Change is a Good Thing

24 Sep

This is a posting that I wrote for another Blog that I used to use.  I wanted to re-post it here so that my opinions and in some cases frustrations, with technology in the classroom are known to you guys.  The original post date for this was March 8, 2010.

I was reading TeachPaperless today and he posted the top 11 blogs from his archives for us new members. I was drawn to his post, 21 Things That Will Become Obsolete in Education by 2020 and I was excited by his predictions, especially when I noticed that some of them were already obsolete in our school. (Namely; desks and fear of Wikipedia) However, there are some changes things in my school that I would like to see obsolete by next year. The list of Structural Innovation Schools for next year was just released and I was glad to see my school on the list. This means that we need to make some changes for next year. We intended to make many changes this year and we had a great plan but unfortunately, there are many things that never materialized so please bear with me as I begin my brainstorming list of ideas of things to get rid of that I am going to bring to the table when we begin to innovate our school.

1. Negative Attitudes: We need to stop saying it’s not going to work. We need to stop saying “we tried that in 1975 and it did not work”. How do we know if we have never tried? Times have changed, we need to give things another shot. Change will not happen in a positive way if all staff is not 100% on board. We will have some students that will be intimidated by the changes along with some parents and we can not reassure them if we do not believe in what we are doing.

Once that is done we can move on to the meat and potatoes.

2. One teacher, one classroom: We need to work in teams with two teacher, our teacher librarian and specialists. And those teachers need to share the same philosophy and really, really believe in the way they are teaching. Without a strong team, everything falls apart. Our students need to be in flexible groups working with teachers on specific and personalized projects.

3. The lack of available technology: We need to have technology available for every unit, activity, project we desire. I want to plan my class around my ideas not around the laptop schedule. In order for this to happen, see #4.

4. The fear of students breaking the internet: We need to let them use their iPods and laptops from home. We need to allow them access to the wireless password. They will not break the internet. Sites with mature content is filtered. Besides, if they really want to see a naked lady, all they need to do is look in those dusty National Geographics in the back of every library.

5. Classroom walls: We need to allow our students out of the classroom. They need places that they can gather and meet and hear themselves and each other speak. This needs to include the hallway, the library and in nice weather, outside. We also need to get rid of the school walls. They need to get out into the community and experience things.

6. Teacher generated projects and assignments: We need to work collaboratively with our students to see how they would like to learn and even what they would like to learn about. We are now of course restricted by the curriculum so perhaps we need to show the kids their options and gather suggestions on what they could do and explore to meet their learning requirements. Maybe that is how we begin the year: this is what we need to learn, how would you like to do it? Let’s brainstorm…hmmm, that is even more of an interesting idea than I originally thought.

7. Book reports, posters, dioramas and tests: There has to be more interesting ways for students to show what they know. Invent something, design something, create, demonstrate, experiment in front of each other and see what happens and what they can conclude from it. The possibilities are endless and so very exciting.

This is what I would like to see change for next year and I really and truly believe that it will happen because of the strong team in our school and the dedication and enthusiasm of all those that want it to. Come visit us next year to see how it all turns out!

We are now in the school year that I was speaking about in this post.  I know that I will be refering to my progress with a technologically rich, collaborative classroom this year, so I hope that this puts into context where I am coming from and what my “agenda” is!

I also wanted to use this as a response to “The Machine is (Changing) Us”.  In my school we are trying to encourage students to take charge of their learning and to not be apathetic and disengaged from school.  We have a culture where my students feel that they should have answers handed to them and that they are automatically entitled to success.  In my school we have struggled with this and we are very blatantly forcing them to work hard. (By blatantly, I mean we have made very clear to them what we are going to make them learn in a way that is different to them and make them work hard to do so.)  This year I am also trying to create an online collaborative community that extends beyond the school and beyond our school hours.  Despite all of the change that Michael Wesch talks about in his presentation and the engagement of people (in my case, kids) in online communities and technology, students are very resistant to change in how they know school.  School means a teacher talking, students listening and writing down what the teacher says and it is over at 3:30. While they are willing to spend hours talking over their Playstations, Skyping, BBMing and texting, posting to YouTube, communicating on Facebook etc., once you try to take their classrooms to these environments they become uncomfortable.  My plan this year is to make it more comfortable and take my classroom to that next level.  I hope that you enjoy my journey.

BTW, I still think Charlie Bit my Finger is really funny.

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2 Responses to “Change is a Good Thing”

  1. Jen Hall September 26, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    I am interested to hear on how progress with these changes Danielle. I completely agree that students get uncomfortable when teachers start using all the social outlets (facebook, twitter, skype etc) in the classroom because they do not see them as a part of traditional school. I believe that they need to be shown how these things can be both fun and educational.

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  1. Reactions to Michael Wesch videos | Lisa's EC&I831 Blog - September 29, 2010

    […] Danielle Stinson put it on her blog: While they are willing to spend hours talking over their Playstations, Skyping, BBMing and […]

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