One of the fun things about teaching a class of undergraduates is to watch their excitement grow when thinking about their future classrooms. One of the challenges is, what do they NEED to know! How can I prepare them for an ever changing classroom and world. Expectations for teachers are always growing and seem to stifle the creativity of students and teachers alike. We are now sitting at Midterm of an eight week session, and I am looking at where we have been and where we are going.
The class is "Computers and Instructional Technology" and it is an undergraduate class for future teachers. So far this term, we have learned about learning theorists, software evaluation, CyberSafety, Assistive Technology, Blogs, and had countless conversations on what constitutes good classrooms. We created an educational video and used Web 2.0.
Here are some fundamentals for me --
1- I didn't 'teach' them Google Docs... I used Google Docs for part of a lesson, the students had to log on and complete a working definition of Constructivist and Behaviorist (which I think some of the blog commenters should perhaps take a refresher from). The students collaboratively came up a working definition and they "learned" how to use GoogleDocs in the process.
2- As has been documented several times, we brought in experts using Skype. In those experiences they learned from the best people in their field....and they also 'learned' Skype and the power of social networks because that is where I found my experts!
3- We evaluated software first using the rubric in the book and then through discussion and expert, Sylvia Martinez. The true power of this assignment came in an unexpected way! Because of a Twitter conversation, Dr. Gary Stager weighed in on my blog post which helped me to review my practice. When I had my students read all the comments, they also reviewed my practice. Honestly, have students reflect on practice is the BEST thing I think I can reinforce.
4- We made an educational movie. Did the students learn how to create professional video? No. What they did learn was the process of brainstorming (using Inspiration). They learned the importance of storyboarding as a means of organization and a MUST for students. Mostly I think they learned that creating visual representations is a very powerful learning tool.
5- Wednesday, my students learned the WebQuest strategy. They learned it by doing one I developed which asks if the Internet should be filtered. Then they are taught the six steps of a WebQuest through direct instruction. In my teaching career, the highest order of thinking skills have been developed through the WebQuest strategy and it is fun to share that.
6. Students created their own media for use in their classroom. It always interesting what students develop!
7- Still to come in the term is a "How to do PowerPoint well" component including a presentation from each student. The main criteria is that the students in the classroom must be engaged. We will try VoiceThread because it comes so highly recommended. We will develop lessons that incorporate technology. There is much more to come, that I won't mention.....
8- My biggest dream and struggle is that I want to create powerful teachers who effectively use technology to reach students. What I want most is to create a hunger for these future teachers to always reach for new strategies and tools to reach students. I want their classrooms to always be a place of discovery and creation! I have an undying passion for learning and I want to share that.
What do future teachers need to know to be successful?