A change in teacher thinking

This was originally posted on SamandEliz, but I’ve moved it over to Future Schooling

I just got back from facilitating a writing & technology workshop; this followed on the heels of a Homework and Practice (Marzano, Pickering, Pollock, 2001) session I facilitated on Marratech. After an hour-long session talking about the research on homework & practice, the teachers were given the following blogging assignment: If you had access to any and unlimited resources you needed and were given the task of creating the “Perfect Homework Program for the 21st Century” that pleased teachers, students, and parents, what would the program look like?

From both of these sessions come these quotes from participants. (Some of these are from evaluations, which are anonymous for obvious reasons; therefore I couldn’t credit the source.) The quotes from the homework & practice blog have been OK’d by the blogger (thank you!) and credited.

(Brian Crosby) I would have a wireless laptop for each student to use at school and take home each day. Stories, blog posts and other written or media assignments that they would work on at school would therefore be available for them to work on at home as well as the ability to communicate to others in their class, group or anywhere in the world to discuss their work. If students wanted to work on school work at home because they wanted to or were especially motivated by what they were working on or learning about this would give them that opportunity. Since I have unlimited resources I would hire retired teachers and pre-service teachers to be “online mentors” for students. Using Skype or some other online video communication software these mentors could touch-base with students that didn’t have significant adults available to help with homework, read with them or discuss the day’s events.

(Krista Anderson) The “Perfect Homework Program” for the 21st century would be technology based and paperless. How great it would be if every child had computer access or a laptop to work on at home. Instead of bringing in paper they could e-mail their assignments or carry them in on disk. Homework assignments would still include the essential Reading, Math, and Spelling as well as reinforcement of the day’s lessons, but only done without paper. If every student had access to his or her own computer he or she could then have assignments where they were required to do on-line research and to use some of the websites we have learned about in this class.

(Bonnie Vogler) The homework program would involve every child having access to her/his own computer at home. Each child would have a computer at school so the machine would not have to come back and forth. Each child would have a zip drive to carry back and forth any information they needed to take from school to home and back again….We would have a class website and blog for students to communicate with each other and with other teachers for help. There would be links on the website to choose from on the main goals of reading and math progress, however, there would be other links for science, ss, art, music, literature, handwriting practice poems to download and print, math puzzles, etc to engage them. As feedback students and parents would receive the current progress chart of the reading time, reading level, fluency, and math facts on each child on a weekly basis. The charts would also include what is at benchmark as well as below and above for the grade level so students and parents know the grade level comparison.

(Amanda Ferris) Each student would have a laptop to take home withthem to assist in thier homework, and/or allow them to look into other aspect of the computer world, like the internet, typing skills, researching, etc. Ofcourse, these laptops would go back and forth between home and school and be used over and over again throughout the years. Imagine how great the laptops would work with a writing project too!

(Comments following the Writing & Tech workshop)

“This would impact my students more if we had more access to computers and more time working (we have 1/2 hr per wk). In a perfect world, my classroom technology would include interactive boards and projectors and laptops for my students.”

“These are all great ideas and websites. They will be excellent tools when there is available technology in our schools to actually put them to use.”

“It would be very helpful and effective if every student had his/her own computer during class time, not just during computer time.”

“It would help more if each student had access to a computer during each class.”

“Information for me was beneficial; however, with the limited access we have…I don’t see this as something that I can use to the fullest extent.”

What grabbed my attention as I read these statements is that, at one time, when we talked about districts implementing 1-1 laptop initiatives, it was with awe that a school system would attempt something so luxurious. These quotes come from teachers in all areas of the spectrum of tech integration in their classrooms. Even those who were once hesitant to see the power of Web resources, Web 2.0, educational games, etc., now are seeing the absolute need for each student to have access to these tools. Are we reaching a tipping point where years of conversations among “techies” are becoming understood and, in some cases, improved by educators outside the edtech blogosphere?

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