Monday Musing: T.H.E. Journal Guest Blog

May 12, 2014 by

Are you getting a little crazy in the classroom?

Recently I was invited to be a guest blogger on T.H.E. Journal which is a fantastic resource for many, many educational tools including classroom resources to infrastructure to professional development.  I am thrilled to be able to contribute to this resource.   Below is the article that I submitted or you can check it out here.  Are you getting a little crazy in the classroom?

One of the benefits of living in Singapore is the chance to visit and work in schools like Nan Chiau Primary.  Nan Chiau is one of the schools around the world which is building the foundation for amazing learning through the 1:1 initiative that Elliot and Cathleen started there six years ago.  I was fortunate enough to visit Elliot and Cathleen at Nan Chiau yesterday and we began discussing learning and why districts, administrators, and teachers must start implementing technology.  Like many teachers, I was resistant to using technology at the start.  I didn’t use any my first two years in classroom (except the days my administrator would evaluate me and, for those days, I would throw together a PowerPoint!).  Now I am lucky to work with some amazing districts, schools, administrators and and teachers around the world that are revolutionizing education.  Here are the three reasons I don’t think I can be a great teacher without using mobile technology in my classroom:

1)     Mobile technology is a lifeline for many of our learners. 

Although I started in general education, I found myself constantly pulled to the underdog in my classroom- the English Language Learner, the student with a learning disability.  And I soon came to realize that many of these students are smart, they just need a different way to learn, express themselves, or practice organization.  These devices can be the difference between success and failure for many of our students.  We would never take away a wheel chair from a kid– why do we take away their link to learning?

2)     Mobile technology has the power to engage the Last Backpack Generation.

This is the last generation of students who will carry backpacks to school.  They have grown up playing on an iPad or on their parents Galaxy.  Research shows very clearly that one of the most powerful predictors of learning is engagement.  Are students in your school today engaged with their mobile device?  If this generation of learners enters our schools and we give them a stack of worksheets, we will lose them.  Quickly.  So we have to take advantage of that power and engage the heck out of our learners.

3)     Mobile technology creates combustible, amazing, super-incredible learning experiences.

And I am not talking about an app or a fancy program.  I am talking about having students use the video recorder on their device to make video of vocabulary words.  I am talking about having students take pictures in the community of different angles and discussing them in geometry class.  I am talking about having students reach out to candidates in local elections via Twitter and having those candidates come to your school or classroom to discuss the issues.  The more I use mobile technology and the more I work with teachers around the world, the more strategies I learn and the better teacher I become.  Simply put, there are a lot of relevant learning experiences that a textbook cannot provide.  But a mobile device and a creative teacher can provide those experiences.  And we should take advantage of all of them.

As I said above, it is the administrators and teachers who are revolutionizing education.  It is not technology itself.  But the best administrators and schools recognize that mobile technology is too powerful, too engaging, and too much of a lifeline for many of our learners to not use because we are scared or because we are uncomfortable.  If we want to be great teachers who really prepare our students for the world they will be entering, we have to adapt our teaching.  We have to be willing to fail while we adapt- and modeling failure is a good thing because it teaches resilience and endurance.  And those qualities tend to be pretty important in life.  We have to revolutionize our classrooms. 

We have to get a little crazy.


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