Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our Scholars should be Producers NOT just Consumers

When schools stop being consumers of technology and begin becoming more producer oriented, then technology use in our schools will be more effective. The news from the recent PBS survey about Technology use in schools provides good news and bad news. The good news is that 76% of the K-12 teachers are using it in their classes as consumers of information. The bad news is that there isn't a survey about how many of these teachers and students are producers in their classrooms. If we had more producers using technology then we would begin to see better use of technology and eventually better ways of assessing our scholars by having their work to view in the form of webfolios or digitized portfolios. Students need to use more technologies like webpages, blogs, wikis and the like to publish their work as producers and publishers. We all know about the power and the press, so why not use this power for our scholars and have them publish their work.

We know we learn better by doing. We know if we teach someone to fish, rather than give them a fish, they will eat for a lifetime. The same holds true in the classroom with technology. Having scholars surf the web and produce just a word processing or presentation product, is not really using the technology. They are still consumers and haven't really shown they can do as producers. Reading poetry without writing a poem is an incomplete process in the study of poetry. I like for my scholars to produce webpages, design them, decorate them, make them theirs and to publish their essays to them and on the internet to become producers. In art class we study the masters then we attempt to copy them or use their influence to produce something and then it is hung on a wall. We need to do this in all of our classes so our scholars become producers and when that happens they will use those successes to conquer any new task ahead of them. They will gain superb problem solving skills, collaborative skills, and confidence in themselves that no state test will ever provide. In addition, future teachers will have something sound to review as these scholars enter their classrooms.

Using video to record the work of the scholars especially in the area of drama is popular and easy. For example, Shakespeare is very popular. Publishing their work on the Internet isn't really a new concept of publishing student work, just a different venue. Walk into any school we see student work on the walls of the corridors and on the walls of the classrooms. How much of that work is read? By publishing to the web, the second tenet of scholarship can be done, peer review. The that peer reviewed published work becomes a resource for another scholar.

"Technology will never replace a good teacher" was how a very interesting article began. This is a debatable point, but not now. The key points in the article are that Ohio is looking at improving tech use in the classroom over the next five years. Some of the tech mentioned were podcasting, social networking, and cell phones. This is a great start. They further admit they aren't sure what tech to use and how, but are open to innovative ways to incorporate the tech in the classes. CyberEnglish has been successful for many years as seen in the work of lots of English teachers across the country. I'd suggest a close examination of it for ideas about how to publish the scholar's work and to incorporate technology in an innovative way in all subject areas. A pilot program in New Jersey looks promising.

"Some advocates of education technology have responded to the researchers’ report with skepticism, arguing that anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise." In a recent research report "According to the researchers, if there is no evidence that teaching to different learning styles works, school funds that support learning style assessments and teaching tools should be diverted to support evidence-based teaching practices instead." Those of us who work with technology have all the evidence we need and can demonstrate it. The problem has been that researchers don't know how to report on these situations with their math rubrics. The abstract eludes them and so we don't have good research but we do have lots of anedotal evidence from teachers, students, and parents. Just because we can't quantify it doesn't mean it isn't real. The simplest of tasks would be to walk into a class without the tech and into one with the tech. Talk to the students about what they are doing. That is mind blowing research. Students would much rather be engaged in producing something than on the receiving end of a teacher dominated class. Of course we have different learning styles as well as different ways we do things. Sit 5 people down at five computers and ask them to do a simple task of "cut and paste." You could see five different ways to do this operation and all are acceptable. The words "unique," "individual," and "genius" come to mind as we enter our classrooms. For me with a classroom filled with computers, I see individualized instruction going on, different learning styles are maintained as each scholar pursues knowledge in hir own unique way. I can merely guide and suggest, not dictate.

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