This recent inquiry by a new Twitter contact got me thinking about why and how I do what I do.
Which is funny, because I never really gave it much thought before.
In the fast-paced world of EdTech, as soon as you've mastered the latest tool, something better comes along to top it. For example, I thought my students were on the cutting edge when we created our own wikis a few years back. Now, we create our own websites. Units I've created in 2008 are outdated now. That's why--like software--I'm always "upgrading."
I suppose I'm what you'd call a backwards planner, although the technical term is backwards designer. Backward Design is a method of curriculum design in which you choose the end before you know where and how to start. In other words, you put the cart before the horse. Or, to put in cartographic terms, you're first choosing your destination and then mapping out your route. Personally, I'm a huge fan of project-based learning and performance tasks, so I almost always choose the end task first.
Actually, I choose the EdTech tool first. Because I subscribe to a bunch of EdTech blogs, my inbox is daily inundated with the latest in technology tools. I can't try them all out at once, of course, so I put them in my digital sandbox for future reference.
Hmmm...I realize I still haven't provided an answer to Marni's question, so here goes:
A: Hi, Marni! Thanks for your kind words, and thanks for stopping by. To answer your question, here's how I build my units:
- From my ever-growing list of options, I choose a tech tool I'd like to try.
- I create an end project that incorporates that tool.
- I design activities (lesson plans) that support the learning goal.
Also, I send out requests to other teachers in the building to see if anyone's amenable to developing a cross-curricular unit. For example, I wanted to try out easel.ly, so I approached the junior high math and language arts teachers and we devised a unit on creating infographics. As you can see, I try to keep it simple. Hope this helps!
Marni's question got me thinking about how often I tend to encourage (well...more like nudge, prod, and annoy) my teacher friends to try out my new discoveries in their classrooms. Usually, I get a polite smile and nod, because, really...who has time to revamp the curriculum? I get it. I sincerely do.
But here's my question to all of you teachers out there, and it echoes the title of this post: Is there an end product you've already designed that you could replace with a tech tool? Or at least integrate with a tech tool?
It really is easy. I promise!
Image by ConnectedPrincipals