"Practice Makes Possible"

When moving to a student-centered classroom philosophy, teachers often find that students resist or are unsure how to use their device as an educational tool.

  • How can we teach students to learn by using technology?
  • How can we teach them to demonstrate their mastery/understanding when they aren't given explicit requirements?

As I reflect on these questions, it becomes evidently clear that if students do not know how to use their devices as an educational tool, it is because they have not been show how to do so. In my training sessions with David Langford, he points out that "98% of the results you see, come directly from the system itself." This means, it is not a people problem, it is a "systems problem." Thinking bigger picture...If students do not have the technology skills they need, then it is likely due to the fact that something needs improvement in the system itself. Perhaps it is the system of how teachers are receiving technology instruction themselves, or the system that supports the teachers in the delivery and follow-through of their lesson planning with technology. "If you change nothing, nothing will change." This quote hangs in my office as a daily reminder that if I want to see different results, then I need to change something in order to get there! So...if your students do not have the skills they need, then we need to change something about our instruction and quickly get to work!

Growing up, I remember always hearing the saying "Practice Makes Perfect." A few years ago I spoke to a wise colleague who said, "Practice Makes Possible!" To create a student-centered classroom, we must constantly MODEL for our students and have them practice the skills it takes to be self-directed learners. Students can't just magically be self-directed learners. They can't just magically know how to use their iPad in an educational way. So what do we do? We model the skills that we want them to practice. For example, if we want them to collaborate with each other in Google Docs...the first step is to have them collaborate with YOU in Google Docs! Repetition is key to the learning process, therefore; we must provide opportunities for the students to practice collaboration on a digital device. If they practice and get good at this skill, it makes it possible for us to take this skill to the next level! So...how do we teach them to learn by using technology? We repetitively model and practice! Do you want them to digitally research? If so, show them how to digitally research! Do you want them to create interactive presentations? If so, show them how to create interactive presentations! Don't just assume that the students know how because they are "digital natives."

In teaching, we need to "Walk the walk, and talk the talk!" If you ask students to use use a video editing software to make a movie, then you better plan on knowing how to use that software before you take them to the lab! Know the in's and out's of any product that you ask students to use, because it is imperative that you model the correct way they should be using it! Don't just take the students to the lab and say, "make a movie." Students should come with a pre-planned story map & research that has been previewed and approved for publishing by you! If the students know the content you are expecting, showing them the product they plug it into is easy! In addition, we should definitely advocate giving students "voice and choice" in their assignments, and in order to make this happen it is critical that they understand the standards by which they will be assessed once they have completed their chosen project.

Clifford's Tech Tip of The Day:

Be clear.
Be knowledgeable.
Model, Model, Model...because "Practice Makes Possible!"

cross-posted at cliffordtechnologycoach.blogspot.com

Kelly Clifford is the Technology Coordinator for Metropolitan School District of Steuben County, Indiana. Read more at her blog cliffordtechnologycoach.blogspot.com