Friday, March 02, 2007

Lesson in the Yellow Needlenose Pliers

Some of my favorite things I am reading these days are right from the classrooms of the CFTF teachers here in PA. Ken Rodoff posted that he was in the midst of a Wikipiphany. He had given his class an assignment to use the Teacher's First WikiWalkthrough and then "teach" a group of teachers about wikis during a "mock conference". As soon as the assignment was given, the kids turned to the computers to create PowerPoints. I had 2 thoughts when reading about his lesson and the way kids responded...
1. What a fantastic expression of 21st Century skills....they turned to the computers to collaborate, to be more efficient.
2. Why did they go first to powerpoint when you had given them a new tool that they could have used to present?

It reminded me of a great article I once read...from the Journal of Computing in Teacher Education called The Lesson in the Yellow-Handled, Needle-Nosed Pliers

From that article
"So, while we fill the toolboxes of our future and practicing teachers and
arm them with the knowledge to use the tools for educational purposes,
let’s go a step further to assist them in organizing those toolboxes so that
their knowledge and skills are easy to access when needed. I’ll bet you know
how to swing a hammer, but knowing when a hammer is necessary and
when the job calls instead for a wrench requires some knowledge in context
and perhaps a bit of problem solving. Perhaps we make it too easy on our
teachers. We teach them about using a tool, such as spreadsheet software,
and then give them an assignment using that same software. The result is
that they become good at following directions, but they lack the critical
knowledge of when to use which tools and for what reasons. Unfortunately,
no one will follow them through their careers, standing over their shoulders
to recommend which tools will extend their teaching for any given lesson."
Are we doing the same things to our students? How many teachers are assigning the kids to do a creative project but requiring them to use power point, iMovie, and not allowing them to develop the skills of determining the best way to present this information themselves? OR because they are the digital natives, will they figure this out for themselves...

1 comment:

  1. The skill to determine the best way to present information is crucial, and, to be quite honest, lacking.

    Perhaps it is in my new role as C4F Coach, or all just a part of my wikipihany, but students use technolgoy that they are comfortable with without any real meaningful thought as to why they are using a resource.

    Students use PowerPoint incorrectly as they find themselves bullet-pointing information as they find it; never once considering the purpose of the application or their intended message to an audience.

    The most important question a teacher can ask a student at any point in the learning process is: why?

    Better yet, we better start asking that of ourselves.