… I think I’ve thought about my future classroom so much, shared so much these last few week, that I thought I’d shared here. Anyway, here’s the short version:
Computers for each kid, yes, but an access thing, not an at-the-desk thing. I don’t like the feel of kids in rows behind computers. I see my future as active, with the students weaving in and out of learning areas that integrate technology seamlessly with other ways that they were learning. I’m all about project-based, inquiry learning and social action projects. I love group work, so yes, there will be wikis and oodles of options for kids to demonstrate their learning. I want my students to learn alongside peers from around the world, learn from teachers around the world and learn from having a world-wide audience to publish for and to comment on their work. I hope that the learning environment will be filled with diversity, and that it will be student-led.
The tools that make sense are the tools that will fit what is needed, that will push the kids to ask hard questions and engage with their content, with each other, and with their home and global communities. As much as possible, tools should be kid-selected. Isn’t that exactly what we did as we, a class of ECMP355 learners, began to discover as we worked through our final projects? If my students need for me to learn a new tool, then I will. I’m not scared any more. In fact, I’ll strive to introduce new tools with each new group. I will continue to build on our collective learnings. I’m not nervous any more; I’m only excited about being a tech teacher. I’ll map out my units, getting feedback from the kids as I go and we will figure out the ‘how’ together. I don’t want to become a one-sided teacher either, where I plan a lesson or unit around technology. I want technology to be integrated into my lessons. I do not want to isolate technology from the other curriculum areas. I want my students and I to learn the technology skills we need together. I’ve heard this referred to as “just in time learning” and I believe its the best way to learn skills – in context. And I’m not going to start small. That’s not me. I’m a Middle Years teacher for goodness sake. It’s called jump in and get wet.
I want my kids to know that if they are comfortable making a movie, or colouring a poster or singing a song or being private, public, global or anything in between, that all spaces are valued. I want my students to be able to find the medium that best empowers their individual and collective voices. I love the idea of scribes and students “owning” the content on the blog, but I’m also keenly aware that this kind of pressure might not work for all learners. Merging technology into my classroom will be all about differentiation!
How about what my classroom does not look like? It is not a place where technology is used as a vehicle to entertain a child with a disability. Ex: When a child is acting up or the teacher needs a break, the student is allowed to play a non educational computer game. Technology, though often a learning aid, in not a substitute for teaching and learning. Technology is not a set of skills learned in isolation. That would be like learning to bouce a basketball but never transferring that skill or playing the Game / Technology is not just about using the computer as a digital pencil for reproducing old ideas. There’s a whole big world out there to be discovered using technology. Technology is not an end onto itself. It is a means to making learning more meaningful for kids.
I see myself as a tag along guide, door opener person. I don’t know it all, and don’t ever want to. I do know that I’ll have to be able to ask good, engaging questions, and get the kids talking, exploring. I know that learning, as much as possible, needs to be fun and should mirror the way that students learn outside of school. Like teaching, learning must be rich with choice. Technology will help provide those choices.