Thursday, September 25, 2014

Keeping Students Involved

engagedIn It is NOT the device – It is Engagement!! From Thoughts By Jen, Jennifer  states,

“Whether it is an ipad click, a playdoh squeeze, a spaghetti/marshmallow skyscraper, a skype call, fingerpainting, ….. you fill in the blank — our students HAVE to be given opportunity to “engage.”

It amazes me that we are still having these conversations. I have been hearing this for the past 30 years.

When I started teaching, we had mimeograph machines (Do you remember the ditto sheets with the blue ink that smelled so good? If so, you are probably from my generation. If not, you missed a good thing!) When they came out with Xerox machines, we were so excited because that was going to make teaching better. (not easier, but better). It was going to help us keep the students engaged because we could give them many more worksheets!

When computers first came out (Do you remember the Apple IIe?) Those were really supposed to help us keep the students engaged! I remember that it helped the teachers keep grades on the computer if they could figure out how to program it. It seemed like the students could play DOS games on it as rewards but I don’t remember a lot of real learning going on there.

When whiteboards came out, it was supposed to be so wonderful compared to black chalkboards. No longer did we have to worry about chalk dust or washing blackboards. White boards would be easier to clean and we had different color markers to use! Again, this didn’t really improve teaching or help students be more engaged.

Then Smartboards and Promethean boards came out and that too was going to revolutionize teaching and learning! I saw many teachers who had no idea how to use these tools and they were left unused in many classrooms. Eventually teachers started using it but it was a tool to enhance teaching and not replace teaching. Yet, it really hasn’t seemed to do either.

Now we have come to a time where iPads/tablets are the newest and best thing in the classroom. I’m not sure yet and I don’t think they have been used enough to tell the outcome yet. I hope this is the answer everyone is looking for.

As much as I love new tools and gadgets, I wonder if we are wasting tax money in the classroom by depending on them for learning. I wonder if we shouldn’t use more money training teachers and professional development through a learning community and collaboration.

What do you think? Please share.

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