Posting from San Antonio, here are some big questions that have been rattling around in my head lately (thanks to CSU Professor Louann Reid and Tech Genius Bud Hunt for talking these out with me last night):
- There seem to be two schools of thought about the role of technology in the English Language Arts classroom: The first is that students’ cognitive functions and the world of technology have evolved into something very different from the linear textuality we are familiar with, and that this change in thinking requires a revolution in the classroom, so that teachers can engage and teach students communication and deep thinking; the second school of thought seems to be that technology allows us to hold carrots out to students that reward them for working through more traditional English assignments. Many people in the second group say things like, “Just make sure they write the paper first,” or, “The text must remain primary.” My question is, “Do we need a revolution in the classroom?”
I’m inclined to say yes.
- Is text still primary?
- How do we define text?
- How do we divide our instructional minutes to address written texts, visual texts, technology instruction, critical thinking, reading and writing skills, philosophical/humanistic issues, etc.?
- How much technology do we actually need to be familiar with to teach the students?
I think we need more expertise than most of the presenters seem to believe. We can’t expect our students to use tools well that we are completely unfamiliar with, even with the model of “Teacher as guide.” Knowing the tools will also help us negotiate and explore the discourse rules so that we can guide students into making good decisions about the most effective ways to communicate across new genres.
- What will the role of traditional texts be in this new world that our students will work in?
- What should the role of traditional texts be?
- Is our text changing for better or worse in the foreseeable future as a result of new communication technologies and genres?
- Is our world changing for better or worse as a result of new communication technologies and genres?
- Cumulatively and specifically, what role should English (and other content area) teachers play in this new world.
There are more questions, but, for me, the biggest ones focus on how much our teaching should change and in what directions/ways.
I think each of those questions probably deserve their own blog post. So–following Bud Hunt’s advice–that’s what I’ll write about for the next couple of weeks to keep my reflections active and ongoing.