Technology in the Classroom… Who is the Teacher?


In reading Lankshear and Knobel’s first chapter several things went through my mind. The article discussed new literacies and different ways they are viewed. One of the first pieces that stood out to me was when @batcheloro responded to this quote from the article, “Understanding literacies from a sociocultural perspective means that reading and writing can only be understood in the context of social, cultural, political, economic, historical practices to which they are integral, of which they are a part…”. @batcheloro stated that “In other words, you must “do” these things (or immerse yourself however possible) in order to acquire a full understanding.”. This stood out to me because this is how I like to teach.  

As a teacher you recognize that students learn more when they immerse themselves into a topic. For instance when I was teaching economics to my first grade class not only did I teach them the vocabulary but they also did chores at home to earn money to open a pizza restaurant in school. They discussed why people would want to come to their restaurant, what should they sell. By the end of the unit they could tell you what a good and service was and they had experience creating a good/service and trying to sell that good/service.

That is also how I view this class. We are not just reading an article but we are discussing it, finding something in the article that interests us and going deeper with it, and we are creating new literacies. I had never used photoshop until yesterday. We are immersing ourselves in what we are learning.   Link to @batcheloro’s response.

A second thing this response made me think of is technology in the classroom. Which is what interested me and what I delved into. I took a class last summer that was one day long, it was called Technology in the Classroom. I took this class thinking I would master different apps and websites that I could then bring into my classroom in the fall. I was wrong. The instructor covered different apps and websites but only spent 10 to 15 minutes on each one. By the time lunch hit I was overwhelmed, so I went and talked to her. I said how am I supposed to teach these tools to my students when I do not know how to use them myself? She told me to pick one or two I wanted to used and play around with them. She then asked me a questions “Who do you think is better with technology you or your students?” I responded with my students, so she said why not have your students teach the class. She stated that she was one of the first teachers of a class in Jeffco to get one to one ipads. She was so overwhelmed she did not know what to do, but one day a student showed her how to use an app. When this happened it hit her that she did not need to be an expert on every app, the students in her classroom knew how to figure out technology better than her so why not have them help.

She assigned a project and the first part of the project was to find a digital tool to help you complete the project. They then had to share with the class why they were using that tool. Students became the experts on the technology. She would still teach the content but the students were the experts on the digital tools. Hearing this made me relax. I thought about it I now teach first grade but I did my student teaching in sixth grade. The sixth graders I taught new how to do things on twitter, snapchat that I had no idea existed, and I thought I was part of the young crowd being in my early twenties.

So to get back to the point with all these new literacies out there you are never going to know them all or be able to immerse yourself in every single one. So use your students background knowledge and do not be afraid to not know everything. A great example of this is an article I found about  Upside Down Academy . Their goal was for students to do both the teaching and learning in a way that was meaningful to them. “By turning the school paradigm upside we aimed to create opportunities for students to explore teaching and learning in a new and remixed way. Central to our vision was for students to publicly share their own understanding, thus fostering authentic dialogue about what they learned.” Students created videos to teach their classmates about something.

One of the recommended reading this week also delved into this topic. Open Digital Pedagogy discussed classes like the one we are taking now. Where students take charge of their learning finding things they are interested in and sharing them publicly. Where the professor is the instructor but also learn and creates alongside the students. The article discusses this at a college level but what about at an elementary level? My students have never know life without a touch screen, I did not get a computer in my house until I was in middle school. (I was raised by hippies who did not see the need for computers) They are going to be able to understand and manipulate technology in ways I cannot.

To wrap this up and get back to Lankshear and Knobel’s first chapter we need to be literate in the new literacies. The definition for literate is to be able to read and write. I see it that we need to be able to create and understand the digital tools our students use but we do not need to be experts in them.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. dogtrax says:

    It is important that we dive deep, and not just skim the surface of apps and technology. Most Tech PD is the skimming kind … let me jam a bunch of stuff into your head .. good luck! But, just like our students (I teach sixth grade, too), we need to time to dive in, explore, remix, re-engineer the tech for our own reasons, and then consider the possibilities for our students. And then, allow them the same. I always give “play time” with new technology — permission to explore, break, fix — before refocusing on the learning experience.
    Thanks for the great post


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