Instructional Material: Will Greenleaf: Advice

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--Important Tips For Suriving Technology Classes in a Middle School--

What I teach

I don't teach technology, I teach how to learn.

The software programs we use today are probably not going to be the software programs we will use in a decade.  Kids need to know how to adapt, how to figure it out, not to learn new technology.

I also believe kids need to learn how to choose the right tool for a particular task.  Too often the new and the shiny takes precence over the best.  Kids need to be able to assess the needs of the task at hand and decide which approach works best for their goals and time frame.

Sometimes the best piece of technology for a job is a pencil!

Spreading the Joy

When I first started teaching technology I thought I had to teach it all.  

I couldn't keep up.

By the end of the period I would have a half dozen kids with their arms propped wearily in the arms, waiting for me to come over and answer the question.  It was a waste of their time and frustrating for me.

Then I started having them ask each other.  I have a standing rule that no one can ask me a question unless they have asked three other students first.  When they have found three kids who can not answer their question, then I teach the four of them.

And something really cool happened.  Not only did it free me up to trouble shoot hardware issues and grade projects, but the kids started sharing their projects, their discoveries.  Soon innovative ideas I would not have had time to teach are spreading throughout the class.  They become excited enough about their work that it often is a topic of discussion at their lunch breaks.

Robotic Tournaments

Folks told me it was very cool, but I had no idea.  It was so much fun.  I strongly recommend fielding at least one team.

The newbie mistakes I made were:

Not enough emphasis on rehearsing presentations

Not enough real world connections in researching


Emphasize gearing and technic connections

Emphasize versatile designs

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