Sunday, April 21, 2013

Top 10 Ideas

My top 10 ideas:

10:  Technology is just another tool:  Technology is not the be all and end all of education or teaching.  It is just a tool like the pencil, blackboard and overhead projector.  Technology must be used and implemented with a purpose.  Technology can increase our productivity, expand our reach, open up new worlds and even entertain us.  But, technology in and of itself does not make a compelling learning experience all by itself for very long.

9:  The physical school building and class room are not necessarily the best places to learn:  Tear the roof off and kick down the walls.  Most schools resemble prisons in more than just appearances.  Open up the world for your students.  Let them explore outside the classroom.  Bring the outside world into the classroom.  Build bridges to the world outside your classroom, the world in which our students will live the rest of their lives.  Students can learn a lot from interacting with people outside of school.  Teachers are not the only ones who can teach.

8:  Step back and take a look around.  Lift your head and look around you!  Most teachers have tunnel vision focused on our jobs and our students.  We need to force ourselves to step back reflect and observe the world outside our schools if we truly want to make our schools a better place to learn and work.  The industrial revolution is over.  The factory model has to change.

7: We can't teach in isolation: But most of us do!  Teaching is a lonely profession.  Most of us are isolated in our own little classroom usually a 30' X 30' space with 20 to 30 students and very little interaction with other adults.  We may eat lunch with other teachers but it's a 20 minute choke it down lunch.  When do we get to talk with other professionals in our own profession let alone talk to people in jobs outside of education or experts/specialists in the fields we teach.  Never, hardly ever?  We need to find time to get out and learn from others and recharge our own batteries.  

6: Make it real:  Relate it to the real world.  Kids can see through the act.  They need to know why they are being asked to learn something and the value it holds to them. Have your students focus on real problems/questions and new designs.  Let them own the process.

5:  The Hook:  You get about 10 to 15 seconds to get their attention.  If you don't it is going to be a long semester.  You have to have something the is going to grab their attention and give them some kind of a real interest in what you are teaching.  A problem or a task that grabs their attention and is repeated periodically through out the class to keep them focused on the outcome.

4:  Creativity; The key to keeping their attention:  Creating and designing a solution to the problem. (or related to the hook) is the way to keep their attention.  When students are allowed to design and create their own solutions to the problem they become captivated by the process.  They do the reading, they do the research, they do the writing and they create and design their own solutions to the problem.  The problem/product or question needs to be real. Not something made up for the class without a real application or demonstration.

3:  Public performance as the test:  Students need to be able to present their work in a public forum.  The teachers in box provides anonymity.  It's to easy to hide the garbage.  Provide students with a public forum to present their work.  Either a digital portfolio or a live audience.  My students work has improved dramatically since the whole world is watching.  

2: Take a chance / Opportunity:   To often we let opportunities pass us by.  Take a chance.  Try something new.  I'm so glad I did.  Know one in their right mind would agree to take 10 students have way around the world to search for missing airplanes from WWII, would they?

1: Passion:  Follow your passion.  The kids can see through people going through the motion pretty darn fast as can everyone else.  If your not loving it maybe you should find something else to do.  You'll never become financially rich teaching but I am happy sharing my passion for underwater robotics, World War II history and searching for missing aircraft.  Just think all this because of one phone call from someone else thinking outside the box.

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