Sunday, August 14, 2016

Preparing Teachers for 21st Century Teaching

I just posted a yearlong ABC Research Book project on my TPT.
This is a yearlong project that I taught to my 7th graders six years ago in Nebraska.  I liked the idea of giving choice and scaffolding the writing throughout the year instead of a one quarter 10 page research paper that many students plagiarized to get through. The lesson I posted is revamped for 2016, not 2010, yet it's still for the more traditional classroom. I know that is where most teachers still live. I get it, change can be scary.  This can be for a classroom that is full of tech, or no tech.

For my iPad classroom I would like to set this project up on individual blogs. The students could add labels to their assignments each week in order for me to easily find them and grade them.  Right now, we were told to put blogs on hold until our tech coordinator could get everything set up with state and federal laws such as FERPA and other acronyms I can't remember. This means I'll start the students out with Google Docs for the assignments. When we get the blog up we can copy and paste.

When we get held up by tech laws or issues, I always think about how simple it is to run a non-tech class.  You have a book, paper, pencil and sometimes a computer lab.  But, that's never been my teaching goal.  I've always wanted to be the teacher who prepares students for real world technology. What I'm realizing is that many teachers are not prepared to teach students real world technology themselves.

I have a student teacher this year.  She is very excited about teaching an iPad class.  Over these first few weeks she has been introduced to Schoology, Google Docs, Slides, Forms, and QR codes.  She said she now can't imagine not teaching from a tablet with the ability to move around the classroom.  We started talking about her courses.  I asked her, what technology has your program prepared you to use in your teaching.  Her answer was overhead projectors, smart boards, PowerPoint.

Why are we teaching new teachers to use old tools?

I am very interested and would love to see an #edchat or comments about this.  How can schools move forward with technology when they might only have a handful of teachers on staff willing to embrace it?

My student teacher mentioned an assignment where they had to create a lesson and present it to their class.  She said they worked in partners. They could use any of the technology in the classroom.  Her and her partner chose to use the overhead projector.  My question is, why?  In the twelve years that I have been teaching, I think I have used one maybe ten times.  My first classroom was equipped with a Smartboard during my first year of teaching. I haven't had an overhead since then.  That was over a decade ago! Seriously, let's burn those bulbs out, and get rid of overhead projectors, FAST!

Then, there's the Smartboard.  I will totally admit when I first got mine. I loved it.  It projected everything on my computer. I could take a screen shot of the notes we went over in class.  I could make each day's presentation on a Smartdeck, and I could add in interactive things such as moving or disappearing shapes and games. I had novel study games where you threw a koosh ball at the board to select a review question.  However, I have realized in the past few years with my iPad and Apple TV that having an interactive whiteboard is great, but you are limited to the front of the classroom, and there is only one front of the classroom.

My current iPad classroom has a projector on a card with an Apple TV. I can point this cart at any wall.  I switch it up pretty often by just swinging the cart to a different wall, and I can moved all around my classroom as I teach. I can have students take over the Apple TV with their iPads to show a video, presentation, or just an example of the work they're doing.  I'm not worried that the students are playing games while I'm teaching because I don't have to face them from the board anymore.

Schools might say that an iPad classroom with Apple TVs is not in the budget. This technology could be done with a Chromecast for a fraction of the price of an Apple TV.  My school has several Chromebook carts for the non iPad teachers. I often think of how my daily lessons are on Google Slides.  Anyone running a Google Classroom could easily project from a Chromebook or a Galaxy tablet for a fraction of the price of an iPad classroom.

This brings up the final technology that my student teacher mentioned, PowerPoint.  I know that Google Slides is very similar to PowerPoint, so I'm not saying don't make slide shows.  What I am saying is, why are we still using save to a hard drive static technology when we live in a cloud based world?  I don't know how many times I have heard people say, "So, do I have to send you the updated copy now?" when we are on a Google Doc.  No, you don't have to, it's already updated for all of us. You don't even have to push a save button.  It did that already, instantly.  My student teacher is so funny.  She called it "Nifty" because she could share a Slides presentation with me, and I was able to edit and update instantly.  Shouldn't something this simple be standard practice for all college students by now?  I would have killed to have this technology in 2001 when the computer lab literally shut down as I was typing up an eight page final for a class and hadn't pressed save in over an hour.

Google isn't the only program working from the cloud now. Microsoft is pushing their Office 365 cloud based technology to districts in town.  In my opinion, right now, it's not as seamless as the Google products, but it's a step in the right direction for districts that haven't gone Google yet.

I have had the opportunity to attend two GAFE (Google Apps for Education) summits in the past year, ISTE 2016, a PBS leadership summit, and I presented at GAFE last month.  I'm in my twelfth year of teaching, and I'm realizing I am more prepared to teach 21st century learners than many of the new college graduates.  Why is that? Or, am I wrong?  To be fair, I am only basing this on the one program I have seen here in Colorado Springs. What else is happening at colleges around the country?

Let me know. I truly am interested!
As always, thank you for reading!

English Middle School Mania

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