Sunday, October 23, 2011

How To Use Technology To Transform the Way You Teach and Students Learn

When you think about transformers, you probably think about cool robots that are also cars or planes. With a few quick turns and clicks any child can convert the car to a robot and back again. The robots do things the car can't and take on the world in a whole different way.

Whether you have access to a netbook cart, a library lab, an iPod set, an iPad or classroom computer stations, it is time to think about how computers can also be transformers. Students are able to use their imaginations and knowledge to create and share ideas in ways that would never have been possible with paper and pencil. Teachers can collaborate with students and their peers, have access to a global network of resources and teach using real world data. Computers make it possible to make connections to classrooms beyond the limits of our brick and stone building and our fieldtrip budget. Computers also can play an important roll in formative assessments allowing students to show what they know...and what they still need to learn.  This kind of transformative learning is at the core of the 21st Century Learning concept.

In order for the computers to become transformers, teachers need to be transformed. This is not an easy task. Their approach to classroom management, assessing student learning, sharing knowledge and mastering content can not just be bent, twisted and clicked into place to create some new, 21st century teacher. Instead, teachers need to be coached and encouraged to make these changes themselves. They need to see concrete examples of how technology can be used in a transformative way in their classrooms, they need access to tools that work and they need the support and recognition of their peers as they try out new ideas. Over the next year, as we work together on Align Assess Achieve and the Ohio Common Core, it will be my job to help with this transformation.
To help us get started, I have put together some guiding questions to use as you plan lessons for this year and we begin to plan for aligning our curriculum to the Common Core by 2014.

Guiding Questions for Transformative Technology Planning
  • Am I using technology as a subsitute for existing materials in my classroom or am I using it in an innovative way to assess student learning, help students work towards content mastery or develop 21st century skills?
  • Are my students passive users of the technology or active users of the technology?
  • How has technology changed the way I think about teaching?
  • How has technology changed the way I collaborate and communicate with my colleagues?
  • How has technology changed the way I collaborate and communicate with my students?
  • I am embedding technology into my daily teaching or is it more of a "special event"?
  • What are the state technology standards that can be embedded in my course?
  • How can I integrate technology standards into my daily lessons?
  • How can I integrate 21st century skills into my daily lessons?
  • How can I use the technology to differentiate my lessons for different learning styles, different learning levels and different ability groups?
  • How can I use the technology as tool to help with formative assessment?
  • How can I encourage students who have an interest in working with technology hardware or innovating with technology?

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