I Teach Very Little…

It’s been a while since I made a contribution to the blogosphere. After taking August off to refresh and spend time connecting in other ways, I returned to the classroom for the first time in three years in September.  Then my dad passed away, so my first couple of weeks were befuddled.  But now we are back in the groove and transitioning from my previous position as a Technology Learning Mentor to a classroom teacher.

Being back to the classroom and working directly with kids has been tremendously exciting. I have landed in a great spot. While it’s officially called “Middle School Technology Education” or MSTE for short, I prefer to call it creativity class.

At Nashwaaksis Middle School, the “computer technology” program is quite a bit less structured than most classroom learning spaces, or even most computer labs. I was lucky to inherit this well developed, student-centered, module based program that promotes learner creativity and content creation. Two colleagues that understood that students really learn through producing authentic content, not by memorizing facts, have developed this program over the course of many years.

Learning to fly

Learning to fly

Our MSTE program is part of a larger PRA (Practical Related Arts), with other rotations including woodworking, art, music and guidance. I get each class for 8, 9 or 12 weeks. Students are able to choose one or two modules, walk themselves through the process of using a tool, design their own project and create content. With about a 50/50 mixture of Macs and PCs, they can choose from standards like video production, stop motion animation, digital photography and photoshop to less traditional modules like Lego robotics and flight simulation.

I haven’t done much with the program yet, preferring to sit for a couple of rotations and assess it’s strengths and weaknesses, but I have done one major shift. The modules used to be Intranet-based, available only within the school. They are now web based, accessible to students and the community, with a connection through the school website. It’s still a work in progress – some modules are not up yet – but I am a firm believer that the web offers us many opportunities to extend our classrooms to connect with students in a way they see as valuable.

There are two elements and ideas, however, which I already know I want to develop further. First off, one thing I found as a classroom teacher was that what students did in one room wasn’t transferred or connected to learning in another. I am looking at ways to encourage teachers to use MSTE time for applications to their classroom learning. Secondly, all the modules are currently centered on computer-based tools. I will be looking to develop and implement modules that use web-based tools (kids are already using them in class already).

It really is a great place to be. Many might say that I “teach” very little, and in the traditional sense I guess they are right, but that the kids are learning a lot.

Technorati tags: technology, education, whipple, learning

Image: Learning to Fly, Uploaded by Jeff Bauche._.·´¯)

8 thoughts on “I Teach Very Little…

  1. I always believed that technology should mix with education for the betterment of the students.

  2. I think what your doing is great ,your not only giving a cooler way of learning but also bringing more people together.

  3. I agree with this post. Schools teach from the book but if they can teach by using the technology that we use today, then the students might be more interested in the lesson at hand.

  4. i do think this true, as the internet grants large access to files around the world, allowing students to learn more outside the classroom then they ever could.

  5. i feel that technology is extremely vital to my everyday life. However, technology during school isn’t the best. I feel that the networking in my school is not the best, because it always down which means that i can’t learn things in my advance comp apps class and read interesting blogs like this, or print out a college essay or keep myself updated with my stressful college process. I feel that computers aren’t always negative to peoples’ lives and they do keep you informed with the world and everything around you. I think it’s amazing that you use technology in the classrooms!

  6. I find this very interesting on how you are using the web to show and teach your students how to use the web. I find it easier to use the web since there is so much on there. It is much easier to use the web and i find it fun because the kids will be more interested in the web rather than learning in a classroom taking notes.

  7. its pretty cool that you can teach kids a little bit but they learn a lot. kids need to have their minds opened more and challenged more. with computers you learn and challenge your self everyday. if kids can learn to challenge themselves then you can learn on such a higher level.

  8. I’m looking forward to learning more about your class through your posts here. I find it interesting that you have modules that students can choose from. We’ll have to talk about it sometime. I think they is a lot of good in being able to have a choice.

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