One of my favorite teaching strategies from “Teach Like a Champion.” We’ve all been leading discussions and questioning students and had that one student that responded “I don’t know.” The strategy ‘no opt out’ doesn’t allow that “i don’t know” to stand. Instead you do one of a few things that elicit the answer from another student or the whole class and then return to the original student and require that he tell you the answer. If the answer is something that you believe most of the class knows, you elicit it as a group response or call on another student. If it is something more difficult, then break the question into smaller sections that lead to the final answer. For example: After asking a student “what is 2 + 2?” and receiving an ‘i don’t know’, you can ask another student the same question, ask the class the question, or even ask another student “what do we do when we add two numbers?” as a way of getting the original student to the answer.
Ah, but what if the student still says “i don’t know”? Well I’ve never had it happen, but if it does, then you’re dealing with direct insubordination and thus has leapt from an academic problem to a behavioral problem requiring consequences.
So after being at TCEA for several days here’s what I’ve decided. First there’s really nothing new on the hardware front. The exhibit hall was packed with everybody’s version of an interactive whiteboard and the software that went with it. The standard document cameras and student response systems were also around too. The presentations have hit a bit of a plateau as well. For the past several years there’s been an explosion of Web 2.0 and software presentations with new gadgets to wow teachers. I picked up a few new sites, but there was a ton of repetition between presenters.
So where’s the next frontier? Application. For now we’ve been content with presenters showing us the cool site that does that cool thing. Now presenters need to be showing us student examples and how they incorporated the program into a lesson to address TEKS. So I’ll be putting up some of my favorite Web 2.0 applications but also suggesting lessons for those.
One of the problems I’m seeing though with much of the technology offered in the TCEA exhibit hall is that is too teacher centered. I don’t care how flashy some technology is if the teacher is the only one to predominately use it, then students are still “sitting and getting.” My focus is always on technology that students can readily use to create, problem solve, and research. The great thing about student centered technology is that it is usually less expensive (or free). One of my frustrations of late is hearing tech people talk about purchasing high end programs for teachers without considering what students need. There are also others who resist using open source programs because as a colleague of mine said tonight, they, the educrats (education bureaucrats), can’t control those programs nor are the educrats needed to administer or train for those programs.
When looking at technology, especially one that will consume a large amount of taxpayer dollars, ask yourself- is this technology that my students can use or that only I will use to make my “show” at the front of the classroom more flashy?