Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Technology is Making Me a Better Teacher

While reading David Title's blog Gravity and Levity I came to a startling revelation. I realized that what I am learning from teaching tech use in my classroom is bleeding over into my non-tech teaching.

Students come to me with many schooly skills. They can find answers and fill in the blanks on worksheets. They can (usually) answer questions using key words from those questions. They can copy notes off the board. These are lessons students learn early in schools.

Each year I have new students that need to learn how to post blog posts, create Power Points, and similar things using computers. I have begun to realize that these skills actually don't need to be taught, they can be learned by allowing the students time to explore and create. Instead of focusing on teaching them how to use the tools, I am teaching them when and how it is appropriate to use the tools. Then I ask them to reflect on their learning. I have come to realize I should be doing this all the time.

For years I have taught students to take notes by copying them off the board. Actually, I wasn't teaching them to do anything except how to copy words. This year I focused on teaching how to take notes. I am evaluating their note-taking skills when I observe what type of notes they are taking and if the notes are helping the students learn the material. After testing I ask the students about their note-taking and if their assessment scores were improved by the notes. I want them to learn the skill that allows them to be successful regardless of the content.

To sum up, students need little help to learn the tools, but they need our guidance and practice to use them in a way beneficial to their learning. Technology taught me this.

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