Archive | November 2011

Telling Tech Tales out of School

I am an innovative teacher. I spend hours of my own time each day working to maximize my student’s opportunities to learn in my classroom. I am aware of and well versed with educational technology and their contributions to 21st century learning skills.I work at a medium suburban high school in a state recognized for its high student achievement rates. It has been recognized in national news magazines as one of the best. For the most part my students are engaged, motivated and hardworking. My colleagues are some of the best teachers in the state.

What am I lacking? The technological support that I need to give my students the digital education that they need. I confess though, in my high school, I am one of the lucky ones. I have 8 five year old laptops that my students usually get first dibs on. Why my students? I am one of the few that haven’t thrown up her arms in utter frustration and given up on our tech resources completely. In addition, I complain loudly when my students’ learning is hampered by lack of resources.

What do I want? I want my students to have wifi access so they can use their own tech equipment to supplement our few dying machines. I want the password that will “unfreeze” my computer so that I can save bookmarks and install software I need. I want the teachers at my school to influence how our tech department spends their limited funds and human resources. I want to be able to call upon the resources available in the tech department as a respected coworker who shares common goals with our tech support staff.

There is little point in discussing why I can only wish for the above support. It will suffice to say that student achievement is not the foremost goal for all involved.

I have decided to buy a wireless router for my classroom. I will connect it to the network port that supplies my computer with internet services. I will allow my students to enter the 21st century in whatever way I can help them to get there. Frankly, I feel a bit afraid of the trouble I will stir up and wonder what reprimands will come my way. I am sure I will not lose my job, but I will irritate people who exist to support my work. I continue to evoke the ire of our tech department because I will not give up fighting for my students-ever

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Let’s Rework Homework

Let’s Rework Homework !
A Leap of Faith

In twenty years of teaching high school science, I have come to know the following groups of students by their response to homework assignments.

dutiful do-ers These students do every assignment, whether or not it is helpful and they feel good about doing it. These students will rarely miss an assignment. Occasionally they miss it due to extenuating circumstances, this makes them anxious and only making it up brings relief.

don’t do-ers These students do not do homework on principle. The benefit of the assignment is not considered and all assignments are dismissed without regard to their utility.

skeptical do-ers These students have not given up on homework, but tend to choose to neglect homework that they feel doesn’t benefit them and focus on what is useful to them.

resentful do-ers These students usually do assigned homework, even if they think it is of little use to them. Sometimes they choose not to do the homework because it seems absolutely pointless.

just can’t do-ers These students juggle many balls during their after school hours. They are forced to set priorities and homework is not high on the list.

Students deserve the opportunity to serve an active role in deciding what promotes their classroom success. Will they consistently make the most discerning choice? Probably not, but evaluating what will enhance their learning  is critical thinking at its essence. Should homework be optional?