Vision Statement

Technology-infused education no longer passes as unique. It weaves through our daily lives in ways we never imagined and will impact on our educational systems and our students in ways we have yet to discover. Students with mobile devices have computing power at their fingertips equivalent to modern desktop computers of only a few years ago. Just as good educators constantly strive to reinvent methods for exciting students to learn, those same educators cannot ignore the connectivity these students have today.

Connected students have a wealth of information at their fingertips. The classroom of today is not four-walled. “Students’ learning increasingly takes place across various information technologies, external of traditional classrooms” (Dunaway, 2011, p. 675). The teacher becomes a guide and the student owns his or her singular quest for knowledge. Educators are not the sole conduit for information, and as such, must recognize that students still need a shepherd to guide them in their respective quests. Unconnected students will need a shepherd as well. They will need to connect on school-owned devices to insure they have the opportunity to explore the global opportunities not accessible in their own homes.

Educators must explore technologies and weave lessons that are technology-rich. Whether it is in the students’ quest for finding answers to driving questions affecting the world they inhabit or the teacher managing his/her classroom data, computers and devices make the job richer. Teachers should demonstrate restraint as new software and hardware emerges. Newer is not always better. As stated by Roblyer and Doerling (2013), “The past has shown that teachers must be careful, analytical consumers of technological innovation, looking to what has worked in the past to guide their decisions and measure their expectations in the present” (p.10).

Data from students becomes accessible instantaneously and can help the teacher design remedial and scaffolding instruction on one end and can help drive enrichment on the other. This power allows parental involvement and inclusion in the process. iNACOL identifies this area as a top Federal Policy issue. It demands that educators address and retrain how data is collected to insure it “includes multiple measures at multiple points in the year, including formative, embedded, performance-based and validating ‘summative’ assessments with testing windows through the year” (2013, p. 3). Stakeholders can then make informed decisions at all junctures rather than waiting for End Of Course results.

Professional development must be moved from lecturing teachers to educating them on how to use technology in their content area. “You may have the best computer, the most sophisticated curriculum software, and the fastest Internet connection…but if that teacher does not know how to use any of that, its not going to improve education” (Rivero, 1999, p. 54). The Harkness Table refined student-centered learning in boarding schools from the moment it was implemented. It is a proven method that still works today in all settings. Now, with Bring Your Own Device and/or class sets of iPads incorporated into the mix, we can impact education and move from one blackboard or whiteboard to lessons where all students hold the chalk.

References:

Dunaway, M. (2011). Connectivism: Learning theory and pedagogical practice for networked information landscape. Reference Services Review, 39(4), 675-684. Doi:10.1108/00907321111186686

International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). (2013). Fast facts about online learning. Retrieved from http://www.inacol.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/iNACOL_FastFacts_Feb2013.pdf

Rivero, V. (April, 1999). Top state edtech leaders talk about data-driven decision making. Coverage, 52-54.

Roblyer, M.D. and Doerling, A.H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

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About "B" Bernheim
“B”, his nickname, returns to the other side of the desk after many years. Graduating from UNC-Charlotte in 1983 with a BA in Education (K-12), he entered active service with the US Army. He began teaching high school upon completion of his tour of duty. B taught Language Arts and Social Studies for one year at the middle school level. English, Composition, Public Speaking, Theater, Forensics, and Technical Theater are among the subjects he has taught in public high school settings. Most recently, he was a Strategies of Instruction teacher, Assistant Dean of Students, dorm parent, girls’ hockey coach and rock climbing instructor at The Forman School in Litchfield, CT. The Forman School is a 9-12 boarding school specifically targeting students who learn differently.

4 Responses to Vision Statement

  1. Hi David,
    I enjoyed reading your vision statement. You seem to include support for students and faculty. Most of the time we think of technology as supporting only student outcomes, thanks for having a broad perspective.

