Teachers Changing the Way We Read, Write, Think, and Live
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A Hypothetical Text Thread with Will Richardson: Unlearning Teaching
Reading, Technology and Me:
The 21st Century is transforming the way that our students are learning, the way we are teaching them and the way that we are interacting with colleagues. Education is evolving and so is the way we as life-long learners dialogue with the academic texts we read. I recently read Will Richardson’s Learning on the Blog, and after a semester of learning to dialogue with the pedagogical texts of the leading authors in education I wondered to myself, what would a conversation with Will Richardson look like. How would I communicate with him? What advice would he give me, a novice teacher in the field? Surrounded by technology and attached to my iPhone, I concocted a two way dialogue.
Picture this: you are an elementary or high school student of the Digital Generation. You know your technology, you find yourself learning more and more from the interconnected world, and you are excited to engage others in this virtual conversation. You go to class and at the front of the room is the teacher, writing terms on the board or beginning to open a PowerPoint presentation. The teacher begins to lecture you on a topic, bestowing their knowledge upon you. You are confused and ask a question, which the teacher strangely dismisses and continues with the lecture. At this point, you are confused. Aren’t teachers supposed to be the experts? How come the teacher didn’t know the answer to your question? Why did they dismiss you like that? Is the teacher not learning new things? Why don't teachers get up with the times? At this point you stop thinking and fall asleep. …
Why does the learning stop?
Q: Teachers never have to learn again after they receive their certification and Master’s degree. True or false?
A: False: Teachers need to redefine their concept of learning to include not only their students, but themselves as well.
Richardson believes that teachers are in dire…Continue
How many teachers have you seen as a practical Luddite when it comes to using more than the chalk board or projector in class? I, for one, had a teacher, who in 2005 mind you, insisted on putting everything he showed our class on an overhead projector. I could barely stifle back my yawns. Surely there was a better way to engage the students about the formations of weather systems? An animation? A video? In Will Richardson's post, "Urgent: 21st Century Skills for Educators (and Others) First," Richardson identifies a problem that many educators face. In fact, it's a problem that I see in the classroom even today. Richardson takes teachers to task for preaching the good word of educating today's youth in 21st Century Literacy Skills, when the teachers themselves are not educated themselves.
How many times have you seen teachers trying to load a video or a PowerPoint presentation and stumble along the way, perhaps loading the wrong presentation along the way, or accidentally skipping ahead showing a part of a video that the students weren't supposed to see yet? This happens often. Anyone that was privileged enough to see Dr. Alan Singer's presentation about Pearson taking over education a couple weeks ago saw this. He is an intelligent man with a worthy cause, but he stumbled over his own presentation, having to defer to other teachers to set up his presentation for him. This takes the steam out of a presentation.
Richardson also tells stories of presenters having little or no web footprints. When he left a presentation about 21st Century Literacy Skills, he looked up a majority of the people he met. Only a small handful of them had a web footprint and connected with him via…Continue
Presently the education system is dipping their toes into the white waters of personalization and individualization in education for students and teachers. It’s a fast moving current, as our society is constantly changing, but hanging on to standardized education will only hold back what could be an amazing ride.
Personalization of Education
Will Richardson discusses the personalization of education for both students and teachers in his blog entry, “Personalizing Education for Teachers, Too”. A teacher’s role, Richardson maintains, is to “help [students] find what they love to do more than anything else and then support them in their learning endeavors that surround this topic”(Richardson 9). So, how do educators personalize education while fulfilling the state’s standardized requirements?
Choice Based Learning
One option is choice based learning, giving students the opportunity to make decisions that can implement their own interests into the classroom. Objectives of daily learning as well as full unit objectives in the ELA classroom do not have to require one general and standardized text; it can be individualized through CHOICE. Students have a range of reading and understanding abilities as well as interests; it is up for teachers to allow children to explore what they are passionate or curious about. Another type of choice based learning is allowing students to present information in different mediums, such as in writing, orally, through video, through audio, in a PowerPoint, in a set of images, etc. This gives students the opportunity to explore technological tools available to them for exhibiting subject material or projects.
