My very first step into technology will probably sound familiar to most of you. It all began with PowerPoint. Before that I used transparencies and carefully wrote on them in multi-colored Vis a Vis markers before covering them with thin, white tissue paper to keep them from sticking together. I once even spent hundreds of dollars at Kinko’s to print color ink on my beloved transparencies. In fact, I still have them. My inability to part with materials I spent so much blood, sweat, and tears creating is an issue, I will admit. (Especially considering I no longer have the overhead with which to project these little plastic sheets of brilliance.) But that is another story, we all have trouble moving on sometimes, right?
Back to PowerPoint, AKA PPT, my old stepping stone into the world of tech. I spent just as much time creating PPTs as I did colored transparencies. Of course, there was the issue of late nights formatting and creating on my home computer, only to have found the next morning that nothing looked the same on my school computer…but I loved PowerPoint nonetheless. Looking back, I see my use of PPT was actually rather lazy. I often added too much text. I wanted to remember what I wanted to say, in what order. I didn’t want to forget any part of my lecture. I wanted my students to know I had a plan. I meant business. I had researched. I was soooo knowledgable…just look at all that text on the slide! We all know the effects of such misguided, good intentions. The students sat and tried to copy (mindlessly of course) every. single. word. on. the. slide. I ended up frustrated saying, “College students can’t ask the professor to hold on while they scramble to take notes.” Of course, college professors would never have spent so much time designing slides in the first place when all they had to do was talk.
So this is where my tech journey began…the wordy PPT slides were eventually replaced with neat bullet points, clickable links, audio and videoclips. As my teaching evolved, so did my PPT. So where am I now? Well, for starters I don’t lecture nearly as much. No more sit and get. I introduce material. I demonstrate and model. As I tell my students, I show them possibilities. Then I sit back and I oversee. I no longer need 20 slides to keep me on track. Instead I listen to my students, I give formative assessments, and I gauge student needs. This is done out of class in preparation for the lesson and in class, in the moment, as I differentiate and plan as I go when needed. If students are not responding to me asking questions, I get them talking to each other. If they look bored out of their minds at taking notes I dutifully researched and prepared, I scrap the lesson and ask them to go research using the databases and the internet and see what they can teach me about the topic. And, guess what? PPT is one of the pieces of tech I have ditched completely. Nope, I do not even have students use PPT to demonstrate knowledge. Why would I when there is so much multimedia out there with which to work? So where am I now on my tech journey? In my next post I will outline some of the ways I have students using tech…from apps to their very own blogs to online discussion boards and finally, using multi media to design their very own TED Talks. I am no longer their audience…they are global citizens and they have voices. I teach them to use technology to send their voices into the world.