Thursday, March 11, 2010

Selecting Resources

When choosing websites and online resources for classes, a certain amount of preparation and personal judgement is required.

Under no circumstances should resources be presented to a class without the teacher having visited and screened the site for content and structure. Kathy Schrock has an ABC's of Website Evaluation on her website that can provide a good basis for website review. Her list is quite comprehensive and would certainly reflect an ideal resource. Practically, the classroom teacher will need to use personal judgement and weigh benefits against detractions.

Generally, the teacher needs to be aware of additional links, videos, and even advertisements that could be inappropriate for their students. Schools do have filters that block a large amount of inappropriate material, however, things always have a way of sneaking through. Obviously, the content needs to be appropriate and relevant for the lesson that is being explored.

Depending on the age and level of the class, students will percieve information very differently, so care needs to be taken to insure an appropriate response to the resources. For example, if you know that students are particularly sensitive to certain topics, that might not be one that you would want to explore in the less controlled environment of the Internet.

Personally, since I teach older and higher level students, I tend to have expectations of them similar to those of responsible adults. They understand the sometimes unpredictable and inaccurate nature of information that is gathered online. Our school does an exploration of website reliability in the Freshman Seminar class that all freshmen take, and all teachers encourage and model corroboration of information from multiple sources. So, website review has become a bit of the culture that the Internet and Web 2.0 has created, and it should be a consideration within the technology in the classroom.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Yet to be

As we near the end of our adventures in EDU 533 (although, I'm not planning on wrapping this blog, for those of you who may be interested in continuing through my educational/instructional journey), there is one aspect of this whole thing that I feel has been kind of lacking.

Call it an enduring theme, call it a lasting skill, call it essential points, call it whatever you'd like to call it. I'm going to call it an educational philosophy, and I'm not entirely sure that it's been as much of a topic as I would have liked it to be in this course.

We are teachers (or we are going to be teachers). We teach kids. What are we going to teach them? "3rd grade" is the wrong answer. So is "english" or "science" or "math." In my classes, I teach my students how to think critically, solve problems, make decisions, and filter large quantities of information into usable pieces. I happen to teach those things through chemistry, but the chemistry is the least of what I teach. You may teach something else, and that's fabulous! Kids need us to teach them a lot of things. Very often, what we model proves to be one of the most influential forms of instruction. So...just think about it. You don't have to decide right away, but, please, think about what you're teaching.

As we work our way through this multitude of technological tools, I wanted to point out a statement that I remind myself and my colleagues of whenever it is appropriate: Long after they forget what you teach them, they remember how you treat them. The technology is cool, but it's not what we do. It is a tool to help us do what we do, and hopefully help us do what we do better.