Posts Tagged ‘ teaching ’

Is The Money Worth It?

Recently, I read and article in Education Canada by Ron Canuel.  He reviews the issue of increased student learning and technology cost.

I have read more than a few articles on this issue and a few blogs as well.  Many schools are striving to become 1:1 schools where every student has a laptop or iPad.  Obviously, there is a cost to this type of programming and many educators and reformers think the money should go elsewhere.  Many literacy advocates have felt that this money was not available for libraries, but is suddenly available for technology.

Even the  people who value technology, believe money is not spent wisely.  The issue I read most about is, “should schools be using interactive whiteboards to the extent they are or be using the money to become a 1:1 school.”  Bill Ferriter has written a lot about this on his Tempered Radical Blog.

Mr. Canuel cites a study published by the Journal of Technology, Learning and assessment (JTLA).  Basically, it stated that technology used in a traditional manner will use traditional results.  Larry Cuban also noted this and has stated the use of technology was oversold and underutilized.

Canuel found the JTLA article also noted something very important.   Many researchers who are against tech. spending are focusing on the trees rather than the forest.  Their meta-analysis research found that “the creation of new-paradigm schools that are self-organizing…are creating a dynamic in the classroom where students become increasingly engaged in their learning.  The participation of students in the design of teaching strategies  and assessments does generate an increase student achievement.”

Simply stated, if we do not have specific purposes for technology use and integration, increases in learning will be minimal.  However, if specific learning targets are set, with proper planned use for tech., engagement of students in learning should increase.  If students are engaged in their learning, the results will show.  It does not matter if it’s a whiteboard, iPad or a laptop.  If the tool is not used properly, learning is minimal.  Is video used effectively in most classrooms, or the old filmstrips?

I believe technology (and its many platforms) can increase student learning, but like anything, it needs to be used properly and teachers need the PD to be able to do this.  I believe the creation of networks, PLN’s and administrator support can help teachers use technology to engage students and thus increase student learning.

Your thoughts?

Key questions:

How should schools and divisions purchase technology? Are we following best practice and research?

Are we influenced too much by tech. companies and just buy without specific plans in place. Does the planning take to long and then the infrastructure and tech. skills lag behind?

How should we use technology to effectively engage students?

No Matter What…You’re LIVE

I often read posts and tweets asking what kind of advice you could give to new teachers.  The tips passed along are very thoughtful and helpful for those new to the profession.  Even for us who have been around for a while (am I in THAT group now?), these tips are great reminders about effective practice.

Whenever I see the above question posed, I often think of the usual elements.  Eg. effective communicator, classroom manager, personable, effective planner, etc, etc.  Don’t get me wrong, these are all very important along with many other traits.  But the BIG idea we all need to think of as teachers is the fact that day in and day out – you’re LIVE!

I first heard this phrase from a colleague, who sometime ago, started a business using this as a slogan (Paul if it’s OK I am borrowing it for a moment). However, when you think about it, it is very real for educators.

Each day, in or out of the classroom, educators are LIVE.  The number of interactions each day with students, staff, parents and community members are significant.  Each day you are expected to have your “A” game.  When you do not deliver, you usually hear about or realize it.  Reflective practitioners know this instantly.

As teachers, we need to realize that each day, we are delivering numerous mini-workshops/presentations to students.  As administrators we need to have our “A” game each day as well.  That is why few people want to become admin’s. If we (or someone else) do not make good judgments, we will definitely hear about it.  If one thinks about it, we have many common traits with professional athletes, only a televised audience is not watching at the time.  Mind you, a school with a bunch of adolescents is pretty much network television each day.

So, if I was to give professional advice to a new or seasoned teacher, I would indicate that each day you’re LIVE.   From here, we could discuss the specifics/nuances of what that means.  However, I think this is one BIG IDEA we all should remember in our day-to-day work as educators.


This is also posted on Connected Principals

I Like This Stuff

Fact or Urban Legend?

Today one of my teachers had his class investigate whether an egg could stand on end during the fall equinox.  The initial results were positive, but does it end with the winter solstice?

I like these kinds of lessons and I wish I could think of them more often!

Granted the premise is simple, but I believe the lesson can be expanded upon even more.  Is this the kind of experiment one uses to introduce the scientific method?  How can technology be integrated?  How/when do we move into the higher order thinking skills?  In the spirit of WCYDWT by Dan Meyer, I believe this simple experiment can lead to so much more.

I welcome your input.  Feel free to pass along as well.  maybe a good PD exercise for your staff.

Chris Lehmann

On Tuesday night, Chris Lehmann was our guest presenter.  He provided insight on his new school SLA.  He also described the grounding philosophy on how the school operates along with the role technology plays in this inquiry model.  Specifically:

  • How do we learn?
  • What can we create?
  • What does it mean to lead?

From this presentation, I feel this school does a good job of setting common goals or purposes.  They use inquiry and set the structure of the school around common goals.  All staff members teach toward the common purpose and parents know what the school’s mission is up front.   I am reading a book by Mike Schmoker and he describes effective schools as ones who collaborate and are totally focused on a common purpose, that is, to improve student learning.  I think many schools in Sask. are learning this through the PLC philosophy as well.

The 1:1 learning philosophy is something we would all love to have.  I am not sure if we all need a laptop to do this, but I am sure it helps.

I was also intrigued to hear that students spend much of a school day online.  This is part of their inquiry model.  I was somewhat surprised to hear they have the same issues monitoring students online as we do.  Maybe that is something we should look into more?

Related blog posts:

Suzanne, Laurie

The Social Web

The evolution of the internet has had a significant impact in education.  The amount of information readily available is literally astounding.  The ability to interact with people around the world, on a daily basis, has further developed the global community.

So far I have been able to have contact with other people around the world through blogging.  I started to blog about a year ago, but never had the drive to continue.  Part of it was because no one was reading my blog.  The “blogosphere” has changed this for me and has opened a whole new world of information and contact with others.  Some tasks that I had difficulty with in the first week were easily fixed with help from others, people who I don’t really even know.  Twitter and email helped me get direct contact and help from people.  I am becoming a fan of screencasts as well.  I knew the amount of info. on YouTube was significant and I believe this to an even higher extent now.

I believe the social web is a great tool for learning.  In PLC terms, we focus on collaboration to help teachers get better.  We should emphasize collaboration with students as well.  In constructivist terms, the social web enables students to interact with others from all walks of life, in a timely manner.  The “pool” of knowledge is vast and students should benefit from it.

Of course, this interaction needs to be monitored.  With the web expanding rapidly, we cannot keep up and track all the bad elements with the internet.  This is possibly why some educators are hesitant to incorporate technology.  The traditional way of teaching is much easier, familiar and safer.  However, I believe students are missing out on some fantastic learning opportunities if this approach is consistently taken.

I think Web 2.0 is providing great tools for learning.  I also believe some of the tools are actually easier for teachers to implement in their courses.  The difficulty is keeping up with all the new technologies.  Actually, we really have not kept up.  In fact, it is almost impossible to do that.  But educators can take one tool, learn it, and implement.  Starting small is the the key and gradually adding on. 

Other opinions to add?  Please leave a comment.