Again, I can’t really express my gratitude for the quality and quantity of comments on “Seven Questions.” Thank you.View this Post
Here’s a few points that jumped out at me.
So…Um…What Was That Content Standard I’m Supposed To Be Teaching Again?
Responding on her fine group blog and at a sister post, Alice Mercer worries that teachers don’t know that tech can actually fit beautifully into their content standards— and you’re absolutely right on that, Alice. Your example of the Listening and Speaking standards grabbed me because I taught ESL for eight years prior to going mainsteam, and ESL folk often joked about Listening and Speaking being “mythical”– that is, completely overlooked. I don’t think there is a state Speaking assessment anywhere in the US outside of ESL, come to think of it. (Anyone? I’d love to know.)
Without a doubt, the massive potential of Web 2.0 in the classroom is precisely this– the marriage of voice and authentic audience. However I have to say that if you’re working with teachers who don’t even know what their content standards are, my impression is that the central pedagogical problem to be solved has nothing to do with tech.
Anything that Fred Astaire Did…
Arthus and others think that an absence of tech in a school is suffocating. Similarly, Bill Ferriter, who is graciously assisting me while I develop my classroom’s first blog, feels that much of tech’s promise is in its inherent motivational factor for kids. While I have witnessed this and agree, I also think that it’s a red herring. A sparkling, glitzy herring in high heels dancing backwards, but a herring all the same. If I scan a page of a vocabulary workbook into the computer, convert it to PDF, and add digital fill in the blanks, my kids may be “motivated” to work on it– but it’s still the same workbook that has no basis in effective teaching practice, flexible problem solving, or language acquisition research.
And let’s not forget the infinitesmal puddle in which this motivational herring is swimming: novelty. Kids tell me they love using tech in school in large part because, admittedly and sadly, its effective integration is still so limited. But trust me– this won’t last for long. What do we have when we all get our 1:1 laptops in the end (as we will), and this novelty wears off (as it will)? Without decent tech that passes the Seven Questions, we have eight-track cassettes. Cue Barry Manilow.
Cortez and the Lost City of Student Investment
This what was bugging me, I finally figured out, about the logic of the several who pointed out the need to have kids invested in their own learning (ostensibly via tech). I mean, heck, yes– this is the El Dorado, kids invested in their own learning. I can’t agree enough. And surely tech provides an avenue to the Golden City. But folks– and I can’t emphasize this enough– I will not buy my kids’ investment with podcasts and then pretend that I’ve helped them care about poetry. That’s cheating.
In otherwords, enthusiasm for the former (tech) may be a powerful vehicle for the latter (understanding the transformative power of good reading and writing), but it sure ain’t always the same thing. If I can’t create a path to investment via the only path there is– a meaningful, personal connection between content, community, and self— then I’m not doing my job.
Could Someone Please Consider the Spotted Owls?
And You’re Just Plain Wrong About This Next One, Dina.
And finally, I got some seriously thought-provoking comments on what a “digital kid” actually looks like (thanks Jeff, Jeffreygene, and Tom.) They prompted me to do a little digging, and a little asking, and a lot of rethinking. So next up: What the Heck Is a Digital Native, Anyway?