I was responding to a post on Mr. Keenan’s blog “Adventures in Teaching and Learning” about the effective use of iPods in the classroom when it hit me. There is no free lunch. Tools that result in gains in learning require increased effort on the part of the teacher. No exceptions.
Technology is a GREAT tool. It flattens the world. It opens doors for students- sometimes ones that we wish would stay closed. But it is what it is, and we aren’t going backwards.
Technology doesn’t replace supervision. I flashback to 9th grade social studies. Every Friday afternoon we sat in 5 rows of 5 and watched filmstrips while our teacher (who was also the football coach) prepped for the next day’s game. We had little direction other than “watch the filmstrip.” As you can imagine, my attention was captured by the quarterback in back of me rather than the filmstrip in front of me.
The coach never left his desk and paid us little attention. We returned the favor. Notes were passed, we did other homework, and all I can tell you about the filmstrip is that it was about Africa. I think.
My point here is that teaching with technology is ACTIVE teaching. It requires that we get up, walk around, and engage with our students. It’s less about “knowing what they are doing” and more about finding out what they are thinking. My students teach me a lot on those walkarounds.
The off task student often has something to teach you as well. Ask they why they are off task- they are, most likely, either confused or bored or both. Feeling them out helps you in two ways. It lets you know how you can clarify either your objectives or your directions. It also makes you look at the relevancy of what you are asking your students to do. Admittedly, sometimes kids just don’t want to do the work; but I’ll stick my neck out here. When you take the time to ask a student what they think, they think. You get some credibility when you show that what they say has value to you.
Not much has changed. It’s important to have a purpose to the technology that you use in class- and it can’t be so that you, as teacher, can disengage from your classroom. If anything, it requires more diligence on your part than the worksheet requires. When well done, the payoff is worth the effort.