Tuesday, October 8, 2013

going old school

Last week I came to work and our computer network was down for a little while.  Our campus is wireless and most teachers don't even have the cables to plug into the network or their projectors if needed. 

 We keep and do everything online these days, from attendance to grades, powerpoint lectures to collaborative activities, online homework and textbooks to email.  

When I first started as a teacher, we put a note on the door for attendance, we lectured and wrote problems on the board, handouts were run on the mimeograph, homework was done in notebooks and handed in, grades were kept in a gradebook and calculated with a calculator or by hand, and we communicated by telephone or snail mail.  
When the network goes down now, everything goes down, and teachers are forced to fall back to the old methods of teaching, chalk and chalkboard, although only a few of us even have that anymore. Most of us use whiteboards and dry erase markers 
It's not a far stretch for me to just stand there, make up problems, and lecture as I did for years.  When it's just me, the students, and a piece of chalk, teaching is completely different.  It's performance art.  There are no videos, no interactive games, not even a filmstrip.  Whether or not a student buys into a concept like "factoring" depends solely on my ability to teach, to market math in compelling and exciting ways.
My long years of teaching make going old school no big deal, but some of my colleagues are in their early twenties.    There's never been a day when they didn't have a computer, a smart phone, a projector at the ready.  I'm an old dog and have had to learn a lot of new technology tricks.  Can our new pups learn a bunch of old teaching tricks? 

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