Back to Basics: Teaching Info Tech Results in Students Teaching Me

Ah, Cohort, where have you been all my life? It’s been far too long since I’ve posted to this blog. As Neil Young would say, “It came to me in a dream…”: I NEED TO START BLOGGING! So much is happening despite the fact we are about to finish only our third week of teaching at L.C.S.

Although I’m excited to be teaching Grade 12 and AP Prep English again, in all honesty the course that is proving challenging and exciting is the BTT Info Technology course that I’m teaching for the first time. New challenges are healthy, and after my Cohort 21 experience last year, it seemed like a great opportunity to take. I’m co-teaching the half-year course with a fellow Cohort-Alum, Su Armstrong. What’s most surprising is how much I’m enjoying teaching grade 9 students! Although I have 23 of them in a room, the challenge of classroom management, keeping students engaged, and challenging digital natives to learn in new ways is always tough, this first month has been awesome!

Here’s what I’ve discovered thus far:

1. There is nothing new under the sun: yes, some tools are new to students, but one thing remains true: the curiosity of students and their motivation to discover is always the most powerful tool in my ‘tool-box’. Rather than showing them step by step how to accomplish a goal, I’ve shown them what an end product might look like, and they are thrilled to figure it out on their own.

2. They have better ideas than me! Encourage students to share short cuts, tech-hacks, create an atmosphere of sharing and respect for new ideas.

3. Using technology to promote collaborative learning is moving my assignments up the SAMR model. Students are sharing ideas, researching together, yet coming to their own conclusions through sharing Google Docs, Padlets, and YouTube.

What’s next? I want students to learn to be proper digital citizens. Taking the next step might be towards Twitter, although at this grade level I’ll need to think about it some more. I”m excited by something our colleague Derek Doucet is doing. He is creating a Google Hangout with his French class and a writer that the students are studying from an online resource. How can I transfer that type of authentic dialogue into a grade 9 Technology class?

Below you will I’ve posted a video of my large class working on learning the art of the blog. They are learning how to add to their Reading List, personalize their blog to make it match their personality, and discovering how to add content. You will notice if you look closely that they are helping eachother more than I’m able to help any individual student. Instructions are on the board, and they are continually having challenges and then solving them. Engagement is relatively high, and the room has a positive and enthusiastic vibe (for the most part:) Students will use their blogs to reflect on their learning, make authentic connections between content and the outside world, and to learn how to be responsible digital citizens.

Looking forward to the upcoming year Cohort-ers!


2 thoughts on “Back to Basics: Teaching Info Tech Results in Students Teaching Me

  1. Hi Brent,
    What a great post, and a great reminder of why teach, and how we can teach. I love your list of 3 – particularly how they emphasize giving up control in the classroom to your students. BTT is a course ripe for that approach, and it seems like you’re nailing it. Remember, the student-centred classroom is HEAVILY teacher oriented. That is, as a teacher, you set up the opportunties for students to do these collaborative, creative and critically thoughtful exercise.

    Nice blog!

  2. Hurley!

    I have to say, as much flack as I give you about your lack of blogging, you always bring your A-game when you finally do. Love the post and I had a bit of a chuckle while watching the video.


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