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amborin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 11:17 AM
Original message
Technology in the School Classroom:
Edited on Sun Sep-04-11 11:27 AM by amborin
In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores

CHANDLER, Ariz. Amy Furman, a seventh-grade English teacher here, roams among 31 students sitting at
their desks or in clumps on the floor. Theyre studying Shakespeares As You Like It but not in
any traditional way.

Molly Siegel and Christian Dedman, both 7, worked together with a laptop during a class in the Kyrene
School District in Arizona.
In this technology-centric classroom, students are bent over laptops, some blogging or building Facebook pages
from the perspective of Shakespeares characters. One student compiles a song list from the Internet, picking
a tune by the rapper Kanye West to express the emotions of Shakespeares lovelorn Silvius.

The class, and the Kyrene School District as a whole, offer what some see as a utopian vision of educations
future. Classrooms are decked out with laptops, big interactive screens and software that drills students on
every basic subject. Under a ballot initiative approved in 2005, the district has invested roughly $33 million
in such technologies.
The digital push here aims to go far beyond gadgets to transform the very nature of the classroom, turning
the teacher into a guide instead of a lecturer, wandering among students who learn at their own pace on
Internet-connected devices.


Hope and enthusiasm are soaring here. But not test scores.
Since 2005, scores in reading and math have stagnated in Kyrene, even as statewide scores have risen.

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plumbob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 11:38 AM
Response to Original message
1. Teacher replacement schemes have abounded for decades now.
3 decades in the classroom, and I have seen many programs come and go. Nearly all had some good points, and nearly all had some problems. That's typical in our life experience, not just education.

I found the following quote to be most correct from my own experience (it's about halfway down the article):

Rather than being a cure-all or silver bullet, one-to-one laptop programs may simply amplify whats already occurring for better or worse, wrote Bryan Goodwin, spokesman for Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, a nonpartisan group that did the study, in an essay. Good teachers, he said, can make good use of computers, while bad teachers wont, and they and their students could wind up becoming distracted by the technology.

That's my experience: good teachers will do well under most circumstances, even strenuous or impoverished ones. Poor teachers cannot have a coat of paint slapped on them and be miracled into doing a great job. In this case, the paint is the technology.

I'll leave you with one question: suppose you had a seventh grader who wanted to travel from their home in California to Mexico City. Would you be okay with them making their own travel arrangements by computer while you wandered around amongst them? Or would you want to provide a bit more guidance than that, as well as some chaperonage for the trip?
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amborin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. another issue is whether computers distract from actual learning and concentration

there was a much earlier MIT study saying they did

what do you think?
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plumbob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. I do think using computers live is a distraction.
Here's what computers are great for:

Producing readable documents even for uncertain writers - handwriting ceases to be an issue and thoughts can be gotten down.

Producing accessible calendars so that even when students are absent, they know what to do, and even when present, can preview what's coming.

Shoring up poor libraries by using real resources for research. This is like going to the library, not a free for all of wandering around.

Here are problems:

Students can isolate themselves from other students and the teacher by diving into their computers when they are used for live instruction.
It places an additional burden on teachers to ensure students are where they should be rather than playing games, Faacebooking and so on.
Places the center of learning onto a computer rather than onto people.

You want a discovery lesson, say for physics? Go outside and give teams pvc poles and blue tarps. Have them design and build a waterproof shelter that will stand 40 mph winds. Then have someone bring their swamp boat to school and test them using a hose. Have students record and think and share and then do it again. I promise real learning will have taken place and real love of learning will begin to grow, because results can be tied to the real world and the pleasure of true accomplishment.

Just my two cents.
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FarCenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
3. Is studying Shakespeare in the7th grade likely to increase scores in reading and math?
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jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-04-11 01:47 PM
Response to Original message
5. I can see using computers in the classroom but they should never
replace the teacher or the hands on experiences a traditional classroom can provide. I can see where a computer could be a great tool for the teacher in preparing her presentations. My sister taught special education in a NY school for students who were not longer welcome in the regular classrooms due to behavioral issues. They were in their last chances before getting kicked out of school. She refused to use a computer but I think she may have been wrong. The one thing that you can teach with a computer is how to locate any kind of information that you want/need. Once out of school we use it all the time in real life from recipes for dinner to the search for knowledge.

The school described above is one step from hiring just anyone to supervise that room and/or home schooling FOR ALL. The rethugs want to get rid of our schools and this may be a step in the plan.

I am a follower of James Howard Kunstler and I know that he thinks (due to oil depletion and economic collapse) that the education system of the future will eventually fall apart - even the colleges. I can see that this is already happening what with so many school districts in economic crisis - larger classes, cutting days, firing teachers, etc. I support the teachers but wonder if JHK is correct about the oil depletion and collapse what these same teachers think should be done to preserve as much of our system as possible? The school system uses to be local and it seems to me that is still desirable. He also thinks our communication system (internet, tv) will eventually fail.
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