Old Dog Learning new tricks
Type of technology: Varied
SAMR Model Rating: Substitution
Grade level: All grade levels
Subject area: All subjects
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I have been teaching for twenty years but I am willing to dive in headfirst to the new teaching environment of technology. You must realize I was a product of a different teaching philosophy and strategy; paper and pencils and textbooks were the the main ingredients for The “Sage on the Stage” era of teaching. My experience with computers was limited to reading emails and searching YouTube for guitar lessons and music videos. But this year I volunteered to be the Tech Integrator at our small Continuation High School because I want to be a better teacher and utilize our iPads and other technology to prepare our students for the challenges they may face in the future. Our school has a 1:1 iPad program so each of our teachers and students has an iPad.
One of the first things that I noticed is that although the students are very good at navigating through cyberspace, my students are not very adept at finding credible evidence to support their answers; most simply Google the question and write the first thing they see. But we are all learning that we have the world at our fingertips and with careful analysis we can sort through the clutter and find really interesting, academic, and truthful answers.
I like to begin each class with a warm up question that connects students with prior knowledge, backgrounds, life experiences, or interests and have them respond in writing. I am working on learning how to have them respond on their iPads and send it to me. Eventually I plan on having a paperless class and every student will publish their answers. The students share their responses with the class and we have a group discussion. I always find a relevant and interesting video to show them and they answer questions and take notes. We then transition to the textbook, read and answer questions from the book because I still feel it is very important that they read, write, think, discuss in small groups or as a class every day.
Teaching students at a Continuation High School is full of challenges. Those of you who are familiar with continuation schools know what I am talking about. If you are unfamiliar with our set up, then think of it this way: in one or two of your classes at a regular high school you may have a student who is particularly challenging. They may be acting out because of a tough home life, drugs, alcohol, gangs or other reasons. Now imagine a school full of these students. Every class consists of students with some or all of these issues. Could you teach them? I can and I do. This career choice is never boring or routine, it is full of uplifting stories, heartbreak, success and setbacks but we are a school with teachers who care. I will continue to teach and help these students prepare for the future. When I finally become tech-savvy I will share some of their work with you. So far I am really enjoying trying new tech ideas in my classroom and I think my students appreciate that I am also a life-long learner.