Change in Thinking, Availability (and Plan B), Openness

Interview

Teacher A: Male, teaching Grade 8 (Math, Science, French) in a Middle School, has been teaching for 12 years. The interview took place after school in the Learning Commons of the Middle School.

3 summary key points:

Change in Thinking 

Teacher A believes that technology enhances the classroom and his teaching experience. However, “My students have access to the Internet which is full of information, not knowledge. They need to change their thinking to take the information and make it into something or apply it in some way”. Students are not longer looking for a right or wrong answer. His students are encouraged to take this information and change it into knowledge of some form. They would be able to communicate their understanding in a new dimension, or using different platforms to represent what they have learned.

Availability (and Plan B) – The Ugly Reality

 The physical availability of technology in our Middle School. With close to 1000 students, there is not enough technology to go around. Teacher A exhibits frustration with having planned an engaging lesson utilizing technology, only to find that the booking system glitched, another teacher taking the tech, or having to spend time running around our school to find the carts when they were not returned. Teacher A is also located in a portable that does not have a ramp, so students have to carry the tech in (often in the rain). Problems with Wi-Fi and teachers’ inability to problem-solve technical issues as much of it is controlled at the District level, and not the school level, also add to his frustration. If he had access to the technology, he could plan which Apps to use and ask students for their input as to which ones to use. Teacher A also expressed how tired he was of often having to organize a “Plan B” and preparing for worst-case scenarios – no tech.

Openness

Even with his current frustration with technology at school, Teacher A is still willing and open to try something new and incorporate technology in his classes. He enjoys the flexibility that technology allows, the opportunities for students to show their learning in different ways, and to learn and apply skills that “they will use more in the next 20 years”.

 

 

2 comments

  1. Hi Natalie,
    When reading your interview with Teacher A, I was brought back to the reading in Module A, ‘Wise design for knowledge integration’ (Linn, M., Clark, D., and Slotta, J., 2003). I appreciated how Teacher A explains that the internet is full of information, however it does not provide knowledge. At a Professional Development workshop I went to on incorporating technology into inquiry, the teacher explained how our students are used to accessing information on the internet, that they often soak it up like a sponge without assessing whether it’s factual. For example, she explained that in her animal unit, she brought the students to the library and they navigated as a class through a number of different websites about different mammals. At one point, she pulled up a hoax site to test her students on their ability to evaluate the authenticity of a website. The fake site teaches about the ‘Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/).’ She said it was very informative to listen to her students as they looked through this website. The website provided so much information, that by the end, all of the students except for one believed this was factual, and that the Tree Octopus actually existed, even though they had never heard about it until today. I think it’s important, like Teacher A, to encourage our students to be critical thinkers and design a learning environment that supports inquiry. “We define inquiry as engaging students in the intentional process of diagnosing problems, critiquing experiments, distinguishing alternatives, planning investigations, revising views, researching conjectures, searching for information, constructing models, debating with peers, communicating to diverse audiences,and forming coherent argument” ((Linn, M., Clark, D., and Slotta, J., 2003).

    References: Linn, M. C., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. D. (2003). WISE design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538. doi:10.1002/sce.10086

    1. Thank you Danielle for your reply! I wonder if the focus on “fake news” in the media will facilitate more discussions with students and teachers (and hopefully their parents) on ways to not just “soak it up like a sponge” without actually checking to see if it is true! I think it would be wise for adults to be doing this as well!

      Thanks for sharing the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus link. I’m going to share that one!

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