What does it mean to be a coder today? The answer isn’t so simple. With technology as the backbone of our economy, everything from entrepreneurship to art galleries to medicine is affected by code. That means the ability to read and write code – even at a fundamental level – can not only make you a valuable team member, but can also help you communicate and better integrate your ideas into the final product.
For the past couple of weeks I have tried something new with 6th graders and the LMS I am assessing for our District. Each student is on one computer, they log into the assignment on the LMS, go to the day’s lesson, and then follow the directions for that day. The assignment consists of reading a brief set of directions, watching three brief videos on the topic assigned, writing a six sentence paragraph explaining the topic on a Google Doc and then uploading their work back to the LMS.
As a part of formative assessment I will ask the class to explain to me in “kid words” what the topic means. For example, one of this weeks topics was coding. The simple concept that they should have been able to explain is that “code is a set of instructions that tells a computer what to do”. When asked what code is, no one could explain. Some students did not respond and had absolutely no clue and the Pre-AP students began to read from their paragraph statements from the videos that they had transcribed verbatim. Yet no one seemed to comprehend the topic, understand the topic, synthesize the topic, and explain the topic.
This caused me to re-evaluate and re-think the process of what was going on. Things like…
- What am I doing wrong?
- How can I better present the material?
- Did I choose the correct material?
One aspect of improvement that came to mind was a set of guiding questions that would stimulate thinking and guide the students through the videos. What to be alert for, what to take note of, and what to consider including in their summaries. If I want to have students comprehend, understand, synthesize, and explain, then I will need to provide them with the correct stimuli to do that.
One other thing that I noticed is the videos themselves. Not all videos are created equal. Just having students watch a video on a subject or topic does not necessarily mean that they will retrieve the material that they need. I quickly noticed the need for repetition and reinforcement. If the take a way is that “code is a set of instructions that tell a computer what to do”, then the material used must state, define, refine, and reinforce the concept. Not many videos do that. Simply choosing an online video will not get the job done. Many videos may be great for introducing a student to a topic, yet they do not lend themselves to comprehension, understanding, synthesizing, and explanation.
Some quick take aways as we move students to online learning.
- Information is abundant, but the analytical ability to comprehend, understand, synthesize, and explain needs guidance.
- Outcomes rely heavily on the inputs that are designed.
- Online alone is not an acceptable replacement for a directed pedagogy.
- In a “click and move on” culture, learners of all ages (pre-K through adult) do not take the time to read (even brief sections) of instruction. They are looking for something visual to move them on to the entertainment.
Never underestimate the value of the Google Doodle and never assume that everyone knows about it.
The 155th Anniversary of the Pony Express sets the stage for an Interactive Google Doodle. It also provides the opportunity for kids to play the app and ask questions. Questions like “Why are those guys on horses”? Questions that have me responding, “I am glad you asked”.
Food For Thought. Have your students explore a Google Doodle and then write a six sentence paragraph, or a six slide presentation, or an info-graphic, or any other digital composition about the Doodle of the day topic.
More Food For Thought – Tell another teacher about it and they will think you are a genius.
Technology Integration is the process of using the tools that we have to learn and to produce.
Teachers use tools to learn and produce products. Students use tools to learn and produce products. Once the mystery, myth and hype of techno phobia disappears, all we are doing is using the things that we have to learn and produce.
Technology Integration is to take place daily in the classroom. It is the infusion of the tools that we have with the curriculum that we teach. Math, Science, Language Arts and Social Studies should all be taught and learned with the tools that we have.
Technology TEKS are to be taught in the regular classroom curriculum by the regular classroom teacher.
Technology Application Labs are simply assistants in the learning process, they are not the Technology Integration curriculum. Integration takes place campus wide by the entire campus population.
When teachers use technology tools to teach core curriculum and students use technology tools to learn core curriculum and produce products that reflect comprehension of core curriculum; then you have Technology Integration.
Technology Integration Instructors help teachers and students use the tools that we have to learn and produce.