Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Reflection on Chris Harbeck's Presentation: Release the Hounds

"Don't hold your students back."

This simple quote by Chris Harbeck in his K12 Online Conference presentation is one of the hardest concepts to get many teachers to buy into. I find the most successful teachers who truly leverage technology to improve student engagement on a cognitive level provide their students options in how they demonstrate their learning. All too often, teachers do not want to allow their students to use tools they do not know themselves. Let your students learn tools that excite them. They will teach you and their classmates how they use them in their learning. Chris Harbeck demonstrated this beautifully with specific examples from his classroom.

I remember a conversation I had last year with one of the teachers in my building as she started using wikis in her classroom. She was excited about the learning that was taking place in her classroom and the excitement the students demonstrated in their learning. As she mentioned this, she also mentioned that she felt strangely about it since she "wasn't teaching" (in a traditional sense).

My question to her was a simple, "Are the students learning?"

Her quick reply, "yes and more."

Teachers need to provide freedom to their students to take ownership of their learning. This doesn't necessarily mean just sending them off to their laptops to randomly do work while the teacher corrects prior student work at her desk. Students need clear guidelines of what you expect from their work and guidance of how to get there. As the students progress in their work have them teach you the tools they are using to demonstrate their learning. We can all learn more this way.

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Image: 'Push The Button'

1 comment:

Mr. H said...

The second round of unprojects are coming at spunproject08.pbwiki.com. It will be interesting to see what the students do this year. Once again the only rule was to have a simple wiki page explaining the math and then.....

Go and do whatever you want. The due date is right before exams so this should be an excellent exam review. Thanks for the mention.

Kids do amazing things when THEY are in charge of their learning.