For one of his classes, Dean Shareski is asking students to interview teachers who are also intentional about being learners. I just finished responding to one student’s questions and thought I’d post my answers here. Thanks to Chantelle for the great questions!
How do you go about getting your students on the right track with using the technological tools you want them to make use of? (Slow release, direct instruction, free exploration, etc.?)
I use all of the above. Usually 4-5min of modeling the basics of whatever they need to get them started and then work by themselves or with partners as I walk around the room available for troubleshooting/questions. Occasionally, we’ll have time to free explore- I’ll direct them to a site or sites and ask them to give me feedback on how/if they think those sites might be useful in the classroom.
Do you tend to spend a larger amount of time at the beginning of the year to get them on-board or is it slowly taught as the year goes on?
We definitely spend time at the beginning of the year establishing a routine when it comes to tech. Because students use their tablets every day, they get into a pattern pretty quickly. Those first few weeks of schools though can be a little painful :) I just have to remind myself that by the end of the year they will be light years ahead of where they are at the beginning of the year. I find it’s helpful to identify students who are already proficient with a task or program and appoint them (either formally or informally) as apprentices to help other students.
What parameters do you set for student use of computers during class time? Do you find students are typically on-task and efficient or is this something you have had to teach in order for it to be effective?
It varies from student to student. Students are using their computers pretty consistently throughout class. If I notice students appear checked out and involved with something on their screen, I’ll ask them to put their PC in tablet mode (with their screens flat). I also occasionally ask them to flip their screens around (facing me) if we’re having a discussion. In general, I’m not super-strict because I find most students are “with” me the majority of the time.
In what ways does the use of technology further your professional development?
Most of the deeply valuable professional development I’ve experienced has either occurred online or has been spurred by relationships I first developed online. The English Companion Ning has been a great place for me to get in-depth feedback on issues or questions. Twitter has been a useful resource for bouncing ideas off people and sharing and getting resources.