I’ve been on a bit of a Chrome browser / Chromebook / Google Apps for Education kick lately. There’s always been a strong connection between me and Google but we’ve been hanging out a lot more the last month or so.
Firefox has been ticking me off since last spring and so I migrated over to Chrome during the summer. I got my first Chromebook in July. Had the chance to do some training on using Google Drive mobile apps. And we’re hosting an awesome GAFE/Chromebook mini-conference in October. So it’s past the tipping my toe in the water stage. I’m at least waist deep and then some.
As a result of all the Google love, I’ve been spending hours in the Google Web Store. Trust me . . . it’s a quick way to lose all sense of time. But I have found some useful stuff in there. Today? Two of my latest finds that I think you might like too.
It’s always a difficult task. If we’re going to have kids think historically and to solve problems, you’re gonna need two things. Engaging and authentic problems to solve. And . . . evidence they can use to solve the problem.
For teachers, of course, both of those things present a challenge. Creating great questions is not easy. NCLB and older standards encouraged us to feed kids low level questions that anyone with a cell phone could Google in a minute. Writing un-Googleable questions is hard.
But even when we can make that happen, teachers often run into another issue. Where to find useful evidence? What primary and secondary sources can I make available to students? Read more
I had a conversation several days ago with a teacher who was asking all the right questions. She wanted ideas of what works, what the research is saying is great for kids. In her first year, she was using primary sources and other kinds of evidence. She was having kids address deep questions. But she was still concerned about lecturing too much.
And I had to agree. She was probably lecturing too much. It’s an easy habit to fall back on – it makes it seem like you’re doing your job. It fills the time. It covers the content. And it’s often a “great” classroom management tool . . . in the sense that kids are busy “learning” so they’re not setting stuff on fire.
But for a lot of reasons – most of them accurate – lecture as an instructional tool is seen as a bad thing. And for the most part, I agree. Kids need to be solving problems. Working in groups. Messing with evidence. Creating products. Communicating solutions. It’s tough doing that when they’re sitting in rows listening to you.
But I will also suggest that short, interactive conversations between you and your students can be one way for kids to collect foundational knowledge that helps them do those other things. Short and interactive being the operative words here.
Another word that needs to be added to the mix?