Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How could you adapt or change one of your current class/course policies to reflect a moving mindset?

I am flipping my classroom this year and as I move on with this process, I am increasing my knowledge about technology and what type of activities the students may do in the class climate.

"Waiting for Superman" presented by Will Richardson gave me much food for thought.  I love the idea of life prep vs. test prep in schools.  My English 10 class reads Tuesdays with Morrie and has interesting and spontaneous discussions about the life lessons in the book.  We watch the real Morrie talk with Ted Koppel on youtube videos.  We watch the digital DVD of the wonderful movie which follows the book.  Students type essays in word processing software and create multimedia digital presentations they collaborate together to produce about the life lesson they chose to study in greater depth. So, I've had some flipped components in my classroom for awhile now even though this is the first year I've identified it as flipped. Actually, it may have been a "flipped" classroom before there was technology since higher level thinking skills and collaborative projects have always been a part of my curriculum.

"In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."  Eric Hoffer  Wow! What a quote!  None of us know what the future holds. We like to dream about it.  We like to plan for it.  Science Fiction has always been a fun genre to study, but in recent years much of science fiction technology has become actual life. 

I love Will Richardson's statement that knowledge is everywhere. Of course, it always has been, but it has never been as accessible as it is today. My students can Skype with authors or scientists, go on digital field trips, google information in an instant that would not have been available in snail mail days, or would have taken much longer to arrive if we sent for it. We can make digital books of classroom writing with lulu at relatively cheap costs. Videos and multi-media presentations may be uploaded to you tube. Who knows?  Maybe a collaborative class project might even go viral?

Since our technology committee is planning ahead for what we will do in two years with 1:1 and other tech innovations in the classroom, the article that suggested an exit pass for students to speculate on how technology could have been used in the day's lesson was awesome for me.  I plan to share that article with the committee and perhaps our staff will begin to do that.  I definitely am going to add it to the list of exit pass questions that I ask on a regular basis.

I am studying and have found a set of literary terminology cards that are perfect for my curriculum. I'm going to try to implement that project into my class soon.

My greatest concern is the moral question of what happens with the haves and the have nots. If you are teaching in an affluent school in a city which has wireless connections, you do not have to consider one of my main issues.  We live in hills.  Cable, wi-fi, and cell phone connections have many dead zones here. Some students and faculty live in total dead zones. The can take the cell phone with them to school or town, but when they go home it won't connect. We don't have free wi-fi in town. There is a McDonald's in the neighboring town but I have not tried to connect there. Even our school network has its ups and downs. Some days it seems to be down more than up, which makes planning tech lesson plans risky at best. Always have a plan b lesson plan in case it's a no network day. 

Furthermore, over sixty percent of our school population is on free or reduced lunch. Many, but not all, students have cell phones, internet connections, internet at home, or wi-fi outside of school. Some students have the one computer at home and several family members (including parents) who want to use it. Let's be honest about how the Facebook vs. homework battle is going to go.  Often, websites which work well on the network will not work well for students at home due to dial-up.  Do you know how long it takes a picture or video to load on dial-up?  

So, although I am plunging ahead into integrating as much technology into my classroom as I can, I am also realistic about how much some students will be able to accomplish outside of school.  If Johnny is already way ahead of Billy and Billy lives in a dead zone, how much farther behind is he going to become each year?  These are all questions that like the Hoffer quote, have no immediate resolutions.

1 comment:

  1. I think your final paragraphs sum up, perfectly, what we are all apprehensive about. My community is very similar to yours and we battle the same problems each day. It makes it difficult because we are dealing with a larger issue that lawmakers and politicians are ignoring. As the keys to success/learning shift to more expensive technology, how are we supposed to keep the playing field even? Paper and pencils are cheap, and they always have been. One set of encyclopedias to teach thirty-five or more students is cheap. Thirty-five iPads and thirty-five internet connections in NOT cheap. Our desire to move our profession forward is great, but I believe we are out pacing our ability to provide ALL students with the same opportunity. Gaps are widening, even as our world gets smaller through technology.