What are you doing to change things?

there will be those who say that schools without 1:1 resources just can’t engage in this sort of [textbook-less way of teaching]. And, actually, I’d agree. And I’d say to those schools: “So what are you doing to change things? What are you doing to bring 1:1 computing to your kids? Why aren’t you letting students bring the technology they already own into the classroom? And how are you changing and reallocating your resources to take advantage of technologies that prove over the long-haul to be more cost effective and less redundant than textbooks and printing?” I’d ask the English Department: “Why are you buying novels and anthologies that by-and-large are available for free online at places like Project Gutenberg, Open Library, and Google Books?” I’d ask the Math Department: “Why are you beholden to a textbook company for math questions? Use your hard-earned knowledge and post your own questions on a class blog; let the kids formulate questions; shake things up a bit.”

Shelly Blake-Plock via http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-engagement-shelly-blake-plock-teachpaperless-edchat

11 Responses to “What are you doing to change things?”

  1. Shelly’s post was thoughtful and raises good questions to consider, but is a 1:1, district or BYOD, that important to changing instruction and getting away from an over reliance on textbooks? Having never taught in a 1:1 and having no problem teaching without a textbook, I’d say our focus lies elsewhere, though it should be a part of the discussion.

    • Changing instruction requires a change in mind and practice. Technology (hardware) is not required. There are several books on my shelves with scores of highly effective learning/teaching strategies that require no technology. Can technology help? Sometimes. Sometimes it can be of great assistance.

    • Yes. Letting all of the students have access to the greatest content expert (internet) is vital. Our focus does lie elsewhere- teaching these 21st century skills everyone talks about but nobody seems to understand. The internet has the content the facilitator (teacher) has kids colaborate, use, problem solve, extrapolate etc… from that knowledge. i am interested to hear about what you teach, your goals while teaching, and hw you view a child’s success.


      “Great teachers all do one thing well: they create dissonance in the minds of their students and guide them in the resolution of that dissonance.”
      Grant Lichtman

  2. I appreciate the comment. Thanks!

    I am glad you’re having no problem teaching without a textbook. I wish we had more teachers like you. That said, students’ ability to access learning materials outside of a textbook are greatly enhanced – AND they’re less dependent on having to be given materials by someone else – when they have access to powerful technology devices such as laptops, no? Plus they’re also able to do more powerful work because they have more powerful tools at their disposal.

  3. I taught for many years, many years ago without a text.

    I enjoy Jamie McKenzie’s work and his approach to technology. You can find his several books and a great deal of commentary at http://www.fno.org

  4. @ Cal

    This isn’t about technology as hardware, this is about technology as cultural context.


  5. Hi Scott,

    What many of us see as tools that can help refine and develop teaching and learning can sometimes be perceived as undermining by teachers who remain sceptical about the adoption of emerging technologies because of the demands placed upon them of learning and understanding the new pedagogies involved and because they often feel constrained by the contexts and pressures in which they work.

    As a result, teachers often view these new technologies as superfluous or simply not conducive to better learning outcomes.

    In my view, loss of control is also an important factor for many teachers who might see the adoption of new technologies, not only as disruptive, but also as a further erosion of academic rigour and, ultimately, of their traditional role and relevance.

    This may be because the tools that are familiar to our students are not so to teachers who might therefore feel unable to control their students online. There is also the suggestion that teacher resistance to the adoption of new technologies is present because of the little place it plays in their lives – personal or professional.

    In this context, the challenge for teachers would be to find both the time and the willingness to develop new teaching and learning strategies that incorporate the use of new technologies and that allow them to focus on learner-centred strategies, rather than the more traditional teacher-centred use, which is still widely preferred by teachers in general.

    Sorry about the long comment! Thanks Scott.

    • Unfortunately many teachers seem threatened that their “expertness” may be in question. We have a comfort problem and an ego problem. In my opinion.

  6. José, I love long comments!

    I agree with everything you say. But the bottom line is it doesn’t matter how much educators resist or how much control they want to retain or how unfamiliar they are or … Technology is here, it’s a disruptive force, and we either adapt or suffer the consequences (as both individuals and organizations).

    Now, all that said, teachers DEFINITELY need better training and support. Most administrators aren’t doing what they need to do to adequately facilitate learning technologies in their school systems. That’s why I focus on the leadership!

  7. I knew an English teacher who required students to write their essay tests in black ink. Students who wrote in pencil were required to write in black ink. While students, parents and administrators remained fixated on this “required tool” for her essay tests, no one ever asked about what the students were reading, what methods the teacher was using, and the overall effectiveness of the instruction.

    When I read teachers proclaiming that they are textbookless teachers, I worry that we are becoming fixated on the tool rather than the content, methodology, and effectiveness of instruction. Teachers who don’t adjust their instruction to meet student needs because they are “teaching by the book” are in serious need of reform. However, as an English teacher, I’m a little concerned when some may mistake my desire for a contemporary anthology with being a “by the book” teacher. While I embrace technology, there’s a great deal of high-quality literature that isn’t available from the three sites you list. An anthology with select novels might be the most cost-effective tool to meet the needs of my students.

    When we become a 1:1 school, I’ll push my students to access the free works as much as possible. In addition, I hope my students will have access to the online/ebook anthology as well. My students need to make connections to works written in the last 70 years.

  8. What am I doing?

    I am starting a miniMOOC for k-12 students and their parents. Basically, it means I am going to offer a free online course to anyone who is interested through Blackboard Collaborate, based out of a website and it will be up to the participanststo get what they want out of the course. It will be for 6 weeks and will focus on Digital Citizenship by breaking the “fear factors” of Technology, bridging the digital divide AND I’m hoping that students and parents become the grassroots leaders of educational change….

    I’m going to try anyway….

    I am an online teacher, administrator and consultant…but a parent first…and I want to do anything I can to encourage educational change…

    If anyone is interested is helping out…I plan on starting the first miniMOOC this summer (July)

    Verena 🙂

    GlobalEdvr at gmail dot com

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