Written by Coby Enteen
Our lives have changed drastically over the course of the last three of decades; job stability is slowly declining, manual labor is rapidly being taken over by machines, and the collective knowledge of the internet is becoming more valuable than the teacher and the textbook. Schools are largely finding it difficult to keep up with these challenges, often creating a learning void and failing to provide even the fundamental skills required for success in the constantly-evolving world. As educational paradigms shift, many new and existing pedagogies have been introduced into the classroom such as Project-Based Learning, Problem-Based Learning, Place-Based Learning, Computer-Based Learning, Discovery-Learning, Outdoor Education, Flipped-Classroom, Design-Thinking, E-Learning (which comes in different variations), Maker Spaces, and the list goes on. This begs the question; are any of these modern teaching methods gaining ground and are they being effectively adopted in a consistent manner in the classroom or are they being viewed as “Boutique” approaches to learning that are “nice to have.”
Although there is no definitive answer to this question, it has become fairly clear that the pendulum is slowly shifting in the direction of modern pedagogy, primarily out of necessity and as a grassroots understanding that classroom learning must change to meet the needs of the modern world. However, the flip side of the issue is that many school district administrators and educational policy makers continue to battle pedagogic modernization by promoting standardized testing and teacher accountability measures. This creates a resistance to change and most often results in more traditional frontal teaching and “test-prep” approaches. One observable effect is that many alternative schools have sprouted throughout the educational landscape, using modern instructional approaches as a trademark and method of differentiation from the competition. Some prime examples of this would be the Hi-Tech High model in San Diego and the Studio Schools model in the U.K.
While teachers are becoming increasingly aware of modern pedagogy and many have received pre-service and in-service training in these areas; they are often finding it difficult to sustain this type of teaching in the classroom on a regular basis. This can be largely attributed a number of factors including the absence of adequate support during the initial implementation phase, a lack of lesson preparation time and the focus on standardized testing. Moreover, modern instructional practices are many times introduced one after another, without a clear plan and concrete steps for integrating it into the curriculum. Thus, educators have become largely skeptical regarding the promise of modern pedagogy for classroom transformation and have begun to adopt the “boutique approach”, whereby new methods are used in conjunction with specific lessons and extracurricular assignments; never really becoming a teaching standard.
Great Google lesson plan site. All lessons incorporate Google tools/ You can search for lesson plans and curricula using the drop-down menus.
via Lesson Plan Search – Google in Education.
by Coby Enteen
Written by Coby Enteen
Edcanvas is a phenomenal web tool that allows teachers to create multimedia rich lessons and share them with their students. These lessons can include YouTube videos, slides, files, text, and images which you can download either from the web or use the ones you have in your computer. I am really pretty amazed with the ease of use of this platform and the user friendly interface it has. I have experimented with it in a high school setting and the results were amazing! It can even be used for higher-education and distance learning.
More about Edcanvas:
via Edcanvas Easily Create Rich Multimedia Lessons for your Class.
by Coby Enteen
Working with teacher and encouraging them to integrate technology is not always a simple task. Over the course of the past few months I have been leading an initiative integrating tablets into middle schools in an urban part of the country. Many of the teachers had never really used technology as part of their teaching and it was somewhat of a shock to wake up one day to a classroom in which all of the students had a tablet and all of the books had gone digital.
Overcoming the initial shock was was not easy. At first teachers tried to bypass the use of the digital textbooks by photocopying materials from workbooks and blaming the disuse on technical problems that they were experiencing. Through a great deal of coaching, guidance, ongoing hands-on training and lots of encouragement I was able to help them to change their ways.
The training sessions focus on new learning new applications and modeling effective teaching and learning with the tablet. It is then the responsibility of the teacher to transfer the skills acquired during the professional development into the classroom setting. Most are hesitant at first, but are able to with the added support of the instructional coach.
An important dimension of the professional development is the ability to provide teachers with a clear and consistent method of instruction. Once the method is in place, it is much easier for teachers to fit the content into a specific structure, at which point they begin to think more constructively and incorporate the ‘out of the box’ thinking mentality.
We have a long way to go before all of the teachers are utilizing the tablets to full capacity, but we have definitely gained some valuable ground.
Project-based learning is one of the most popular terms in education innovation today. We talk about PBL all the time and how it, combined with flipped classrooms, can basically change the way education works. It’s an exciting time to be sure.
via An Inside Look At How Project-Based Learning Actually Works | Edudemic.
Marc Prensky has written a number of books about the integration of technology and education. In his latest, Brain Gain: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom, he argues that technology can be used to enhance the human brain and improve the way people process information.
via Education Week: Q&A: Quest for ‘Digital Wisdom’ Hinges on Brains and Machines.