Thursday, November 22, 2012

Talking about technology - part 2

Several weeks ago I blogged about how one of my roles as tech coordinator has been to talk with teachers about the NETS-T standards.  As a result of these conversations I've decided to write a series of posts about how teachers can develop their own skills to support these standards.  This post will be about the discussions we have had about how to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity.

The first standard in this strand is to promote, support and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness. One way that teachers can encourage a constructivist learning environment in their classrooms is to provide what has been described as "crystallizing experiences" which can be turning points in the development of a child's abilities, interests and talents.  These experiences could be things like field trips, visiting guest speakers - or in the absence of these teachers could use technology to conduct virtual field trips or skype calls with experts.  For example students could use Google Maps or Google Earth to explore a place that would not be possible to explore in any other way.  Skype can bring in experts such as authors or poets to the classroom.

The second standard is to engage students in exploring real-world issues and solve authentic problems using digital tools and resources.  Project-based learning can really support this standard, encouraging students to explore and help solve problems.  Technology can play a role in identifying such problems, for example teachers could use online news sites, email, blogs, social networks and so on for information about current events.  Using Google search tools, students can access and translate news stories from different online newspapers, so getting multiple perspectives on world issues.  While it is not possible for students to actually solve these problems, games based learning and simulations in virtual worlds around these issues can certainly give students experience in decision making and encourage higher-level thinking skills.  Students can use presentation tools to share their solutions and get authentic feedback.

The third standard is to promote student reflection using collaborative tools.  There are many digital tools that can help students reflect on their learning - some of the best tools for reflection that I've used with students have been blogs and microblogs.  Students are often really motivated to post their reflections when they know that others will respond to them.  Currently we have Kindergarten classes sharing their reflections on their current unit of inquiry using VoiceThread and 3rd Grade students using Edmodo.  Wikis are another tool that I've used successfully for reflection, with students collaborating on providing and editing content and getting involved in discussion forums.

The final standard involves teachers modeling collaborative knowledge construction.  Teachers need to model that they too are lifelong learners and that they can learn from others.  Successful ways I've seen of doing this have included teachers setting up class blogs where everyone can post and reflect.

Although at the start of some of these conversations I've heard teachers say that they can inspire students without using technology, after our discussions many teachers come to see that technology can be an important doorway into facilitating learning and creativity.

Photo Credit:  Franci plays maze by Franco Cavallotto, 2007  AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works

1 comment:

  1. I've already read out part 1 and was pleased to read that and now got another chance to read its another part. Your allocation about technology seems to me sound informative to know some vital and new points of technology. Thanks dude :)