Technology in the classroom: What do you make?
My dad makes stuff. To be more specific he makes landing gear changers for the military and commercial jets, and, when I was a kid, he wanted me to make stuff too. However, I had zero interest in working in a machine shop, using a plasma cutter, or running a band saw. I didn't want to make stuff. I was much happier playing basketball, playing video games, or hanging out with friends. To this day, I still can't read a tape measure. If it doesn't read a 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4, it wasn't built properly in the first place.
I am happiest as an educator when I am making stuff
Flash forward 20 years and now...I make stuff too! It doesn't involve a machine shop or tape measure (thank goodness). Instead, I make social studies courses for an online school in North Georgia. The stuff I make involves technology like Apple Clips, Biteable, Nearpod, and other amazing educational technology tools. The stuff I make, makes a difference in the lives of the students I teach and the students who will take my course in the future. For me, I am happiest as an educator when I am making stuff, and it makes me wonder how many other educators need to be making stuff too.
As teachers, the only thing we can control is our classroom.
I am sure that we all know teachers that are not happy with education. They blame it on the system, on students, on parents, and on administrators. I get it. I have done the same thing. I have complained about students being the problem, about the system being broken, and policies that the state or county has pushed down. At times, some of these complaints are valid, but I have zero control over them. I cannot control the students that are placed in my class. I cannot change the system of education, and I cannot determine the state and local laws that are passed down. As teachers, the only thing we can control is our classroom. So, let's focus on that. Let's get back to focusing on our classroom, and what we can do to make it better.
It starts with making stuff! We become stale and stagnant as teachers when we reuse and recycle materials that we have been using for years. There is something about creating something new that breathes life into our teaching and our classroom, and there isn't a better time than now to create something new. The amount of ed tech tools that are available to teachers is unbelievable. Tools such as Biteable and Apple Clips allow us to create engaging videos, like the ones below, to introduce or teach a new topic.
As teachers, making stuff helps keep our content fresh and relevant. We want students to be engaged. We want students to be interested in the content we teach, but teachers...we have to make it interesting. We have to make it relevant. We all teach amazing content, but we sometimes present it in the most boring of ways. Be excited about what you do, because what you do is awesome!
You are not the only one who can make stuff. Your students should be making stuff too!
If we are at our best as teachers when we are making new and engaging content, it should be obvious that students are at their best when they are making stuff in our courses as well. We are not always the expert in the classroom. We have to let students become the expert on a topic. One of my favorite things that I have done recently with my students is create Podcasts using Anchor.fm. It is an online tool that allows students to easily create a podcast with all the intro music, transitions, and tools of a professional podcast, and then pushes their podcast to all the major platforms. What is more relevant to students, writing a paper about WWII or creating a podcast about a WWII topic that interests them? Students created fantastic podcasts that ranged from the music of the era to the medical treatment provided to soldiers. They picked topics that I never would have thought of, and their choices helped make WWII more meaningful to them. Provide your students with a choice, and let them make stuff in your classroom. You might just find that both you and your students are happier.
I would love to know what you and your students are making. Comment below, or message me on Twitter. I would love to learn about all that you are doing in your classroom. As always, thank you for taking the time to read my post. If you don't already, please subscribe to the blog to receive great articles like this one directly in your inbox. You can also follow me on Twitter @teachandcoachga.
Have a great day! D. Barkes