Once again it is time to saddle up and prepare to ride herd on another group of technology students. With the hustle and bustle of preparing for a new year I often forget how important it is to document what works and what does not. This year my goal is to journal, at least some of my classes, with an eye towards technique. We spent the morning in a professional development seminar presented by Dave Burgess of Teach Like a Pirate fame. Needless to say, while I did not agree wholeheartedly with everything that was said, I do believe that Mr. Burgess was correct in one very important area. We absolutely DO need to carefully consider our presentation and we need to devise ways to make it more engaging. We are packaging and marketing a product for sale and we are competing with some of the best marketers in the world for the attention of our students. In order to engage our students and give them the best opportunity to retain the material we present, we must make it palatable.
Before anyone grabs the tar and feathers, I have not bought into the theory that each lesson needs to be an epic presentation of Hollywood-like special effects. I survived the “Working on the Work” phase of 2007 and 2008. We all built carefully crafted set-pieces to be trotted out for special occasions like evaluations. I have seen teachers with fire station poles, amusement park rides, and all sorts of props in the classroom. I don’t think that this is a legitimate expectation for every teacher. I do, however, think that each of us can, and should, put more care into the format and presentation of our lessons. Any good craftsman will be interested in improving their craft because each of us, in the end, wants to do the best we can for our kids, or at least, they should be our highest motivation.
At any rate, my goal this year is as follows:
1.) Document what I am doing in class with video, audio, and careful notes.
2.) Use that documentation to improve what I am currently doing and use legitimate data collection and analysis methods to determine what is good and what is not so effective.
3.) Brain-storm ideas for more ways to present information more accurately and more interestingly.
4.) Archive and share what works and what does not in the classroom on these pages.
Having said that…Wish me luck…Here We Go Again.