Saturday, January 23, 2010

Don't Be a High Tech Sage on the Stage

Tech-tools like interactive whiteboards and student responders have tremendous potential in education, but it's tempting to lull oneself into thinking that merelyimplementing a tech-tool will automatically cause students be engaged. There is a danger here. I'm afraid some teachers abuse the technology by just creating more stuff for kids to look at without making their lessons any more interactive or engaging than they were before. The last thing teachers need is another gadget that supports the old sage-on-the-stage paradigm. So, when implementing technology tools in your classroom, try to involve as many students as possible with "hands-on" learning experiences. Here are a couple ideas along those lines:
Put the interactive in interactive white board. A lesson is not interactive just because you hide a giant paragraph behind a reveal tool, then make the students copy the paragraph into their notes. Similarly, it's not interactive just because a student can come up to the whiteboard, tap the screen, and reveal a bunch of text that they, again, just have to copy into their notes. Interactive means there is an exchange of ideas - a back-and-forth interaction among people, activities, and ideas. Try engaging students by setting up text to underline or highlight. Have your students move text and images into categories; match words with their definitions; manipulate graphic organizers. Design lessons that are so hands-on, you find yourself talking less, and observe students doing more during your lesson.
Use responders so your students receive the right immediate feedback. It is useless for students to simply know their score on their math test. They need to know precicely the items they got wrong and be given time to reflect and fix their own understanding. Your test was a colossal waste of time if your students go home without this vital information. Go for the teachable moment! Do it right away - right after the test. At our school, our student responders tie into an application called AccelTest. This software allows teachers to print test results for each student. For example, in my room, I give two forms of the math chapter test, one day apart. The first day, they take Form A, and I immediately print out the results. Students get the help they need on the items they missed, and practice similar items for homework. The second day, they take Form B. As you might imagine, Form B results are almost always higher; therefore, I record the higher of the two grades. Instant feedback is key!
So, don't just be a high-tech sage-on-the-stage. Design lessons that are as interactive and engaging as possible and provide assessment feedback that goes beyond mere scores.

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