Encourage, Don’t Shame

Here we are, at the beginning of a new era in education – 21st Century learning, where technology may play an integral role. For many of us, it is a very exciting time, full of possibilities.  For others (and even sometimes the above group may feel this way at times as well), to say it is challenging would be an understatement. As a result, it is important to make this technology as user-friendly and accessible as possible – to everyone.

Some may say that using mobile devices, such as iPods and iPads, with “drill and practise” – type apps, is a waste of time.  I disagree with this position for a couple of reasons:

First of all, if we want to have teachers get used to usingtechnology in their classrooms, we have to have give them the opportunity to use them in a way that is easy, relatively stress-free and uncomplicated, at least to start. If that means that they use these mobile devices with their students initially with “drill and practise” math apps, so be it.  It makes them more comfortable and, thus, more willing to take more risks in their future use of the iPads. These are educators who may never have even thought to bring these devices intotheir classroom at all. Providing them with encouragement and an easy way to begin to incorporate technology will have long-term impact.

Secondly, some students will not do Math drills in the Mobile Devicetraditional worksheet manner.  These students find it very difficult to be engaged in this type of schoolwork. While I agree that this teaching method is somewhat questionable to begin with, if we are looking at a complete well-rounded math program, many teachers feel that students need to get better at the “basic” facts. To do this, many teachers still give their students worksheets to accomplish this – or at least try to meet this perceived need.  So, if students need to practise their basic math facts, and will not do it in the “traditional” manner, then why not motivate them with a mobile device?

I have witnessed some of the most unmotivated students, who have great difficulty engaging in their learning and who are weak in their basic math facts, use a math app on an iPod.  These students change.  They seem much more motivated, engaged, and are practising their facts over and over again.  They are trying. They are focusing. They are excited and having fun.  Isn’t that what we want? (of course, I understand that what we really want is more problem-solving, real-life, based mathematics curriculum, but is this not a start?

Some of you may disagree with the above reasons why it is okay for teachers to use Drill and Practise Math apps in their classroom and that’s okay. We all have our opinions and they are all valuable.  We are all a different places on the 21st-Century education journey.  That is okay. It is important though, that we all are moving in that direction. We need the support of each other to be successful in this journey though.

I do hope that in these changing times, we do not alienate our colleagues along the way. We are in this together – for our students. We need to be encouraging and help our colleagues be comfortable with technology and all technology has to offer our students – both now and in their future.  Please encourage and don’t shame.

It will be challenging, but if we are all in this together, we can make a difference.  We can affect change in a positive way.

What are your thoughts? Is it okay to use technology in a Drill and Practise manner? Or should these teachers just not be encouraged to use the technology at all?

*Photos by flickrs owner arvindgrover and sigmamarketing.

Published by Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am an elementary educator who recently returned to the classroom after 12+ years as an elementary school administrator. Lastly, I am passionate about helping others, learning about abuse, helping others in abusive relationships, and helping others understand their worth.

3 thoughts on “Encourage, Don’t Shame

  1. Bang on, Tia. I have seen in my own son the increase in engagement when a ‘gadget’ comes into the equation. If I want to affect change, and am intimidated by the enormity of the task, it’s easier to manage if I deal with one variable at a time. It stands to reason, I think, that teachers who love drill/practice worksheets might be intimidated by BOTH adding technology and by changing their pedagogy away from D/P. It makes perfect sense to me to change one uncomfortable thing at a time. Once a teacher (and students, to be honest) is comfortable with tech use, it seems a smaller step to look at what else besides D/P we can do with it.

    1. Sean,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, it is difficult, no doubt, but we must encourage people if we want to make change happen. If they are comfortable using the ipad like that, while not the best, at least it’s a start. We all had to start somewhere.

      How ld is your son?

      1. He’s 9 and shows much higher engagement with learning when anything electronic/mechanical gets added to his learning. The fights we have over worksheets at home are frequent. Give him the same intellectual tasks on an electronic device and his attention is focused, and his willingness to try things blows us away.
        I think those teachers who are willing to try ipads (uncomfortable) with drill (comfortable) can then be brought along, particularly when we can use some better pedagogy, but with the same devices, when we are providing them inservice and pro-d.

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