Reconciling Tech and Content

photo courtesy of K. Sawyer on Flickr
Just last week I had the first serious observation I've had in a long time.  I was observed during the first time my 3rd graders used the computers all year (no pressure!). I was nervous because this is my first year in the school, but I was also nervous because very few people, aside from aides and TSS workers have seen me teach. In the 7 years I worked in the School District of Philadelphia I was officially observed a total of 3 times. Two of those observations were before I was even certified.

The best part about my observation was the post-conference. The Instructional Coach who observed me had a concise and specific goal for me to work on, and it was one that I knew I needed to reconcile.  She told me that I needed to decide what exactly my learning goals for my students are.

As someone who believes that technology should not be taught as a separate class, teaching in a lab is a bit of a conundrum. 

I want to make sure that what I'm teaching my students is relevant to what they are doing in their classrooms. I want my class to be more than just learning how to do x, y and z. However, I also realize that my students have never been taught how to do much on the computer at all (the whole Digital Native thing is farce, believe me).

Part of the post-conference conversation was about learning goals for my lessons. I have to make a decision. Is the learning goal about the content or the tool?

In a perfect world, I would love for the tool to be a pathway to understanding content. First, however, my students need to know how to use the tool.

So to reconcile this dilemma I have realized that I can teach the tool and make my main learning objective be focused around the tool while using a relevant topic or concept that is aligned with the grade-appropriate curriculum to teach the tool. Perhaps later in the year, or even next year, once my students have enough tools under their belt, we can begin to explore content, not tools. Until then, my role as a lab teacher is to provide my students the time to explore a variety of tools so that when it comes to choosing what tool is right for the job, their belt has a few options in it.


Save Trees: Don't print me!