Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Starting Late and Starting New

    I'm late to the tech party. I was somewhat of a skeptic of the big promises of tech 2.0.  For instance,  I used to think podcasts were silly. Who's listening to them? "What's the big deal? To me, it was akin to the proverbial tree falling in a forest.
    Flipping the classroom was something about which I was also skeptical. I saw its merits. But for me, it really came (and still comes) down to what was being flipped? If content was still about recall and regurgitation, it matters little to me if students did this at home or in school. "So, what's the big deal?" I thought.
    To be fully candid, I was never a tech Luddite. I saw utility in some aspects of technology. Since I've never thought that "coverage" was particularly important, the fact that knowledge was a click away strengthened to my response to people who suggested that kids need to "know" certain facts. Still, I've been teaching a long time. This is my 25th year teaching and it wasn't until these last three years that I've become a tech enthusiast.
   The most obvious catalyst is that my school went 1 to 1. Yet, I do not think I would have adopted technology as fully if I also wasn't in the midst of a mid-career change. For at the same time my school went 1-1, I started to teach elementary school after two decades of teaching mostly 8th graders. Brand new kids, brand new school, brand new age group, brand new discipline. I was starting from scratch. I didn't have years of good stuff to get rid of. We all have those lessons, those greatest hits, that we roll out every year. They were all gone. Tabula rasa, baby. Since I had no legacy lessons, I was truly able to start from scratch and rethink my approach.
    I have now moved to teaching high schoolers. In my department, we have worked on revamping a 15-year-old curriculum that is near and dear to its creators' hearts. It is so much harder to change! People care deeply about courses they've honed over years. This course and courses were created before technology really was ubiquitous in the classroom. I am beginning to wonder if we need to start afresh if we ever want to truly leverage tech in our classrooms. I am beginning to feel that tinkering around the edges of classes that were envisioned, created and structured prior to tech will never get us there.

Featured Post

Whoa. Amazing, amazing tools.

I've written quite a bit about using digital tools to enhance student reports, projects and publications. While an exciting visual...