Saturday, July 21, 2007

Instructional Practices

The more I read through Strategies That Work, the more I'm reminded that everything we do is supported by our instructional practices. The authors provide several examples of lessons that teachers have done with particular pieces of literature, including quotes from students and teachers taken from the lesson itself. And I think about how the practice, the teacher's support of student thinking, the student input back to the class and to the content are all so important. But it's the instructional practice that will make a difference.

Here's how my brain is connecting with this in terms of helping teachers to use technology: if we don't teach the instructional practice as the basis right along with the technology tools, we're not getting anywhere. If I want students to use Diigo, for instance, I have to have built some background knowledge about research, notetaking, etc. as well as supporting their learning through collaboration in order for students to fully understand the power of this particular tool. If I were just to show students how to use Diigo to bookmark, highlight and annotate online material it would mean nothing because there is no real connection to anything that they already have knowledge of to pull from. But, if I spend time helping students understand the research process and I've worked to give them multiple opportunities to collaborate with each other then these experiences would give them some background knowledge to pull from. In order to learn new skills, we require practice. In order to form new understandings, we need to be able to connect prior knowledge to new information. In our rush to use any tools, whether they are so-called Web 2.0 tools or the kinds of tools of the classroom that we hold in our hands, we must have some knowledge of what it takes to learn the skills needed for these tools or order to implement them for lasting results.

That's my thought for today....and I'm stickin' with it!


Clay Burell said...

Hi Diane,
You're on target with this one. I introduced Diigo to my ninth grade classes last school year because I thought they would simply find it useful for future research papers. Next time I do that, it will be embedded in a research project to give them the need for the tool.

Some students tell me they use Diigo habitually now. But most, I think, needed more practice and purpose to get to that stage.

"Still under construction" indeed, to quote your next post :)

Diane Quirk said...

Hi Clay,
This is what's been irritating me lately and I probably need to do some writing to work through these thoughts more thoroughly. I attended NECC in June. Having seen the exhibit hall and listened to all the vendors talking about web 2.0 this and classroom 2.0 that, I'm getting tired of the terminology. Good instructional strategies are good instructional strategies no matter what else we wrap around it. If we don't begin there, what do we have to build student's knowledge on. I believe our work rests on the pedagogy. Thanks for your comment.