    I really enjoyed the comment about the Harkness Table or method. I had to do a bit of research but think the method would be of great use in all schools and classrooms. How do you see this method interwoven with technology? I would be interested in hearing your views.

    Thanks,
    Jen Ball

    • "B" Bernheim says:

      Jen,
      Thanks for reminding me I omitted a hotlink on the Harkness Table.
      Regarding the link between the Harkness Table/Method, technology and good teaching for me rests in the premise of giving ownership to the students. I was not formally trained in this method. My first two years of teaching public school, though successful, left me wanting change in my classrooms. I explored teaching in a circle during my second year during extracurricular Drama productions after school to encourage student ownership. Then I realized I was on-display too much. I flipped everything I did. I began asking students end-state (“What should this look like when we are done?”), rather than specific questions to those quiet or to direct the discussions, in all my areas. I stayed away from the middle. I encouraged and rewarded collaboration over competition. The difference was astounding. Scary at first; but astounding. Many years later, I connected what I did with the Harkness Method and continued to tweak student exploration in classrooms. One of the biggest concerns teachers have with technology integration seems to be the loss of control. Students stress over the change as well. “One of the hallmarks of Harkness discussion sessions, made feasible by their small size is the absence of hands in the air vying for permission to speak; instead, students learn the conventions and requirements of participating in discussions without a single gatekeeper for contributions” (Courchesne, 2005, p. 45). My only experience with small sizes was in advanced classes or when I made the jump to private schools.
      The Harkness Method would provide a framework that sadly was not taught in my undergraduate teacher training. It would help educators to grasp that the table itself becomes a metaphor (in my own opinion) and can be replaced with the technology being implemented at the moment. The Harkness Method is not the end-all-be-all. Backwards planning, end state education and the Harkness Method are all tools to help an educator step back and encourage student ownership. Please keep in mind, I have experience with 5-12 grade Language Arts, History, Strategies of Instruction, Theatre Arts, Composition and Speech. Your mileage may vary. 😉

      Reference:
      Courchesne, Christophe, G. (2005). “A suggestion of a fundamental nature”: Imagining a legal education of solely electives taught as discussions. Rutgers Law Record, 29(21), pp. 21-63. Retrieved from http://lawrecord.typepad.com/rutgers_law_record/files/29rlr21.pdf

      • Thanks for the very thoughtful response David.
        I think you are my twin form another mother. Your path to understanding, although different, shares some distinct similarities to mine. First, your desire to see change in your classroom so that the focus is on collaboration and student-led discussion. I love the learning I hear when students are allowed to really discuss and follow the trail where it takes them. This year I found myself sitting back and enjoying the discussion so much that a smile appeared on my face. One of the girls, intuitive to the core, said, “You think we are amazing, don’t you?” How could I answer anything but “yes!”

        I also find that most teachers at my 1-2-1 iPad school fear losing control so much that they ban the iPad except for remedial review. How short sighted! Anything can draw attention away from a class activity – shoot darn, I’m super entertaining (ha!) but students still lose interest in the fabulously, exciting subject I teach. Rather than ban I think we should be purposeful in the instruction and look to solve the issues related to technology use and students being off task.

        Perhaps one of the most exciting things your post brought to my mind is the opportunity to use the technology to hold Harkness Table discussions around the globe. This would take some organization but could be a way to benefit students, giving them a global voice and global perspective.

        I will look forward to reading the article you referenced.

        Thanks so much for sharing.
        Jen

      • "B" Bernheim says:

        Jen,
        Imagine a PBL assignment exploring the Spanish Holocaust involving students enrolled in History, Theater and Spanish classes working with students from Spain enrolled in English, History and Theater. Using Web 2.0 tools like Google Docs or Voicethread, they could create a final project together. The discussions could be English one day & Spanish the next. The combinations become endless and amazing.
        I’ve had this dream since my very first Google Hangout in 501/502. Glad you share a similar dream. ~ B

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