As I have been exploring the use of technology to create more effective classroom environments, I have noticed a stark dichotomy in my teaching experience. One the one hand, I have facilitated dozens of independent study projects my gifted enrichment students. These projects were heavily dependent on using technology to gather, organize, and present data. On the other hand, I generally taught Algebra and Geometry with almost no use of digital technology. We did a lot of hands on projects with manipulates, measurement tools, etc., but the laptops stayed safely in the cart during math.
basically, I am comfortable with using technology to teach a process
(project planning, research, organization, etc.), but I don't instinctively use it to
Why is that?
The thing is, I am a pretty good teacher. I structure my planning to
allow for a lot of exploration activities and real world applications. I
am steadily increasing the amount of structured reflective activities
that I use for myself and my students. I always assume that I can
improve the lesson, or dig deeper, or make assessment more authentic and
meaningful. I believe very strongly that students can and should
self-select topics of interest to explore at a rigorous level. My entire
enrichment program is predicated on that model, and it is commonly
accepted as a best practice for working with gifted and high ability
And with all that, I am still operating from the
framework of traditional instructional models. Teacher. Students.
Textbook. Classroom. Even if I am really good within that model, and I
can envision spending the rest of my career getting better and more
innovative, there are still inherent limits. I am still driving the car,
even if I know when to speed up and slow down and go the scenic route,
everything has to filter through me.
I am the one that is in the way...but I am still the one that has to lead to way too.
need to change my mental model. But along the way, I will need to
address the mental models of my students, my parents, my administration.
Not everyone is going to think it is a good idea (even the students).
Why rock the boat if everyone is "getting A's?" That is not an
irrelevant question, and each stakeholder group wants a slightly
different version of the same answer...because it is worth it to provide
a meaningful and appropriately challenging education.
this also demonstrates to me the need for a strong professional learning
community. I need to see, concretely and in detail, how others are
implementing similar ideas, how well it is working, and how people are
responding. The more that I explore the digital options that are
available, and the
vibrant community of teachers that are using them in the classrooms
(including math!), the more I am forced to accept the fact Web 2.0
applications are the means to the end for both myself and my students.