum is to layout an entire semester's work online, and help students choose and set goals on which topics and at what pace they work. Teachers become managers and coaches in this model, as well as facilitators of whole class discussions around common texts at least once a week. The model does not in any way call for the reign of computers and demise of teachers, but rather asks teachers to change the way they use their expertise. I find that when I give my mini lessons to a whole group, as I later circulate the room to check for understanding, I end up re-explaining many elements anyway. Why not spend less time "on stage" and more time with individual conferencing which I've always found to be the most effective tool for helping students quickly clear learning hurdles. Our goal is to start small and ease our way into it this change.
We recognize that our students on average are much savvier with technology than many of the adults in the building, but we're hoping to show those members of our staff how an initiative like this could make their job both easier and more effective.
With the rate of change in technology, we need to quit resisting and start recognizing that there are better ways. I've already started allowing students to look up vocabulary words on their phones instead of in the dictionary. When some older teachers in my building want to hang me for this, I reference how we no longer teach students how to use the card catalog. The new teacher working across the hall from me hasn't even heard of a card catalog...
Phil is a real teacher blogger for TeachHUB.com. Established by teachers, for teachers, TeachHUB.com offers educators recommended classroom tools, professional development, daily lesson plans, and education news. The website is dedicated to improving the quality of education and invests in the opinions of teachers when providing resources and support for both inside and outside the classroom.