Monday, June 5, 2017

Transitioning from Teacher-Based to Teacher-Facilitated Learning with Technology (Guest Post - Ken Cooper)

This is in a series of posts by teachers in the TUSD Connect Fellowship for the 2016-2017 school year.  I hope you enjoy reading their reflections on the impact of technology in their classroom, specific tools and strategies that have made a positive impact on teaching and learning, and their goals moving forward.

For me this year technology has impacted my classroom by making me more efficient and taken off the load of having to be the source of information transfer to the students.  Technology has also improved quality of learning as well as the teaching process itself, making it easier to check understanding of ideas and concepts that were once too difficult to check in the traditional manner (verbally or with quizzes).

In the past, my use of technology had been limited to using Haiku as a discussion board and an avenue to take auto-graded multiple choice tests.  I had briefly dabbled in Google Classroom, but underutilized the potential it had.  By becoming involved with the Tech Fellowship, I have gained the confidence to try new tools that I would in all likelihood never have sought out and tried on my own. If it had not been for the Tech Fellowship, I feel the students in my class would have not have been exposed to the same learning environment.  I am truly glad that I took the chance to enter into this program.

Technology has put the learning into the hands of the students in the form of sites beyond that of the old standards of Google and Wikipedia.  Now students have immediate access to tools such as GoFormative, Quizizz, and Edpuzzle (click the links for sample lessons / assignments used).  These tools allow students to gain knowledge either on their own or through collaborative learning - providing students of different learning styles and preferences access to the material. In addition, I have used Haiku discussions in class allowing all students the ability to enter into a class discussion regardless of their public speaking comfort level. Lastly, Google Forms is an easy way to collect data from students on how they perceive the value and effectiveness of a lesson or concept, especially a new way of introducing a topic.

One specific lesson I'd like to share revolves around a hyperdoc my coach and I created about the most important Supreme Court cases that Earl Warren had a part in deciding. The hyperdoc walks you through the 5 tasks that students engaged in over the course of 3 class days.

The goal of this assignment was to expose the students to historic Supreme Court cases that have an impact on our lives as a whole, both through rights of the accused as well as free speech issues.  Students know of their rights but assume that these rights, lawyer, remaining silent, evidence obtained from illegal searches being inadmissible have always been the case.   
By organizing the assignment this way, students understand the time frame in which so many iconic Supreme Court decisions were rendered.  They are amazed that these rights they take for granted were argued and decided less than 60 years ago.

Looking Forward...
Next year I would like to start to emphasize and use hyperdocs more to create more long term assignments of more than just a day or two allowing deeper understanding of the impact both short and long term in the material covered in CP US History. I've already started to work on one with my coach about US Foreign Policy over time. It is still a work in progress (I'm prepping it for next year), but you can check out what I have so far here.

Looking Back
I cannot begin to state how effective this fellowship has been on my teaching.  I went from someone who would not use certain lessons that fellow teachers would use because I was unfamiliar with technology or a techno-phobe.  I was leary of using technology solely for the sake of using technology.  Students having their computers in class has gone from once or twice  a week, to nearly daily, such as having a pencil and paper.  The fact that I was willing to try technology to help my students to engage in their learning by the use of technology helped me to get over the fear of the use of technology for things other than attendance and grades. It also help me to see that the things that worked best in my classroom and worked best for my students were usually technology-based.

Ken Cooper is a US History teacher at Beckman High School as well as the ASB Director for the school. He enjoys teaching and the interactions both inside and outside of the classroom. Before coming to teach in Tustin Unified in 1996, he student taught at Troy High School in Fullerton and worked in Orange Unified.

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