Sunday, 23 October 2011

Making a Change

We all want to make a change. As educators there are many changes that we can make. I believe one of the most important changes we can make is to change the way our students think. Teaching and encouraging students to be critical thinkers. Providing them with thought provoking questions and expecting thoughtful and creative answers.

Below is a video I was just shown to me at a session focusing greatly on appropriate education and creating success for all students.

This video resonated greatly with me as I am always looking for ways to engage all students and create positive learning experiences. While our educational system does not seem to moving toward some of the possibilities outlined here by Sir Ken Robinson, I couldn't help but thinking if I can within my own classroom.

One part of the video that stood out to me was how we are expecting students to focus when their lives are full of distraction. Yes, there are ways keeping student's attention by changing activities often, asking recurring questions, and even changing class duration. I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but I strongly believe the best, and maybe only, way to have students focus is to engage them in something that matters in their life. Something that is relevant. If students find value in an issue or topic their engagement will increase, and therefore they will be more focused.

Now, I often integrate technology into my classroom in a way that will engage each student, and offer choices when possible. This ensures each student can connect to what we are discussing or exploring and display their knowledge in a way that makes sense to them. This allows me to see what they are truly able of accomplishing. Using technology in classrooms, allowing students to explore things that matter to them, and encouraging them to think about the world they live in will, like Sir Ken Robinson said allow students to find themselves.

The most important thing for us to teach is and will always be the kids. Allow your students to become engrossed in topics or issues, and let them go to work. Be comfortable to get out of there way. The more versatile we are, as educators, the more engaged they are, as students, the more valuable learning will become... for everyone!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Technology and It's Issues

Recently, I had the opportunity to present at a teacher's conference for the first time. Over the past few years I have taken in many professional development sessions and it was an honor to be on the facilitating end.

One of the sessions I delivered was centered around podcasting and blogging in the Middle Years. I felt it went very well, with good discussion around the use of these technologies in classrooms. One hot point of discussion was the issues many teachers face when attempting to integrate ICT into their repertoires.

This session revolved around relevance, interactivity, and ownership, three aspects of education I ponder frequently here. As I may have stated before, I believe in order to make classroom activity interactive and relevant in 2011, and to give students full ownership of their accomplishments, work should be published in some form. This could be posted online or posted on a wall. When discussing this with the participants of my session we talked about students and/or parents who do not want their work published online, if real names should be used, and so on and so forth. From my experiences, when students see there work published on an avenue such as a class web site or a blog they take pride in their work and instantly want to improve their skills or knowledge. This, to me, is a positive experience made possible by ICT integration.

The advances in technology can be frightening, as there are a number of horror stories stemming from the irresponsible use of technology. I believe this is where the debates about policy and procedure in "the staff room" begins. Every school seems to have a different policy and uses different methods of combating these issues. Whether it is podcasting, blogging, social media, or cell phones, it is important for educators to take on a leadership role and teach the appropriate use of the 21st century tools and skills.

There seems to be a downloading of responsibility currently that ends upon the shoulders of educators. However, we shouldn't waste this opportunity. Give students the chance to use technology and teach them how to use it properly. Let them in on all the positive aspects technology can provide and allow them to become true 21st Century Learners.