When I was in my high school math class I remember how empty and bare the room was. We had tables and chairs; Nothing, but the teacher at the front of the room, with an overhead projector trying to stimulate a thought; there wasn’t any windows either. The funny thing was this was my favorite teacher. I can feel the warehouse affect still today when I walk into a n undecorated classroom and I feel bad for students that have to attend that room everyday. I think the environment speaks volumes and the students are listening. (This is such a strong reaction that I have that I offered to do bulletin boards for the teachers that haven’t done it yet. I have also put paper on all the bulletin boards in the hallway with plans to finish with a positive message.) Our classes were typical give and assignment, grade and return with a test at the end of the chapter. The red writing on the returned assignments were so depressing, I could only see what was wrong and that I wasn’t perfect. I never gave the math a second thought after I completed the assignment. Purdue University states in their article, The Evolution of Technology in the Classroom, “The first portable computer, in 1981, weighed 24 pounds and cost $1,795.” It is amazing how far technology has come since the first portable computer.
Technology was limited in the ‘70s. We were just coming out of the 8 tracks and enjoying recording on cassettes and we still purchased Lps. We had radio or music over the loudspeaker on occasions. We had one computer my senior year. It was pointed out to me from the hallway. I watched, from 20 feet out, another student stare at the screen. I didn’t experience a computer until my third job out of high school.
My classroom, like I had in high school, has tables and chairs too. I work at hanging posters relevant to the content of the chapter we are covering. I try to color code my work so the students can relate the concepts together. I use a Mimio view projector for teaching with videos that myself or another teacher created. My classroom also has surround sound for the videos or music (Pandora). I can use a microphone if I need to.
My students have laptops to do some of their assignments, quizzes and tests. I still do worksheets though. I reserve it for purpose of help the students feel confident in what they know. If I feed them a handful at a time they don’t get over whelmed. I also have them grade their own papers. I learned a lot about what my students needed to learn when I graded their paper, so, I gave that learning experience to them. They have another chance to learn if they miss understood the concept or instructions. Some of the students assume that I am wrong and argue their point. I love it. I quickly make the grade sheet for the purpose of making an error that they can catch. It is amazing how thought provoking this is. It creates great dialogue.
Technology has changed my classroom and has freed my time for more analysis of the students work. My assignments on computer have immediate feedback to the students. We took a quiz today and the students didn’t like not being able to fix the error they made. So, the students’ “perfect assignments” on the computer is great feedback, but their quizzes tell what they know and what I have to teach. It is amazing to already have the quiz grades and move right into the data. These quiz result will control what bell ringers we will have to do in class next week. In the book A New Culture of Learning, they mention how to explore like watching a petri dish. I have a “controlled conditions, with very limited foreknowledge of what will result.” I’m not quite sure how the students will do this year with a computer on their desks. I’m trying to balance it with the textbook, but the quick feedback to the students is great. I need to improve the quantity and quality of the problems in the computer so the students can have more practice. Technology has changed dramatically in the last 34 years.
Thomas, D. & Brown, J.S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change [Kindle book]. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Purdue University. The Evolution of Technology in the Classroom. online.purdue.edu