Skip to main content

Tech is not the be-all and end-all

Although I said I'd blog every day in November, I meant "school days" and didn't intend to blog on the weekend. But I had a few minutes between tasks and was browsing Twitter and came across Draper's post:
It’s (still) not OK for teachers to remain digitally illiterate. Here’s why…
Now, for starters, I encourage any and all teachers to aim towards integrating technology into their classrooms in a meaningful and appropriate to their task way. I'm a tech guy.  I enjoy experimenting, and failing, with technology in my classroom as we push against physical & virtual pedagogical boundaries.
However, I decline to agree that a teacher who does not integrate technology into their classroom is in any way neglecting the best interests of the student so long as the teacher is focusing on critical thinking and social & emotional learning (and their subject matter), and is, in their own way experimenting with their craft.  That latter part is important -- if they are only doing what they did last year, and not responding to student learning needs, then yes, they need a wake-up call.  But the other end of the phone may not be technology -- it may be professional work on classroom management, discussion, questioning, assessment & feedback, etc.
Why do I not make it a seemingly moral obligation to demand technology use from teachers?
Because of transfer. If you earnestly teach a student to be critical thinkers in any context, then that (should) help them be critical in other areas.  And if you don't agree with that, then how can you justify them using tech tools (smartphones, say) when the technology of their tomorrow will be augmented & virtual reality, holograms, directly-beamed-into-head-images (who knows?)... will their digital-critical-thinking skills necessarily transfer between digital realms any more effectively?  Put in their core the ability to question & reason in any space.
The same argument can be made for misbehaviour.  Technology doesn't create the misbehaviour; it accelerates what was already there.  So if you work on students' empathy and understanding, conflict resolution and bullying (management?  I'm not sure the right word) then when they return to their digital spaces (either after school, or in their next class) they have internalized personal approaches to human (and digital) interactions.
Focus on good teaching. Focus on making learning visible. Focus on social & emotional learning. If a teacher experiments with technology, that's great! But don't imply any less professionalism for a teacher who is focusing good teaching in a non-technological environment.

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Escape Room / BreakOut in OneNote

[[Part 2 of this article is here: Link]]

So when I was visiting Anna in Edinburgh during March Break, she showed me how she used Password-Protected OneNote sections within the OneNote ClassNotebook to help students check their work -- she set the password to the correct answer, so they knew they had it right when the Section opened up.

I figured I could use this for Math Review, so I set aside a couple of hours (turned out to be 3 hours but a fair chunk of that was solution-time) the other night to put an Exam Review together for my Grade 10 Mathematics course.  I pulled together as many multiple choice questions and short answer questions on the topics as I could Google and tried to balance each Section with a mix of topics and then threw in a couple of pop-culture questions, too.  The students worked on the problems in each section and used the answers as passwords to unlock the next section until they got to the Prize section.
Result?  Near total continual engagement for the 60 min…

Desmos, OneNote & Replay

So using Desmos activities are a great way to encourage exploration and discussion in math class -- if you haven't tried them, I encourage it.  They're collected at 

But ... Desmos doesn't give you quite enough.  It doesn't have a way of capturing the work that the student does within their space, and it doesn't allow for annotation of class contributions as we come together to discuss.  Well, not surprisingly, OneNote comes to the rescue. 
Using the Windows shortcut Windows-Shift-S it is really quick to snag the Desmos screen and pop it into a waiting OneNote page.  From there, we can grab our pen and (using wireless projection) talk about what all the different responses mean and where to go from there.
(An aside : one of the nice features of Desmos activities are the way you can hit PAUSE and it will pause all the screens of the students working.  I always give them a heads up "10 seconds to pause..." and it's refreshing…

Teacher Professional Development and Microsoft OneNote

During the first three weeks of July, I have the amazing opportunity to work at the Park City Mathematics Institute.  It is, without exaggeration, the best professional development opportunity for teachers of mathematics.  Participants spend three weeks thinking deeply about mathematics and mathematics education.

There are three main aspects of PCMI:

learning mathematicsreflection on practice (RoP)becoming a resource to others.I'm part of the team for RoP and in charge of the third aspect, in which participants consider a gap in professional development back at their home districts and work in small groups to help fill that hole by developing a rich PD seminar on that topic.

It is not easy to develop professional development.  Teachers who haven't written PD have to patiently learn how to write (essentially) lesson plans for someone else.

This year, I used Microsoft OneNote to facilitate the process.  We have a central OneNote Notebook through which I lay out the daily schedule…