Death by PowerPoint!!!

ist2_3673810_bullet_holes.jpgFirst of all, this post is not designed to insult anyone or call into question how a person teaches his/her class.  It is just my thoughts after reading about the use of PowerPoint in classrooms.  I have actually observed some sound instructional use of PowerPoint at both Read Mountain and Lord Botetourt.  This post is more of a commentary on the use of technology in education and if it makes a person think about how they use PowerPoint, all the better!!

How many teachers out there think it is good instructional practice to stand up in front of the class and talk at them for the entire period?  I dare say that most teachers worth their apples would frown at such a display of teaching practice.  If I asked teachers why this is not a good instructional practice, I would hear answers like:  students check out, no checking for understanding, students not actively engaged, students learn by doing, boring, etc.

Okay, here is another question:  Is PowerPoint really any different than standing in front of the class talking to them for an entire period?  Sure they have fancy animations, transitions, pictures, and text.  But what is the heart of the instruction??  Yep, someone is talking/reading to students for most of the period.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  With the addition of things like an interwrite pad or personal response system, a PowerPoint can become an interactive lesson instead of a lesson that fills students full of boredom holes courtesy of PowerPoint bullets.

If you would like to learn how interwrite pads, personal response systems, and SIM/CLC strategies could make your PowerPoint a more interactive lesson, please send me an email.

Teaching…art or science?

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Just like the age old rhetorical question of “which came first the chicken or the egg”, the question whether teaching is an art or a science is often debated. No matter which one is believed a person can make a spirited argument and defend his/her position with fervor and facts. I personally feel that teaching is both. I think great teachers have a gift (art) for teaching. They are able to deconstruct concepts into simple parts and explain them in ways that help learners make connections to previously learned material, thus learning the new material. While great teachers possess the gift of teaching to truly become a master teacher they must be grounded in the science of teaching. They must understand how the brain works and learning takes place. They must learn best practices and researched-based (proven) strategies that help learning to take place. While I believe that a teacher can possess the art of teaching or the science of teaching and do a decent job, to truly be the pinnacle of what a teacher needs to be, they must possess both. Which is the most important? I would argue the art because it is innate qualities that people are born with, just as an athlete is born with athletic ability. If a person has the art of teaching they can learn the science. If a person has the science there isn’t a lot they can do to acquire the art.What does this have to do with technology? Absolutely nothing!!! Technology is a tool that teachers use to practice their craft and create valuable learning experiences. Chalk boards, white boards and overhead projectors are technology. They are antiquated in the digital age but that doesn’t mean they are not the best choice at certain times. Technology is not a magical thing that will cause students to learn. If learning is going to take place it is the teacher’s art and science that is going to help it take place. Technology is just another tool for a teacher’s tool box, one that has the potential to create incredible learning experiences.

The teacher is the most important part of any classroom! Everything else is just stuff!! As always I am here to help you integrate the “stuff” into your teaching. So contact me and we can discuss how technology can assist you in your teaching. MB

Servers and such

I think it was someone with the name Murphy who informed us that anything that can go wrong is likely to go wrong. This seems to be a the norm in regard to technology because of the complexity of the machines and networks. I am sure each of us has experienced some form of technology sucker punch in our personal lives ( computer virus, cell phone dropping calls, programing a VCR, DVD, digital recorder, iPod not synching, etc.) I think the probability of something “wrong” occurring increases exponentially when you factor in the sheer number of users interacting with the technology ( over 800 at RMMS and over 1100 at LBHS).

I cannot overstate the importance of backing up teacher and student work onto a secure location. I also, felt the sting of the RMMS server going down and the loss of data. I lost lots of projects and work that I had stored on it. Yep, I am a tech person and I didn’t have everything backed up to another location. While I am upset at the loss of my work it does me no good to dwell on it… what will do me good, is if I remember to back up my work to another location. So I am choosing to be proactive and start backing up my work on a daily basis. I encourage all of you to do the same.

Death of a server, ah but parting is such sweet sorrow…

MB

Welcome

This blog is a place where I can share information related to instructional technology with all of you. Some times there will be information that is general or it may be specific to LBHS or RMMS. I encourage you to read posts and reply or comment on them. I envision this blog as a wonderful way to communicate with each other.