I’m going to take a leap here – a big one!
I’ve had the most amazing experience this year collaborating with some of my classes on Social Media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The simplicity and the engagement that comes from using the tools that the students are already using has made my teaching experience so much richer.
At the beginning of this year, the Science Faculty at my school decided to change textbooks – a common enough occurrence in a high school. What concerned me, however, was the cost, angst and effort that went into this change from the perspective of teachers, parents and students alike. The edition wasn’t printed in time, so we had fill-in books for first term. When the edition finally arrived, some students took 2-3 weeks to get their copy. In the meantime, learning and teaching continued on its merry way.
I’ve never been a big fan of textbooks – they seem to be the one resource that gets an disproportionate amount of attention from teachers, yet is often left gathering dust in the students’ locker every time that they ‘forget’ to bring it to class and which forms a disproportionate part of the back-to-school costs. I find ‘teaching from the text’ creates a stilted, staccato flow in my lessons, which doesn’t support the smooth transition from idea to conversation to enquiry that I am striving to achieve.
Yesterday, one of my Physics students asked me a question about the relationship between a gravitational singularity and an event horizon. Now, I’ve read a little of Stephen Hawking, but I know the limitations! ‘Lets look it up’, I suggested and I turned to my laptop to see what I could find. My student whipped out his mobile phone, opened a browser and had access to a resource before I could get IE to open up a new tab. When I eventually did get the browser going, the resource he was looking at was blocked by the school firewall…
With these hurdles continually being laid before me, I’ve decided to take the initiative and build an app that my students can access from their phones. I’ve got no idea what I’m going to put in it – I’ll probably ask the students for that information – and I’ve got no idea how I’m going to build it – actually, I’ll probably ask the students for that information too!
Either way, I’m going to dive straight in on this one. I’ll let you know how it all pans out!