Teachers Need Personalization TOO
Will Richardson suggests in his post on teachers as master learners, that teachers need to move off the center stage within classroom dynamics. They should no longer occupy the only position of expert within the classroom because with the advent of technology and information, students are doing their fact checking in real time. Knowledge is available at exponential rates. Instead teachers need to model learning for their students. What Richardson argues, is that essential to contemporary classrooms is a shift in educators’ roles. Teachers, filling the role that Vygotsky described as a “facilitator” of knowledge, need to be effective communicators and be able to spell out for students how they themselves process new information.
Out with the old, in with the new
Adapting classrooms to 21st century digital literacies inherently changes the role of the teacher. It is impossible to teach all of the knowledge that is now available; teachers are no longer the experts in a setting where children merely need to “google” their answers.
The End of Books? (For Me, at Least?)
Could it be? Are books really being considered useless now? Yes, yes they are (cue audience gasp). Yes, that is exactly what Will Richardson is conveying in his book called, Learning on the Blog. Within Part II, in the section titled “The End of Books? For Me, at Least?” Richardson comes to the conclusion that the apps and tools that Kindles have are far more useful than reading from an actual book. Now, you must understand that this was hard for him to admit; this comes from a man who claims he “loves book” and has over 1,000 of them in his…Continue
Technology is changing the way the world works every day. Ten years from now there is no way of telling what advances will have occurred due to the usage of technology. This is a thought that scares many people throughout the world. Technology usage is at its all time high, therefore previous generations do not know how to interact and adjust to the different opportunities that using technology could bring. So what does that mean for our children? Well, since the older generation does not know or understand technology there is no way of teaching the information to our children.
In his blog “What Do We Know About Our Kids’ Futures? Really”, Will Richardson mentions his view on the issue that even though there is no way of predicting what the future will hold, he does not feel that the curriculum being taught to our children is going to benefit them in any way. In order to best prepare our children for the future, Richardson believes that the school system needs to change the curriculum being taught. Richardson suggests a list of qualities that our children should have in order to be as fully prepared for the future with technology as possible. Some examples include:
There is no way of telling what the future is going to be like or what role technology will have in our lives, but the best way to ensure that our children are prepared for what…Continue
When we think about learners we think of the connections and networks that anyone of any age can learn from, well at least I do! We have a long way to go still in order to achieve these connections in a school setting. According to Will Richardson from Learning on the Blog, “We are still about control, not sharing. We are still about distribution, not aggregation. We are still about closed content rather than open. We are static, not fluid." Meaning that schools are more about traditional methods (control) of teaching instead of blogging (sharing) and other methods like so. Also, there is a closed content meaning a set content that must be taught, rather than open concept.
Students are off creating their own personal networks. While the creation of these learning networks are not happening in schools, the learners learning from what others share on their own networks by creating a Personal Learning Community outside of the classroom.
