Does technology have a role in classroom instruction? I believe so. Let’s look at some “trainable teaching” digital learning strategies that are being implemented in K-12 classrooms today.
Decades ago, when I attended high school math class, the teacher stood at the front of the class and presented the day’s topic and quickly got into the detail. Being an average student, I frequently daydreamed for a remote control to pause the teacher so I could wrap my mind around the new concept and ask questions. Which, I would not dare do for fear of looking dumb to fellow students.
Then, the period ends, and the teacher gave class assignments to do at home. My parents were not experts on the topic, which made homework even more difficult. I am lost and have to figure it out on my own. The average student has been there!
Fast forward today. A high school teacher is taking an innovative approach to lesson delivery that offers “creative” thinking for education organizations of every kind. Her instructional strategy is called Flipping. Instead of lecturing about solving equations or unit conversions during classroom time – then giving homework for out of class work. This teacher flipped the sequence. She digitally records (audio / visually) her instructional lectures on a mobile device and uploads the videos to YouTube for her 33 students (from various
cultural backgrounds) to watch at home or non-class seat time. The next day in class, she personally works with students as they solve problems and experiment with concepts. To assist in time management, she also asks her students who understood the concept to help other students who didn’t during class time. Interactive lectures at night… “homework” during the day. The idea behind the videos… students watch lectures out of class at their own pace, pause it, replay it, and review it as much as required to learn a concept. Class time is used for students that need additional help learning a topic. This seems so natural in a modern world. The result… her class student engagement and achievement scores significantly increased since implementing this student-focused approach.
I also learned that middle school teachers in Palo Alto California are doing a similar innovative approach using pre-produced interactive instructional videos from Khan Academy.org website for homework lectures. These teachers are enjoying pleasing student engagement and academic achievement results.
The power of flipping! These are trainable teaching strategies for a 21st century schooling environment.
Using an iPod Touch for art class. Last year, I had a digital “ah-ha” moment while observing a 5th grade teacher in Gig Harbor Washington use iPod Touches to teach a virtual lesson on blending colors. The teacher set-up the lesson by having students do a Wiki search on the artist Van Gough. Then he had the students select a Van Gough painting they liked and asked them to explain why they enjoyed the painting. Then he asked his students to load a color chart -app that virtually enabled students to see and blend various colors using the iPod touch screen. The students excitedly engaged themselves into creating color combinations. As they did, the teacher, roaming around the classroom, would introduce and explain art vocabulary terms such as primary and tertiary colors. Then, he invited a student to show their iPod produced color blends in front of the entire class using the teacher station document camera. I thought, wow, how much more engaging this instructional art activity was versus a tradition class. Additionally, I could not help but imagine what a tradition 5th grade art class would look like after blending real paints. Imagine the clean up and the cost to replicate the activity for each new class. Now… a thing in the past!
The power of the iPod Touch for virtual learning! This is trainable teaching strategy for a 21st century schooling environment.
Integrating smart / cell phone devices into class lessons. An Arizona high school Social Studies teacher uses wireless mobile devices to enable students to research, explore, compare and contrast a multitude of different topics for a city of interest on demand. The teacher leads his class through an activity which students study various characteristics of their own community using Google Earth and Maps. In class, the teacher engages students to find different aspects about their schools community including population, weather, businesses, parks, museums, and so on. Then, he brainstorms with his students on what other types of information and things would be interesting to look up on their community. After this introduction, students begin to collaboratively research using Google tools on their mobile devices to gather information. After this learning activity, the teacher asks students to research and explore another community that has the same characteristics. Then compare the their findings into a brief summery from a Note Pad app on their phone to present to the entire class. Students are learning higher order thinking skills as well as 21st century literacies. Not to mention cell phones can be used for much more than just texting, talking and entertainment tools – in and outside of class.
Teachers around the world are using smart phones for quizzes, class polling and surveys as an “on-demand” assessment tool across every subject. Tied to “state-of-the-art” Student Information System, these digital tools can track individual student and class academic achievement in real-time. School administrator statistical data collection is made easier.
The power of mobile phones for instruction! These examples are trainable teaching strategy for a 21st century schooling environment.
Creative thinking will extend quality-learning experiences to students globally. Funding for new opportunities for advanced teaching workshops should be made available to teachers. This can be accomplished via trainable teaching moments through a series of digital-based learning professional development workshops that provide teachers with the knowledge, skills and the confident to become 21st century teachers.
By Lee Stewart