Lance Scranton: Teaching with technology

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Lance Scranton

Technology is ever-present in our culture and in our schools.

The High School has taken advantage of some extra rooms and re-purposed these areas of the school and turn them into computer labs.

The added computer centers mean our students have more access to technology than ever before. Combine the computer labs with iPads and Smartphones and we are definitely “wired.”

Understanding by Design (UbD) is a curriculum planning movement in our School District that incorporates the best practices of teaching and takes into consideration how student learning has changed and adapted to technology.

While students have access to greater amounts of information, teachers must be increasingly concerned about how it is used as source material for informing their views, opinions and research efforts.

Using technology to help students learn has taken on a whole new meaning during the last 15 years that I have been a teacher at Moffat County High School. We have spring-boarded past “knowing” information and now attempt to help students manage the information that is available at the touch of a finger (or thumb).

The sheer amount of gathered information conditioned many teachers to try and help students know as much as they could possibly learn in any given unit of study. What we have realized is that teaching “an inch deep and a mile wide” has not served our students well.

Facts and figures are important and a necessary part of learning but when these facts and figures are so easily accessed, students are conditioned to perceive the information as a valuable resource but not worth committing to memory.

Now, for many of us this is counterintuitive to good, classical learning but what we fail to realize is that if we had the same advantages, we would likely think and learn the same way (and many of us do).

It’s less important for a student in today’s school systems to memorize the States and their Capitals than to understand the concept of a Capital city and its role as the center of governmental affairs.

UbD is the model for a combined effort of teachers to help students understand why certain concepts and big ideas are important and how their understanding will facilitate genuine learning in a world that uses technology to shape how we perceive our surroundings.

Ask most students today who the President of the United States was during the WWI (simple recall) and they will tell you just as quickly as they can access the factoid using technology. But ask them how WWI shaped and influenced industry, manufacturing and technology in America (enduring understanding) and along with their answer it is very likely they will also mention Woodrow Wilson.

The times are changing and it’s getting more exciting to try and keep up!

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