Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Darren Makes me think

Darren as per usual had a great post a few days ago. He was talking about pedagogy and how it can change. It has changed for Darren. I feel confident in saying that he was an excellent teacher before 2.0 and an even better teacher using 2.0 tools. His thoughts often fall back on this question:

"What can I do now that I could not do before?"

Darren and I are not technology teachers. We teach math using the technology. Well he really teaches math, the high school kind, I teach middle school kids how to be good citizens.... and teach some math as well ;-)

Math is one of those subjects that kids either love or hate. I want to share with them the beauty of math not the 2 x 2 =4 type of math of our past. Using 2.0 tools and the ability of my class to be there 24 hours a day has made math more accessible for students. Why assess them only on tests. They will have enough of those as they progress through high school. I give them projects, Spfractions or UNprojects. The students are learning math but having a good time doing it.

We have dilemmas in our classes. We have the over achievers and the lumps. Using 2.0 projects allows both to do more. Darren in a recent comment said:

Darren said...
Chris & Sophie: Like Chris, I think students enjoy learning this way ... when they apply themselves to it. But I'm also thinking about those students who don't. The ones who sit in class, or in groups, watch through glazed eyes what's going on around them without ever really trying to learn.

I think it is important to celebrate the ability of kids to do excellent work. I have a hard time enriching students education. I am trying to save the ones with "glazed eyes" too much. Doing these projects lets students set their own standards and goals. The best go further than you ever could imagine and the other extreme..... they either do something instead of the ususal nothing or don't do anything at all.

When I first heard about Darren's Developing Expert Voices I knew this was a great idea. I created my version Spfractions or UNprojects and the results speak for themselves. Kids excel and participate in math speaking and communicating a difficult subject. I have tried math journals before but kids did not do them with any feeling. Their projects have feeling and voices too.

Darren also comments

Just today a colleague from across the hall shared with me how some of her students are trying to figure out a way to take a math class next year where they won't have to blog ... anything to avoid blogging. I contrast that with what my students are writing in the reflections at the end of their Developing Expert Voices projects where many of them say they have learned more than they thought they were able. Many say they were unable to do the material when it was covered in class but after doing their projects they have mastered it.

I know some of these students. They "hear about" blogging and complain. This is just what students do. As teachers we have to show them the power of their work. Sell them on the idea that blogging and online projects enhance their learning. You are going to be doing homework, don't you want to do homework that is "different" and fun.

The last bit of Darren's post that resonated with me was the following:

But you know, we don't really need these new tools to improve our teaching. We need to ask different questions. Not "What is 6 times 4?" but "How many ways can you multiply two numbers to get 24?" Not "Are there seasons on Mars?" but "What season is it right now on Mars? Is there any time of the year you could comfortably wear a t-shirt and shorts on Mars?" Not "List the parts of a cell." but "Design your own version of a cell that efficiently takes in food and excretes waste? Include a diagram of all the parts and describe how they work together."

Students need a reason to come to school. They need a reason to learn. When we ask the right questions and give them the tools to be creative in answering them, they will want to be in our building LEARNING. Once you have them..... you can go anywhere.

Take a risk, let them learn their way. You will go further than you think.

1 comment:

Darren Kuropatwa said...

Amen. We can't expect students to take risks in their learning if we don't model it in our teaching.

Feeling a little more positive today. An old student who was in my class last year and left to attend another school dropped in on me today. She's coming back to DMCI. In her words, "The work we have to do there is too easy. I'm not learning as much as I can here." It was a real shot in the arm ... and provided an interesting contrast to those students at DMCI who are trying to avoid blogging (serious learning?) at any cost. ;-)