Time to Change My Ways?
Bringing technology into the classroom presents many challenges for students, administrators, and teachers. No matter how much time teachers and administrators invest in planning before a tech roll-out of some new system, it seems that a greater amount of time is spent playing catch up. What do I mean by this? Well, from my personal experience it boils down to spending a lot of time thinking of ways to use something before school starts in August and then spending even more time once school starts adjusting that plan.
This readjustment typically comes from some aspect of the classroom experience or procedure not working quite the way I anticipated. In years past, this readjusting was contained to various lessons or activities and how they might need to change in order to be more effective. Thoughts like “This novel didn’t seem to grab the class’ attention the way I hoped. Maybe I should try a different one.” Or, “I don’t think I explained this concept as well as I anticipated. Maybe I need to present it differently.” Those types of thoughts are pretty normal for teachers–at least I think they are.
Now all my students have iPads and I find that other types of questions are popping up as I think about my classroom. Sure, I pretty quickly planned on going paperless before the school year began; but now, I am beginning to think more and more about HOW students learn in this new digital classroom. I am beginning to think more and more about HOW I need to adapt the way I teach in this new digital classroom.
For example, in my dual enrollment American Literature class today I was going through a PowerPoint presentation about Rationalism. I was going through this much the same way I have every year. Today, however, I was very conscious that there were only 4 or 5 students out of 21 taking notes as I went through the slides. I know not every student is going to take notes–even if they were writing them down on paper. But the number actively taking notes today seemed very low–especially for a college credit class.
I am pretty certain that when it comes time for a quiz or test, the notes those 4 or 5 students took today will find their way to everyone else in the class: All with the simple push of a button.
Where Old PowerPoints Go to Die
This has stuck with me all day. I have thought about note taking in our new iPad environment before today; but it usually centered on what app the students could use to take the notes, or what I could do to encourage them to take notes. Now I am starting to wonder if I should change the way I present new information to a class.
Now I am starting to wonder about the day when I have to introduce our next area of study in American Literature. When the day comes for me to introduce Romanticism, should I just break out the PowerPoint with all my nice slides listing characteristics? Or should I approach my class and students in a different way? Maybe I should just say “We are going to begin studying Romanticism in American Literature now. Go online and find the characteristics of Romanticism and share them with me and the class.” I could even say “Everyone in this row find the characteristics. Everyone in this row find the differences between American and European Romanticism. Everyone in that row find the American authors most commonly associated with Romanticism.” And so on and so forth.
Is it time for many of my PowerPoints to head off to the presentation graveyard? Is it time for me to make that move from being the “authoritative repository of information” in the classroom to an “information guide” for my students? I know I have a great deal more thinking to do on this particular subject. It will probably be one of those subjects I continually question. And that is one of the things we teachers are supposed to do.
How do you handle introducing new information to students?