Education Reform From the Teacher's Perspective

Friday, February 22, 2008

I recently attended a training seminar put on my local county office of education. The training included some great best practices on teaching students and addressing their various multiple intelligences (MI). However, one piece of the training has bothered me since I went: where was the technology?One of my fellow participants tried to involve the presenters in discussing how their methods could be adapted to include the use of smartboards; the presenters sidestepped the entire question and proceeded to use poster paper and transparencies instead.

This technology-absent method of teaching, which may have worked as recently as the 1990’s, will not be as effective when our audience spends much of their free time on MySpace and with their various game platforms. Instead, we as educators need to keep in mind some important considerations when designing or implemenenting our curriculum for our digitally native students.

1. Keeping learner’s attention.

We have to keep the attention of our learners, in as much as we are providing direct instruction, and keep in mind that our students may already be moving on to the next idea or task. Is the instructional method relevant? Will the learner be “wowed” enough to keep their focus on the task?

2. What will capture and keep the learner’s attention?

Is the use of technology flashy and overdone, or is it used in a seamless manner where it is a natural extension of the lesson? One example would be using a smartboard or smartpad to write on the screen as you teach. I generally, for example, when teaching new vocabulary, write on the smartboard exactly what the students are discussing so they can see in quick succession what they are saying and thinking.

3. How can the educator keep up to date?

There are many exciting technologies in what is commonly referred to as Web 2.0 (I call it “super-charged internet") such as Twitter, a kind of fast-paced blogging, school-friendly blogging such as Edublogs, and a very well rounded set of education related blogs that bring new ideas and update old ideas to educators.

We need to continually update our pedagogy and even mandated curriculum to include technology if we hope to keep our students engaged, even riveted, to what we are trying to help our students to learn.

Dr. James Norwood is a middle school teacher (English/Language Arts and Drama). He is very passionate about true education reform that reaches all students and all parents. Dr. Norwood possess a PhD in the area of curriculum and instruction and spends much of his time working with his school and district developing a more holistic approach to the curriculum. Contact me


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