Like just about every other school board, the one running our overly-large school district goes through a regular ritual of defining instructional goals for our students.
This year’s batch includes an interesting little item declaring that students will “understand the interrelationship and interdependence of the countries and cultures of the world.”
Of course, once board members come up with extremely broad ambitions like that, it becomes the job of many others much lower down in the system to figure out exactly how to make that happen.
One way will be with a little something for 5th and 8th grade students called the Global Awareness and Technology Project.
Yeah, I don’t understand using the term “technology” either. How could you do such a project with out it? I would have put Communications in there instead.
Anyway, all of that is a long winded preface to the point of this entry.
One of the small group of teachers who is trying out the first draft of this project as the school year winds down is Jennifer who blogs over at Elementary My Dear, or Far From It.
She is, however, somewhat disappointed with some of the choices her students have made in the technology they’re using to present what they’ve learned.
And yet…certain things are driving me insane. Many of my kids are creating PowerPoints. A couple of them are fantastic. Most are not. They are so focused on making the slides look cool, transition in interesting ways, and have fun graphics that the content is getting no focus. A lot of kids are creating websites. Again, a couple are really well done. Most are so focused on having fun with the technology (and posting on each other’s guestbooks) that their content stinks.
Fortunately, she’s not giving up on the concept and plans to try the project again next year, but she also has a lot of questions on how to make things better.
If you have time, drop by to offer Jennifer some answers and ideas.
It would seem that we have yet another case where we thought we had “users” who knew what to do but, instead, we have students who don’t really know what they should be doing so they do what comes natural, create “cool” stuff! And knock one another. We need to realize using the tools won’t suddenly create great presentations or bring great content. We need to spend time working with students, identifying what might work, what might not, what is good information and what really stinks! This is no different than having them create posters or other such visual aids. It just allows them to create more, do more with them and have more fun. Teachers still need to focus on their objectives and how using the technology will get them there and then not assume that the students know what to do with the technology because most don’t!
This appears to be influenced heavily by the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program- which emphasizes the Design Cycle for Technology.
But the Europeans consider technology to include any materials that benefit mankind- a broader definition beyond microchips. So, integrating technology can include lots of things besides computers and software- like old technologies of wood, paper, steel, etc.
And they spell “program” with an extra “me”…..
Of course, IBMYP philosophy, with its focus on cross curricular integration, real world focus, and other stuff will appear very familiar to any teacher who has taught in elementary school, where one teacher often teaches all subjects and integrates them into each other for richer understanding.
So, let’s hope that perhaps principles of good teaching is good teaching regardless of origin, spelling preferrences, or fancy acronyms. :-)