Try Something New

I’m a latecomer to blogging. As I mentioned on my blog before, the intent was to share with my school community what I was learning at a conference. I also wanted to find a way to use technology in a productive way (so I could teach it to my students as such), be reflective on what I love to do, share what I’m learning/reading, try something new, practice writing, and try to push my teaching forward into the 21st century.

9 months after starting this blog, my last post on innovation and creativity was featured on “Freshly Pressed” – wordpress.com’s homepage. As of this writing, my blog has been seen by over 2,000 people today. I have no idea who they were, except for the many comments (thank you to all who did), nor do I know if any will return. Whether one agrees or not with my thoughts on education and where it might head, this sudden uptick in visitors reminds me of something Stephen Johnson wrote about. The environment for innovation has to be one in which ideas are shared and the potential for connections exist. We are certainly in an age where that connectivity is increasing. I’m don’t fancy myself a writer, and yet yesterday’s post was chosen among the many to be featured, and thus the potential for connections increased greatly. Will this lend itself to innovative teaching. Who knows?

What I know is that innovative teaching requires trying different things, especially if the current paradigm doesn’t work. Some of these things haven’t been researched yet, so there is no data to support them. Some are just new ways to present the same material, but perhaps with John Medina’s Brain Rules or the Heath Brother’s Made to Stick ideas behind the lesson.

This is the first year I have a mounted projector in my classroom and feel very fortunate, but I already feel that powerpoint is to some degree outdated and while slides can enhance a lesson, if it doesn’t, don’t use it. Today I tried two different brands of interactive boards for the first time. One required me to just plug and play (and it worked like a charm). The other required me to learn some new software, create the content for it, but it too, worked wonderfully. There are a lot of interesting free web-based presentation sites out there. One I looked at recently was a site called prezi. I created a lesson using it tonight and will try it out tomorrow. There’s no guarantee that it’s going to work, but what’s the harm in trying something new. Playing with new technology just takes a little time and you can’t do that for everything (or can you?).

As a co-worker put it, schools across this country are being treated like businesses (and not necessarily good ones). Apart from the cost, schools are not businesses. Education isn’t something we ‘sell’ or ‘market’. It’s what we pass on to our future generation so that they can in turn create and innovate. But how are they going to know how to do that, if teachers aren’t creative and innovate themselves. We’re not talking world-changing innovations (although some would argue that we need them), just a small step forward here and there. Soon enough, they turn might turn into a giant leap.

Just for posterity’s sake, I captured the ‘Freshly Pressed’ page which you can view below. If nothing else, it made my day.