When we think of collaboration most people think about group work. There is other ways! Students want to collaborate in a fun way such as on a learning network. Students can take networking to a whole new level if given the opportunity. Very few students actually get this chance though, especially if teachers are not educated in networking themselves. Richardson says when talking about our teachers, and their understanding of technology, "they understand little about what it means to be either in a world that is more globally interconnected." This affects the student when it comes to being networked. If students were able to practice networking in a collaborative environment then they would learn so much. How this affects the students is if not one is teaching them how to use these networks or that the teachers aren't sure how to work something than the students will never have the opportunity to share their knowledge and learn from others knowledge.…Continue
Throughout the semester, our AED408 class has been implementing the use of writing workshops. I think it's safe to say that we've all had some amazing writing experiences using this method. Chapter 12 of Teaching the New Writing reflects upon the importance, and the benefits of using writing workshops (refer to page 202). I want to focus on this for my facilitation because I feel as though the writing workshop is monumental, and it is something that we should all plan to implement in our own classrooms in the future. (Here's an awesome link explaining Writing Workshops). Through the "recursive elements of the writing process: generating ideas, drafting, getting feedback, revising and publishing," our 408 class has been able to experience the power of writing workshops and the positive effect it has on our own writing (202). I have seen drastic changes in my writing ability, as well as my confidence in my writing. Workshops also promote collaboration and encourage students to work together and learn from one another. Implementing Writing Workshops and the use of Writer's Notebooks into our future classrooms is, quite possibly, the biggest favor we can do for our students and their writing. What are your thoughts on these methods? How have they affected you as a writer? Will you implement writing workshops and notebooks into your classroom? Explain...Continue
Chapter 8 describes a high school public speaking class that strays from the norm. Instead of having the students write speeches and deliver them in front of the class, this group of students records them into podcasts to post on the internet. This kind of a class naturally has its benefits as well as its problems, but one of the greatest benefits comes through assessment. How does a podcast allow for a better means for assessment, when compared to a regular in-class speech? When considering all the disucussion and emphasis we have put on revision with our work, how do these podcasts teach students about the revising process? On page 133, the author describes the podcasts as a way for students to become "global citizens". What do you think this means? Also, this chapter spends a lot of time discussing the positives of setting up podcasts in the classroom. What are some of the negatives that could arise from such a class, and how could you counteract them? As a teacher, what kind of rules and guidelines must you impose on the class before starting something like this? And how would you handle parental questions/complaints?Continue
Voetry? What in the world is this girl talking about? I’m talking about video poetry, people! That’s right! Fusing poetry with video technology to show students how, through planning, division, editing, and collaboration, they can turn any poem into a media project! (And then the author of Teaching the New Writing gets a little tricky – he applies these concepts to writing an essay! Imagine that…) This project is great for a few reasons. One, “students are choosing the poems” themselves (Schwartz 95). This gives them a sense of control and will encourage them to dedicate themselves to this project. Students are more apt to work hard on something that they choose themselves. The same applies for writing essays – if a student picks a topic, or approaches a topic in a way that interests them, they are going to dedicate their best skills to writing the essay. On page 103 of Teaching the New Writing is the assessment for the video poetry. The assessment includes areas such as turning in a completed “plan” for the entire group, being “creative,” correctly or meaningfully “interpreting” the poem, and keeping the video to a time limit of two minutes – and “editing” it until it fits the time space given. If you think about it, all of this goes into writing essays. Before writing an essay, you should plan, or brainstorm, what you are going to write about. Also known as an outline. Then student do research into a topic, drawing their own conclusions, or interpreting, what they’ve found. Also, papers usually have a page requirement. Most times teachers give students a min. page number, now a max. But I feel as if the max…Continue
I loved this chapter! I thought it really connected to what we are doing in English 307. We recently made podcasts of our very own radio shows. We had to learn how to use programs such as Garage Band or Audacity in order to record our voice and add in bumpers, commercials, and jingles. It was a great way to learn how to use these new technologies and interestingly, they related to essay writing. As a group, we had to make sure that our transitions were smooth and we had a catchy introduction as well as a great conclusion. In the chapter, the teacher, who caught a speech class, "wanted students to communicate in front of [the] class audience, in small groups, and through multimedia, to a large audience" (125). The teacher wanted her students to understand speeches and to face their fears of public speaking in new and different ways. Through creating podcasts of their individual speeches, students were able to listen to their voice and make such they used their voice in order to convey their meaning. Furthermore, she "believed she would provide opportunities for my students to have a larger audience and extend their voices beyond the one time speech at the podium, essentially eliminating the constraints of time, place, and the walls of the classroom." (126). I think this is a great idea to use in the classroom. Students are learning how to effectively write a speech and are learning that they can write something that interests them and is interesting to other people.What about assessment? According the text, "the new standards are encouraging teachers to use technology" (135) Therefore teachers have an 'excuse' to use this new technology in the classroom and can easily find a standard that fits. Do you think that this project can work in our schools today? The text says, "the problem is that this project occurred in isolation, in a high school that is hamstrung by concerns about Adequate Yearly Progress, and in a state that struggles to produce enough jobs for its…Continue