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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Plan Schman: Teaching in the Digital Classroom

I have recently been pondering my teaching style because I have been rudely forced out of it. During summer school I have a single computer in the room with Internet access, no printer and if I want copies I have to submit a request to the administrative assistant. Though I have a general outline of the events that will take place in my classroom, I have never been a fan of having a daily plan. As long as I know where I want to go, the specific route is of little importance. I will dub this style "Of The Moment" teaching. I am now going to claim ownership of this phrase since a google search resulted in very little information. Most of the sites it brought back add the word spur to the phrase.

Teacher accountability currently demands that teachers turn in syllabi and sometimes even daily lesson plans. If the syllabi is a general outline I see no problem with it, but I don't trust a teacher or curriculum that knows exactly which page of the text the class will be reading on October 12th. Lessons should change according to what was in the paper that morning, detour to answer a questioned posed by student, or emphasize a connection that has been revealed after the 4th time teaching a prep.

For of-the-moment teaching to succeed it needs to virtual and high-speed. Access to information needs to be instantaneous. Ideally each student would have immediate access to this data either on their own computer or through a hand-out printed during class. It also requires a teacher that is not afraid to admit ignorance. In fact the teacher should celebrate ignorance because it is an opportunity to learn. Students that challenge a teacher will make of-the-moment teacher even more successful. Learning is the successive destruction of old ideas and construction of new ones upon their ruins. So a challenge will either make way for innovative thoughts or point our the strengths of the current ones.

Insight is non-existant when you are using tunnel vision. Obviously certain skills need to be instilled with in the students, but of-the-moment teaching allows a teacher to find new pathways to the mind in order to place them there. Traditional methods will always work for some students, but traditional methods have also traditionally missed a good number of them.

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