Thanks to additional release time funding from the TLLP, this morning I had the opportunity to interview Michael Wendler and Jason Rodger, two junior teachers from Ottawa-Carlton District School Board who have been early adopters of IWBs in the Math Classroom.
Jason and Michael teach in a fairly large, K-6 school in Ottawa, with a mainly middle-class, culturally diverse population. Their school has two laptop carts and a class set of iPads which teachers can sign out. Thanks to the efforts of a small but dedicated group of teachers, several classrooms also have Smart Boards in them now.
After reflecting in some detail about the challenges and opportunities that technology presents to teachers at different places along the continuum of tech-comfort, we spoke about how teachers use technology to integrate social justice into their programs, and make learning “real” for students. We also addressed student vs. teacher use of the IWB as an instructional/learning tool in the classroom, and the boys shared some of the different apps and programs they have found useful in their journey with students. It was really encouraging to see two teachers at different stages of SAMR being so comfortable learning from and sharing with one another, and it made me feel more optimistic about my own abilities as a teacher who still uses technology primarily to substitute and augment, rather than to modify and redefine!
After a brief earthquake (no, I’m not kidding; we all felt the tremor, on both sides of the Skype!), we chatted briefly about some more philosophical things, like how some students with an LD can really focus when it comes to video games, and how we can harness that interest and ability with technology, and we also discussed the more pressing matter of TIME, which seems to be in ever-short supply for teachers across this province. (How do you build in the time necessary to be a learner of the “new” tools, for example, and develop a basic comfort and confidence with them, so you can use them effectively in your classroom?)
Before we knew it, our time was up, and we were wrapping up our discussions and trying to figure out the logistics of how to get over an hour of Skype footage edited and up onto the Internet so that others could listen in on our conversation.
It was good to hear from two such engaged educators, and see how colleagues from other parts of the province are using technology to develop mathematical understanding with their students. As Michael noted near the beginning of our Skype session, and Jason concluded towards the end, technology needn’t be overwhelming. Beginning with one small step can open the door to unlimited possibilities not just for students, but for us, the teachers who teach them.
Thanks, Jason and Michael, for your enthusiasm, and for your willingness to share with this new-to-technology teacher!