“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

While watching the following video cases, I couldn’t help but think about the quote by Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” I explored video cases 5 and 8, and the common theme that good use of technology in the science and math classroom is when students effectively use technology to explain their thinking and understanding, clearly, creatively, and collaboratively.

Video Case 5
The first video began with the teacher who was very positive and optimistic about her use of technology in the classroom. She often spoke about how busy yet engaged the students in her class are with their project-based activities. From the background noise heard in the video, it is clear that the students enjoy her science class; the kids are talking, thinking, and learning. The teacher goes on to talk about how she is more of a coach in the classroom, often referring to the class as her team. She encourages risk-taking, while modelling this herself, by integrating technology into her lessons, often mentioning how she self-taught herself. This teacher clearly enjoys organized chaos and is not rigid in her classroom managment, by this I mean she is comfortable allowing the students to guide their own inquiry. Her growth mindset is obvious when compared and contrasted with the retired teacher video.

The retired teacher reiterates on more than one occasion that technology is frustrating for her, and time consuming. This made me question why is it okay for teachers to display this negative narrative in schools when teachers are often seen as role models, or at least in roles of influence. This can often be said for regarding math, when parents or teacher say in front of students, this subject is not their strong suit. One of the things I have noticed from my own students is that they will always be the collective experts because they are willing to take risks in their learning, displaying trial and error in its finest. I was equally surprised by the new teachers video confession that she worried about the lack of time available for her to implement technology into her lessons. However, I think she raised an important point in that her B.Ed did not tackle technology integration as an important subject area while preparing her to teach. Overall, the issue that stood out for me from this video is how do schools foster collaborative teams of teachers and students who are willing to take-risks in their learning to showcase their understandings?

Video Case 8
This video explore the perspective of the pre-service teacher students who are creating content based videos using slomation, or digital animation. This video made we compare how excited these adults were in creating these videos, relying on collaboration, communication, and creativity in their own groups, and how this would easily be adapted by their own students when given the chance. This use of technology in the science classroom can easily be adapted by students in elementary and middle school. Not only are student learning about the content of the subject matter but they are also learning the skills behind video editing, researching, time management, negotiating order of importance, etc. This integrated learning engagement far exceeds the retention of what would be remembered if students were only to read and observe information in a print based textbook, for example. Here, students are engaging the senses and learning is happening organically.

Overall, these two video cases reinforced my belief that when technology is integrated meaningfully into the design of a learning engagement, many learning objectives are being met collectively. Students are excited to explain what they know in a simple, yet intricate way with the support of technology as a tool.

2 comments

  1. Cristina

    I like the fact that you compared “risk-taking” teacher vs one that is retiring that finds technology “frustrating for her, and time-consuming.” I wonder if this is in our DNA. Twenty-five percent of the population are risk-takers – they like roller coasters and to the extreme skydiving.

    I wonder if teachers that are not risk-takers can be trained to be?

    A good next step might be to find out from a retired or near re-retired teacher if they have changed their attitude and how they teach over the years.

    Christopher

  2. Hi Cristina,

    I do agree with you that the integrations do excite the students a lot and that’s what fuels most of their learning that occurs and students are often even more excited to share what they’ve accomplished on their own. You also pointed a good point about how some teachers may not be “risk-takers”. Sparking a change is hard and a slow process, but Christopher is right, finding out if the retired teacher has changed their perspective would be an interesting follow-up to have.

    Wanyi

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