Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Blogpost #4: How Has Teaching and Learning Changed?

the words technology and innovation written on a blackboard

       How has teaching changed since I was in school? EVERYTHING has changed. At least, there exist the possibilities and opportunities for things to change. Of course this is directly related to the training a teacher has and her willingness to break out of the box and take on the challenge.
       I went to primary and secondary school in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I came back to college in January of 2010. I had a lot of catching up to do in this new world of technology that I was now swimming in. I was capable of running my retail POS program at work. I could surf the net but did not realize that there was any tool other than Internet Explorer to do this with. I was a rookie at social sites such as MySpace and Facebook. I realized that if I was going to be a teacher in today’s classroom that I had a lot to learn and that I was going to have to change my views of what teaching is. I could not have a vision of my future as a teacher based on any of my previous classroom experiences.
       When I was in school nearly every class that I can remember was 100% lecture based. The only regular deviation from this was my science classes that included labs. This is probably one of the reasons that science was always my favorite subject and the reason why I have chosen it for my teaching career. Before I learned anything about PBL, I described science classes as fun to teach and participate in because the kids get to go to labs and put their hand on something tangible that ties together visually what they have been learning. If all classes were like this I think failure rates would greatly improve. Now I’ll take you back to my classroom experience in all classes but science lab. Teachers wrote on blackboard with chalk. Rarely did you see a dry erase board and a Smartboard was not even a notion. We had no computers in the classroom. I do remember a computer lab but that was essentially to learn the basics of DOS. Windows did not exist. Teachers lectured. They might occasional borrow a DVD player from the library to show a movie. They even had to borrow overhead projectors to use transparencies to enhance their lectures. We thought transparencies were high-tech. We wrote a lot of term papers, did a lot of oral presentations with posters for visual aids and took a lot of tests based on lecture material. I only remember I collaborative project in which I was teamed up with one other student to present a research paper. We did use music to enhance our presentation and we passed around photos for the students to look at.
       Teachers today have so many tools at their disposal to make teaching better. iCurio, Discovery Ed, Brain Pop, youtube, technology based interactive games plus endless other choices help to make the learning experience interesting. PBL is another step up to make it even better. With PBL your resources are only as limited as your imagination. PBL takes the chore out of learning core standards. Students get to explore, use their imaginations, have fun with technology that they already love to use and in the end learn without even realize that they are learning.
       I had the opportunity to talk to a seasoned teacher today about PBL and I asked her if she was using it in her classroom. She told me that they did projects but only after teaching the standards and only as a way for the students to show what they had learned. I asked her why she did not use them to teach the standards instead of only at the end. She told me that PBL would never work as a means for teaching standards because different students learn in different ways and that there would be no way for them all to be able to learn what they needed to know from PBL. My question is how do we get teachers on board with PBL? I wanted to convince her that PBL does work but I just didn’t know how.  This teacher has a 97% proficiency rating and is considered an innovative teacher. My other question is; how can all teachers, in all schools take advantage of all of these great teaching tools and implement them into using PBL if the basic implements are not provided in his or her classroom by the school system. Inequality in what is available to our teachers and students seems to be a major problem for us as teachers to move forward and use all of this wonderful information and skills that we are learning her in the EDM 510 class. It is great that Anthony has so many resources that he can use and that he has wonderful administrators that allow him the freedom to use his talents to conduct his classroom by using PBL. This brings me to my next question: are all administrators ready for teachers to use PBL? Are they going to give their teachers the freedom that Anthony has? How does a teacher go about creating this kind of change in her school and the way traditionalist think?
       I tried to use ALEX to find appropriate standards for writing this essay. I do not feel that I ever found anything satisfactory. I could go to courses of study, choose Language Arts, then choose grade 12 and scan for standards or lessons. I found information on writing essays but not essays for blogs. The only thing that I found that gave any instruction on writing a blog was a link to All that it contained was a brief and basic blogging information sheet about what a student could do with a blog and proper blog etiquette. It definitely does not contain appropriate standards for writing and essay for a blog.


  1. "My question is how do we get teachers on board with PBL?" This requires a longer answer that I will provide here. Decision to implement PBK. Leadership and insistence. New hires. Retraining. Workshops. Exemplary teachers. Student pressure. Patience. Baldwin County has instituted the DRLA. It is the second year. Progress is being made. There is much left to do. Not every teacher will be retrained. Most will.Only already trained will be hired. That is why I have changed the focus of EDM310. And now 510.

    About the standards. I use blogs for three reasons:
    1. Practice writing
    2. Create an opportunity for a real audience which usually produces better writing
    3. Experience with the technology and with blogs.

    The writing standards are a start. So are the use of technology standards.

    Thoughtful. Interesting. Filled with questions which is a very good thing. Very well done!

  2. Thank you, Dr Strange, for your very informative comment!