Is using technology in the classroom a bumpy ride? You bet, says primary teacher Kathy Cassidy, who’s gained a worldwide reputation for her work with tools and apps in the primary classroom. “But we need to begin thinking the way our children do. We use technology not just because it is technology, but because of what it can do. It engages us and helps us to learn.” Teaching is always a journey over rough roads, Cassidy says. But we master what matters for kids.
Science and health lend themselves easily to PBL (passion or project-based learning) in my mind. But I wasnâ€™t sure how I was going to make it all work in a social studies unit about relationships, rules and responsibilities. I want this to be based on what the students are interested in. Yet there really is nothing about the words â€œrelationships,â€ â€œrulesâ€ and â€œresponsibilitiesâ€ that has the ability to inspire passion in most six-year olds. But then I thought about our six Nintendo DS gaming devices.
PBL is a construct made up by human beings — there are lots of variations! And you are entitled to construct your own version within some parameters. Study many of the great resources that are available to you and then create your own working definition and effective PBL practice. And consider our Continua Frame. We like to think with it, rather than dichotomies, simply because things are rarely on or off, black or white, ones or zeroes!
As an educator I want my students and their families to be a part of our daily learning. When this is encouraged, parents feel welcomed to engage. Through our ability to model this and offer invitations to extend learning outside of our classrooms parents begin to work alongside us, the teachers who are working hard each day to make a difference for all of our students.
Technology helps students with connecting, creating and sharing, but devices are invisible in my definition of active learning. We need to be chanting: empowerment, collaboration, equity, agency, self actualization, and transcendence for kids and for us all within a system that serves as the birth place for every other profession. We need to be chanting these things instead of technology, technology, technology.
Teacher and PBL consultant Shelley Wright offers her first draft of a Slow Education manifesto and urges other educators to end the McDonaldization of schools by joining in the effort. “Itâ€™s the very philosophy we need to save our education system.”