Friday, October 12, 2007

The Unexpected

The other day I wrote about a workshop I had done and my thoughts about the two kinds of learners that made themselves apparent via the structure of the session. Another thought occurred today and that was that the structure created "the unexpected" for many teachers.

My usual strategy when introducing new tools or teaching teachers how to use tools has been to provide them with materials, complete with screenshots and step-by-step directions, that they'll take with them to use later on. I'd been doing that for many years because teachers had told me they liked having them to go back to. But, in doing so, I may have been creating too much of a crutch for them to lean on. The other problem, if that's what I should call it, is that it really didn't do too much to change teaching practices. Teachers came, they listened, they asked for a repeat of the directions, they practiced a bit and they took the materials with them. But, in the end, many didn't use what they had learned and they haven't internalized some strategies and skills that they can apply with the use of almost any piece of software or technology they encounter.

It reminds me of the kinds of classroom that many have written about - you know...the kind where the teacher teaches, frantically trying to pour all the learning into their student's brains so they can regurgitate it later and never use it again. :) But, it's the unexpected that wakes the brain up, that intrudes on the ho-hum-ness of the same old thing day after day, that gets those neurons firing away in the brain. That's the kind of professional development experiences that I'd like to provide to teachers. They already know a thing or two about the technology - they just need to push beyond that basic level of knowledge (think Bloom's) and get into applying what they know to new things.

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