(Hypnocat courtesy of Cobalt_bucket)

Ok, I’m back blog. Sorry for neglecting you. I know you were wondering why I wasn’t checking you daily for any comments,and to track how many people were accessing the site, and where they were coming from.

Sometimes you have to unplug for awhile so you can cram cram cram for a midterm. Which is what I did. And it was a huge time kill. And again I wondered why we, as educators, when taking masters classes in educational psychology, are still writing multiple choice and short answer without nary a mention of ‘applied’ knowledge anywhere. We’re being tested on how effective our mnemonics and anagrams are at memorizing lists we won’t remember a week later.

What made studying all the worse was my recent involvement, or should I say submersion, in the EC&I831 class. I have wholeheartedly embraced the mindset that learning needs to be process focused (learning skills to better create/learn content) and not content focused (memorization for memorization’s sake), and applying this to my own professional learning and teaching style. This, paired with being part of a wider social learning network that rocks (thanks guys!!!) has proved amazingly effective both as a means for me to be more proficient and prolific, but also to motivate my kids so they too can become more engaged learners, with amazing results.

So, then, to be so much a part of this, and then to suddenly hit the brakes, and throw myself through the window of poor assessment strategies…

Anyways, long story short: Old style of teaching outdated, tests = anxiety, poor indicator of actual applied ability.

I wanted to share an amazing event that happened in my class. Right after the students came back in from recess, Someone asked another what Ebola was. No one in the class knew, but they had heard the name. So, we set up a new shared document on Google drive, and I shared it with the class through  Google classroom. We came up with a bunch of questions on the spot, about what they wanted to learn, and then I set them free. In 20 minutes, this was the result of all their hard work:

Amazing right!?!

So, after we researched, we spent time looking at all the links, to get a full picture of what the disease entails, but most importantly how it is contracted (Just because I didn’t want my students freaking out 🙂 ). I was also able to use this lesson as an opportunity for students to truly understand that one can’t take what is on the internet as fact. Noticing contradictions in the final document, students saw firsthand that there are often two or more perspectives to any issue. They also learned to look for reliable sources.

The engagement was huge. Everyone was actively searching out the information they were interested in adding to the class document. Students were able to achieve this level of skill because:

a) kids are sponges and quickly learn process, especially when it’s fun and they can see how to apply it to their own interests;

b)We have done mini lessons on the google docs suite, including how to use the sidebar that offers ‘research’ and ‘define’ options, the link button, how to embed photos, etc.

I think we often make the mistake of assuming children are not capable of multi-tasking to this degree. Clearly this is a mistake. Even several students in my class who have diagnosed LD’s are all over this stuff, and with a few additional interventions (text to speech / speech to text) are able to easily pull up the document, copy their speech to text information, and paste it in the document. Embedding links? Not a problem. So long as the content is interesting and relevant to the student(s), kids are willing and able to do nearly everything!

I think examples like this may help other educators who are afraid of using technology in their classroom, realize how important it is to join the club. Teachers are professionals, and what comes with any profession is ongoing education to ensure you are still relevant. From classroom management to assessment to, yes process over content, and the relevant kinds of processes mind you; this is all something we enlightened individuals in EC&I831 must share with others, not just in our online social groups (which is a little like preaching to the choir), but bugging your school admin for opportunities to showcase this, to others are even aware this kind of teaching is possible!

That’s my rant, and yes I am preaching to the choir right now. Happy Halloween!





  1. Jeremy, it is amazing how students can do some many things and there is so much richness and deep learning that takes place and, when students begin, their engagement is very intense. As I read through your post, your excitement was tangible and your desire to improve and learn was palatable as was your disdain for the current system and those who are not enlightened. Do I stop? Dare I tread on?

    I don’t consider myself enlightened in any way. I’ve been using technology for many years and deeply respect those who can teach and engage students without it, who can touch student’s hearts and minds and build relationships that continue for years based on mutual respect and deep caring. The tools we use to reach students are multifaceted but just tools. I’ve watched elders tell stories, teachers engage students through imagination, drawing, art, presentation, drama and a myriad of other formats. I believe it is a risk to our profession to create “us/them binaries” where “them” is less because of a perceived lack of something. Instead, we need to help others grow and develop a relationship based on mutual respect and caring, helping and learning from them and not “showing them” – I don’t believe technology is the answer – relationships are where teachers need to focus.

    As a former admin who was digitally inclined, I see the incredible benefits of using technology – and some of the drawbacks and I learned that humility, caring and trust were far more persuasive than “show and tell” when it came to implementing change efforts on any scale. For what it’s worth.

    1. Hi Kelly, thanks for all the feedback! Let me clarify a few things, if I might.
      1. Nowhere did I imply that using technology, and this type of inquiry model, was better than every other form of engagement.
      2. By ‘enlightened’ I was talking about how we as a educational technology class, who have learned so much, and know so many new viable, engaging strategies to get our students thinking critically and constructively, need to share this with others.
      3. I was complaining about professionals who work at a mandated level of engagement with students, and have stopped performing at a professional level of ongoing learning. Perhaps wasn’t clear enough about this though.
      4. Of course relationships are at the heart of education. I never implied they weren’t.
      5. Sharing cool techniques that will excite and engage teachers and students alike is a great approach, so long as it doesn’t come across as condescending. Michael Waker’s presentation was amazing, and it inspired me to try and do things alongside my class that I may have never thought to do otherwise. I know I’m not the only one.

      The last bit I wrote at the end comes across as a bit of a rally cry, doesn’t it? I honestly meant it as more of an inspiring bit to motivate, and not as a dismissal of everyone else in the profession who doesn’t use Google Docs.

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