Most new teachers create their first lessons, attempting to see the learning objectives from a student perspective. That usually doesn't last long, as whatever the school, district and state driven standards prioritize the work flow. For me, my lessons mirrored my grade level mentor or curriculum leaders. This method is sometimes be better designed for the educator, not the student. Lessons get recycled, unit-to-unit and year-to-year.
Enter the classroom computer. Many of the recycled lessons were digitized, but often the results were the same as before. The objectives were built for a direct instruction lesson and not to be interactive. The teacher was totally in control of the learning to which everything had to flow through him or her. Too many teachers thought they had made the conversion to the digital age still delivering the same material, just printing their worksheets from a copy from the district server.
This was the methodology that I was taught and used early in my teaching career. One teacher told me; “Never give up control to the students because you'll never know where the learning will go from there.” So that's the way I taught for the better part of 5 plus years of teaching. I'm not proud of it but it was the truth.
Along came technology like a tidal wave splashing through my classroom. I always enjoyed using technology and dabbling with it often. So there was an easy interest to attempt new lessons using this tool with my students. The first easy obstacle to blame was access to devices. I would be a very wealthy person if I had a dollar for every time an educator complained about not having enough technology in their class. Another phrase was; “There's no way we'll ever be able to implement all the district wants us to with so few devices in each classroom.”
Time passed, with technology becoming more and more affordable. Schools started to add a computer lab, even two or three. Next was the portable carts to bring to the class. There was still a great deal of educator push back even as accessibility barriers had been all but eliminated. Some still weren't ready to share the learning.
For me I'm very thankful to say it's been a rejuvenation in my classroom. Put a device in front of a student and they are instantly motivated. I give them an objective to learn and off they go eager to use their device for this task. Now let's be honest, digitally motivated to learn doesn't always align the objective that I had planned. However, I will take a tech motivated student and redirect that focus any day vs dragging him or her through the old lessons that I came into teaching with.
The true gift finally became clear to me as I totally digitize my classroom during the summer of 2013. In converting my lesson to a format in our 1-to-1 digital world, I was finally able to see what the students were saying. Think about that, to actually be able to see the learning through a student's eye. In addition it was so energizing to see how the classroom expanded beyond the traditional day of school and outside of my classroom walls.