Trial and Error, Relationship, Advancement

The interviewee is a colleague at my school, presently in his fourth year teaching in areas of Science, Math and PE. The interview took place in my classroom after lunch on a professional development day. Three summary points are elaborated below:

  • Trial and Error

Technology can at least be used for instruction, administration and interaction, where the interviewee described using computer-based technology: Tablets and projectors for teaching, Websites for announcements to keep up to date, and Online simulations like PhET and Youtube where students can explore. The interviewee explained how simulations help visualize concepts to understand phase changes for molecules, in place of stationary pictures in textbooks. Geogebra and Desmos likewise help learners connect with math, accessing through open source platforms. The biggest advice from him was “trial and error”, in that technology might not work after all, but at least you’ll know by trying it out. To confront fear of failure, he suggested not trying with the entire class, but maybe a small group afterschool first.

  • Relationship

The interviewee modelled a genuine and mutual interaction with students, receiving feedback to determine whether technology was successful. Certain students learn better with technology, while others disengage as phones can be distractions. He described how social media is always at their fingertips, possibly eliciting worry about their online presence the whole time. The interviewee emphasized being clear with expectations (ex. when to use technology), discretely trying not to make a scene. Of course that depends on students, though it escalates for him when student not only affects him/herself but those around him. Students want genuine teachers who acknowledge weaknesses, promoting collaborative attitudes like “let’s work on this together”. Otherwise student doesn’t want to participate when they don’t understand, perceiving teacher as the expert. The model is teamwork based, so educators don’t have to know everything, but can problem solve with colleagues and peers. Interviewee described how teachers often forget how good students are with technology, where learners can feel empowered to passionately share with the class.

  • Advancement

Interviewee described how when he went through school, while technology was not limited (ex. All The Right Type, Paint), it was very simple technology with limited programming even in computer classes. While Science and Math used different software, he would only rarely go to computer labs for the purpose of research. Sometimes even tried technologies like Powerpoint doesn’t work too well, presenting information too quickly for students to process. Interviewee recognizes that now technology is everywhere, so why try to hide something so powerful when “they can search up the world”. As such, the interviewee encourages bringing laptops for learning, exploring modern apps that make phones wonderful learning tools. The gender stereotypes that were prominent before are much less pronounced, as girls use modern apps equally shrinking possible gender discrimination issues.

5 comments

  1. I thought you did a great job with your interview. I loved that you touched on the importance of the relationship between the teacher and the student. The teacher you interviewed obviously has a great grasp on the importance of meeting the needs of ALL of his students. “Students want genuine teachers who acknowledge weaknesses, promoting collaborative attitudes like “let’s work on this together”. Otherwise student doesn’t want to participate when they don’t understand, perceiving teacher as the expert. “ This is especially important with students that are in older grades. What grade did the educator you interviewed teach? I gather it is high school which would make sense that the students stress the importance of having a teacher who understands them.

    You also touched on students sharing their expertise in utilizing technology with their classmates. In my experience, having students teach each other is one of the best ways for learning to transpire. Have you ever heard of the Jigsaw II Method? If not, I’ll give you a quick explanation…

    Jigsaw II is a slight expansion of the original Jigsaw Method (Lai & Wu, 2006). Instead of learners breaking off individually, reading about the material and coming back and teaching their group members, the students break off into secondary groups and discuss the topic at hand together. Once enough discussion has been had, the students then return to their original Jigsaw group and teach their peers about the topic they researched (Lai & Wu, 2006).

    Below is a diagram to further illustrate what the Jigsaw II Method entails.

    First Step: Second Step:
    Original Jigsaw Group # 1 Jigsaw II Groups

    A B AAA BBB
    C D CCC DDD

    Original Jigsaw Group # 2

    A B
    C D

    Original Jigsaw Group # 3

    A B
    C D

    Third Step: Fourth/Final Step:
    Back to Original Jigsaw Groups Comprehensive Quiz

    Group 1
    Group 2
    Group 3

    When you mentioned that “the model is teamwork based, so educators don’t have to know everything, but can problem solve with colleagues and peers”, I immediately thought of the efficiency of the Jigsaw II Method. Do you believe that this method would work in any classroom or restrict it to a certain grade level?

    References

    Lai, C.Y., & Wu, C.C. (2006). Using handhelds in a jigsaw cooperative learning environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 22(4), 284-297.

    1. Sorry the formatting of the ‘diagram’ did not work out at all and unfortunately I cannot add in an image to help support. If you google “Jigsaw Method II Diagram” I’m sure you will be able to see what I was trying to demonstrate. Sorry about the format!

  2. Thanks for the replies Kirsten, no worries about the formatting. I’ve definitely used the original Jigsaw method, but version II is new to me. As per your question, the teacher I interviewed teaches Science 10 and Chemistry 11, though his interaction with students even in the hallways consistently emphasizes his priorities in relationships.

    Andrew

  3. I also agree with your interviewee in that trial and error and the willingness to accept dealing with certain lessons that don’t work out to be vital while trying to incorporate technology in the classroom. There are so many teachers out there who are unwilling to incorporate a higher degree of technology into their pedagogy because of the potential risks (eg: class falling off track due to distractions, difficult to help students troubleshoot, etc), and I think it is quite unfortunate, and honestly not doing our students a service.

  4. Trial and Error
    I think that it is great that your interviewee uses simulations to help students learn. I have been trying to incorporate simulations in my grade 4 science class. A couple of weeks ago we were manipulating gears online and adding different combinations of pulleys to learn how they function. It was an amazing experience for the kids. They were engaged, focused, and inquisitive. It took me a while to find the right combination of activities, but the effort was well worth it.

    Relationships
    I agree that technology can be a great learning tool as well as a distraction. Students who aren’t focused and on task are as much alive today as in the past. In the end, it comes down to classroom management and the relationships that we build with our students. Getting feedback from students is an excellent way to gain perspective on where students are at.

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