A Revolution

There’s a revolution under way in education.  Some teachers, and schools, are oblivious to it at present, in other places it seems to trickle in through the cracks.  However, other teachers have fully embraced, even welcomed, the revolution in education that technology makes possible.  I am one of these teachers.

In the past, I’ve used technology as an add on, attaching it here or there where it fits.  I realize I can no longer do this.  Consequently, I’ve thrown everything out.  To some people, this may seem extreme.  Trust me, it ‘s not.  I’m not the type to create extra work for myself, considering I have so little extra time that I would consider spare.

I also know that I won’t permanently get rid of everything that I currently do.  Instead, I’m going through the process of evaluating and sorting everything I do.   Why do I teach it this way? What is the purpose of this particular exam or assignment? Is there a better way that teaches my students the skills they need to find this information themselves?

The realization  that content and information is ubiquitous, and I no longer have to be the all-knowing guru of the subjects that I teach, is freeing.  Instead, I can focus on teaching kids the skills they need to find authentic, reputable information and resources and to critically evaluate it.  This is something I’ve wanted to do, and yet, have feared doing.

First, there is the cognitive dissonance between what currently is and what it will become, not only for me, but for my students too.  What will my administration say to this change, or other teachers, especially if my classroom looks and functions differently than every other classroom in the school?  And my students, will they not wonder why I’m no longer giving them the information, and, instead, requiring them to do “my” job, by teaching them how to learn?

Second, there is the learning curve that this requires.  However, I’m not afraid of things I do not know.  Instead, the thing that gives me hope is that in 3 weeks, or 3 months, I will not be where I am today.  And a year from now, my class will likely look completely different. I have been inspired by the breadth of ways that Zoe Branigan-Pipe uses technology in her classes.  However, the thing that has inspired me more, is this video by Michael Wesch.  I am excited to bring an experience like this to my students, which is my project this semester.

I plan to prepare my students for the reality that is already here.  We cannot continue to have classrooms that look the same as they did fifty years ago and tell ourselves that we’re preparing our students effectively.  If we believe this lie, it is our students who will pay the consequences.

photo courtesy of Creative Commons – Tony Hall

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About shelleywright

I love education & learning, which likely explains why I'm a teacher. My areas are ELA, Sr. sciences, and technology. My classroom is best described as a student-centred, tech embedded pbl/inquiry learning environment. I am currently a PhD student in the area of Curriculum and Instruction. My focus is play-based learning in high school, and it's impact on brain development.
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7 Responses to A Revolution

  1. Lisa M Lane says:

    In many ways, I think your own excitement about the journey is beneficial to your students. I have begun thinking that the very concepts of freedom and exploration are motivating, and if the teacher is modeling them, students will get excited.

    I feel badly bringing in a practical question, but how will you grade their work? This is a serious question to me. One of my biggest concerns is setting up the kind of thing you’re doing and having some students not do the work or do it badly. In that kind of open and exciting environment, having to give out a low grade would be even more depressing than it already is.

    • Thanks, Lisa. I think your point is an important one. I have thought a lot about assessment. And at this point I’m not sure what it’s going to look like. This is one of the areas where there is going to be a huge learning curve.

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  3. I view your process as a form of reflective action research. You are taking an inventory of all you do, and deciding what stays, what goes, what is valuable, and what can use some improvement. This is such a powerful process. I try to do this with every class I teach and find that it usually re-energizes and motivates my teaching. When I start to feel overwhelmed with creating new or refined lessons, I ask this critical question. What am I doing that my students could be doing? How can I put more of the responsibility for this lesson on them? Sometimes, I even get them involved in that part of the process. They usually think of innovative ways to contribute to the learning process that haven’t even crossed my mind. Assessment is a challenge. But, as long as the students are synthesizing and creating, there should be an artifact on which to build a grade or feedback. Good luck to you!

  4. I am going to bookmark this post and when I get back into the classroom revisit it and be inspired. thanks for the inspiration shelley

  5. byrnesa says:

    Thank you for this post Shelley. Although I have not thrown everything out, I don’t have the courage for that yet, I am very carefully watching what I do and how it works or doesn’t work. At the same time, I’m asking myself, why did I do it this way and how would technology change or enhance the learning of my students? I think even starting with those questions and reflecting on our teaching practices will be better for ourselves and our students. I too look forward to seeing what my classroom looks like a year from now. I am glad that you are excited and I am glad that we are taking this journey together as classmates! :)

  6. Gayle Yodowitz says:

    It’s December, and I came across your blog via the Thoughts from a EdTech blog and twitter acct.! My response is to this blog and the one titled “Loss”. I have “suffered” through some of the same emotions as help my students learn “how to learn”, and be more metacognitive (think about their thinking). One of my own quotes that explains my willingness to be part of this teaching revolution, as you call it, is “I am not afraid of how deep the water is because I know how to swim.” Any teacher who has had success in their profession working with students has the ability to become a “think out of the box” teacher, but that won’t happen large scale if the fear factor constantly blocks the way. Come on, everyone. Jump in! You all know how to swim!

    Regarding the assessment piece- it is a process, but I have developed/found rubrics, checklists and summarization strategies that help me with formative and summative assessments. I am also a huge fan of Thinking Maps. They are like graphic organizers, but there are only 8, and the type of thinking informs which map will be used. I have been extensively trained to use these, but if you are motivated go to check them out a thinkingmaps.org or just google “thinking maps’. If you are bound by state exams, like the NYS Regents, you may have to still give some quizzes and tests to check for benchmark knowledge. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts, and look forward to more exciting and motivating conversations!

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