As edtech expert, Tony Vincent, would say, “Date the tool, but marry the ability.” There will always be multiple edtech tools, programs, and products that provide similar principle functions to support student engagement. However, to achieve engagement that exceeds the element of surprise or novelty, which is often necessary as an instructional “hooking” tool, it is imperative that we place the brunt of our instructional design efforts towards building thinking skills and cognitive growth within students.
From Edutopia – I remember exactly where I was when I had a watershed moment that changed me as a teacher forever. In fact, it inspired my EdSurge column, Why the 21st-Century Classroom May Remind You of Starbucks. I was working on my TEDx presentation at my local Starbucks and, looking around, I realized that everyone seemed to be happy, engaged in their work, and relaxed. Some people chose the traditional chairs and tables while I opted for a big, comfy chair with my MacBook on my lap. The quiet music, perfect lighting, and overall aesthetics of the coffee shop were favorable for a variety of learners. And if I wanted to switch up my seat during my stay, I was free to do just that. That’s when I decided that our classroom in 2015-2016 was going to look radically different than anything I’d ever done before.
Here is a new study done by Torrey Trust and her colleagues about Professional Learning Networks. Torrey is the president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. I was privileged to meet her and talk to her at ISTE. She inspired me to begin requiring my college students to create and use PLNs.
A recent study found that giving middle school math teachers access to inquiry-based lesson plans and online support significantly improved student achievement—and benefited weaker teachers the most. Read more by clicking on the following: Study: Give Weak Teachers Good Lesson Plans, Not Professional Development
From the Use the Let Me Learn Process, Cumberland County College, NJ, 2003
Specific things instructors do which made it more difficult for me to learn
- “Didn’t follow a book or some kind of syllabus to follow by.”
- “An instructor who tells me to do an assignment/project with no directions or example.”
- “Assigning work out of the book without going over it.”
- “Strictly lecture.”
- “Lecturing without visuals, samples, cases, notes, or speaking on own opinions”
- “Simply talked w/o writing anything down.”
- “Drone on in a monotone?no feeling or spirit in the tone of the voice, going through the motions of the curriculum.”
- “Made you feel stupid when you ask a questions.”
- “Did nothing but write notes and hand out assignments. I didn’t sign-up for an on-line course but it sure felt like one.”
- “They taught the way they thought was best and that’s it.”
- “Lectured too quickly.”
- “Didn’t explain what they wanted.”
- “Did not encourage questions during a lecture.”
- “One instructor used little class discussion, which made it harder to stay focused.”
- “Would never go over the quizzes or the test.”
(Executive Summary of the Use of the Let Me Learn Process, Cumberland County College, NJ, 2003.)
Specific things instructors do that really helped me learn.
- “Agenda is very clear and topics discussed in an organized pattern.”
- “Instructors, in my opinion, need to be accessible to the students.”
- “Took the extra time to stay after class and answer any questions that I have had.”
- “Relate the course to real-life experiences.”
- “By giving thorough examples.”
- “Providing real-life experiences for topics being discussed so that we could see the importance or value of whatever was being discussed.”
- “The instructor involved me in the lecture to keep me on my toes.”
- “Gave one-on-one help.”
- “Allowed class to have humor rather than get too strict.”
- “Gave me choices and options.”
- “Study guides.”
- “Hands-on examples.”
- “Having open discussions, rather than, busy work with handouts.”
- “Use power point so that we can see what he is lecturing on.”
- “Go over and explain any wrong answers or difficult questions.”
(Executive Summary of the Use of the Let Me Learn Process, Cumberland County College, NJ, 2003)
Here is another hint to help you get the most out of Education Week.
What’s a blog, and why should you follow it? Great question! On edweek.org, blogs can contain news or opinion. We have many Education Week staff-written blogs that are really our way of quickly breaking the news. Opinion blogs are written by leaders in the field. We have over 59 blogs you can follow. Topics vary widely, from special education to charter schools, from classroom management to ed-tech. Nearly 27,000 blog posts are viewed every day on edweek.org.
So when you want to be really tuned in to a particular topic (or two), follow a blog. Here are some of our most popular blogs:
Politics K-12: This must-read EdWeek coverage tracks and analyzes federal and state developments, so you’ll immediately learn about policy changes and political posturing across the country.
Curriculum Matters: Seasoned reporters Catherine Gewertz and Liana Heitin team up to bring you news and analysis of issues at the core of classroom learning.
Teaching Now: Education Week Teacher covers the latest in teaching, from the inspirational to the infuriating, from practical classroom tips to raging policy debates, and from news you can use to news of the weird.
Finding Common Ground: Former elementary school Principal Peter DeWitt writes about the social and emotional health of students and faculty.
Teacher Beat: Reporter Stephen Sawchuk digs into the policy and politics of the teaching profession.
Digital Education: Follow technology trends and topics in K-12 education with Education Week reporter Ben Herold.
How can a teacher use augmented reality in lessons with an inclusive classroom?