What's new for me is having students with computers available at all times. New as of this school year. I'm still trying to figure it out. Gone are the days of checking out the chromebook cart. There are no more trips down to the computer lab. It's lovely. And intimidating. Now that my students have the tech, I feel obligated to use it.
My questions are how much, how often, and do do what?
To try and find out, I attended ISTE 2016 in Denver. For those of you who don't know, ISTE is a huge (picture The Donald saying it) educational technology conference. Think big conference, now think bigger. 16,000 people.
At ISTE, I attended a session called "Blended Learning Classrooms: Pedagogies, Skills and Tools for Teaching - ISTE 2016". The panel session had some rock stars of ed tech and was moderated by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher. Here was the panel: Thomas Arnett @arnettTom, Jon Bergmann @jonbergmann, Mike Gwaltney @mikegwatlney, Aaron Sams @chemicalsams, Stephane Sandifer @ssandifer, and Jerry Overmyer @jerryovermyer.
They talked about all sorts of things:
-Videos are only a piece of the flipped classroom.
-The goal is to create an active classroom by removing all direct instruction from the classroom.
-Going blended classroom is not about the tech. It’s about changing a culture.
-No tech for tech’s sake.
-Why do you want to go 1 to 1? We want to transform the learning experience.
-Don’t just digitize content. Transform what happening in the classroom.
-Redefining how vs what to teach.
--Who has the power in the relationship? Let go of control. Students need to have a say in what’s going on in school.
I found the conversation on individual spaces vs group spaces fascinating:
-The individual space
-is now where you get instruction
-there is still a place for direct instruction
-at student pace
-students get individualized instruction
-The group space
This all sounds great doesn't it? Here's my push-back--How does this improve what I'm already doing in the classroom? How does this increase relationship with my students? How does this increase student engagement? How does this help my students think deeply about the math?
We don't often have lectures in my class. We intro a new topic by talking about what we notice. We make conjectures about how things might behave. We do experiments and try to create math models to predict what will happen next. We talk about each others' work and reflect on how we could do things better.
How are videos going to help me do that? How are Google Forms or Slides going to help me do that? How is a Learning Management System (LMS) like Google Classroom or Schoology or Moodle going to help me do that better? If I'm already pushing my classes towards inquiry-based learning, rich tasks, experiments and classroom discussions, do I need to make videos? Do I need to shift content online? Is students handing in electronic work that I need to grade better than them handing me a paper? Everything I'm hearing in Ed Tech over the last 5 years seems to say 'yes'.
I've not found a compelling answer to those questions. If you're a math teacher who is rocking out the tech, I'd love to chat with you about how the day-in day-out tech use of your class works. Seriously. Please.
This year we got a new curriculum complete with all the online bells and whistles. I started using some of the online quizzes that auto grade student work. My students hated them. No joke. They begged me to go back to paper and pencil where they feel like they can show me what they know without a computer getting in the way. I didn't expect that.
You know what I really want? I want to shake this guilty feeling that there's a better way to do this teaching gig.