Teachers Changing the Way We Read, Write, Think, and Live
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 social media. How can these people be seen as tech-literate if they don't appear tech-literate themselves?
How do we combat this?
Teachers, not students, are those that need education. Richardson feels that the teachers that continue to teach our students are just as in need of this education as the students. This can be handled in a variety of ways. Those that attempt to use these literacies need refinement. One problem Richardson states is a "death by Power Point presentation style," which means the presentation needs sprucing up. One method is to view my presentation(Which will be linked here) on how to create an effective Power Point presentation. Another way to combat this is to have the teachers use different web 2.0 apps to present their lesson to their students. A teacher that uses PowToons or another similar program is sure to get the attention of their students, also learning how to use similar applications in the process.
To combat Richardson's problem of having a small or no web footprint, he suggests that teachers be heard. With a large number of blogs and Twitter available to the general public, modern educators should have an easy outlet to publish things. It also allows them to engage in professional dialogue.
There's no excuse!
It isn't a failure to admit that you need help. Coming from a different generation, it is sometimes harder to engage in modern technology, but as they say, practice makes perfect. There are plenty of other outlets, too. Twitter and blogs offer teachers up a more casual way to engage with others. A very useful tool for teachers is Twitter. When engaging other teachers in Tweet Chats, doors can open for educators that they never knew existed. New teaching methods, new types of lesson plans, or simply new ways to look at a problem they are having. Once you engage modern technology and new applications and programs for the classroom, new doors open. We are talking about the future of tomorrow, there is no excuse to be dragging our feet on a matter of such great importance!