Saturday, September 11, 2010

Teach 'Em To Fish


ARIS makes creating class lists a breeze. All you have to do is open the page, click on the little export in the corner, save the file on an Excel spread sheet, delete the stuff you don't need and auto fit or change the column sizes to what you want and then save the document in a place and with a name you will remember. It sounds complicated but it really is not. Everything is menu driven, easy to follow. (When you are taught correctly.)

I didn't realize until this week how computer illiterate some of my colleagues are. My poor friend almost had a heart attack when she found out she would need to do this for one of her classes. I said, "Never fear, you too shall be an expert in only a few minutes."

Unfortunately, on the day of the lesson, several cackling cronies were in the audience and their snarky comments and giggles unnerved her, but she persevered nevertheless. I refused to touch the keyboard as I gently pointed out the menus she needed to use and the places her mouse had to glide. Before long, she was the one laughing and her hecklers were looking mighty sad.

When we finished the spread sheet, we had to attach it to a file and e-mail it to the person in charge. My poor colleague did not know about the little paper clip and the fact that the file had to be closed before it could be attached. Again, once this was pointed out, she became an attaching fool.

We've had countless staff developments on ARIS and e-mails. We've been shown templates and files and other stuff that are relevant only to the application we are reviewing at that moment. No one ever bothered to go through a menu and to explain the why and how things work.

Attaching a file or exporting a document are easy if you've been around computers for a while. Many teachers have not. To get them proficient, they need basics. They need to be taught the same way we teach children. They need to understand and be able to explore concepts on their own. Only this way will they be able to fully use the wonderful technology available.


I had the same problem trying to learn the Smart Board and the graphing calculator. Instead of menus, I was shown templates and given long written sets of instructions. It was only when I found a friend willing to go through each application was I able to fully understand and apply. By doing this together, I even helped this friend increase her basic knowledge.

This all gets down to one thing. We need to not learn by rote, we need to understand. When I teach a new math concept, I try to get the kids to understand why things work the way they do, introduce common sense rather than memorization. I started doing this years ago when I first started teaching calculus. The AP test is designed to test thinking and applications, not concepts memorized from a book. Over the years I have tried to incorporate these same skills into every class, even the special education ones I taught years ago. Surprisingly, it works pretty well.

If you give a man a fish, he has dinner for the night but if you teach him to fish, he has dinner for life. We all need life long nourishment.

5 comments:

MissGingie said...

could not have said it any better, "need to not learn by rote, we need to understand."

Anonymous said...

You assume that we have prior knowledge. You got me on the 2nd sentence when you said "... All you have to do is open the page, click on the little export in the corner, save the file on an Excel spread sheet, delete the stuff you don't need and auto fit or change the column sizes to what you want and then save the document in a place and with a name you will remember." You assume we are all very familiar with Excel. I am not, so I have no clue as to what you're talking about. I need intensive tutoring to accomplish this kind of learning; I am not smart when it comes to spreadsheets. It's daunting for some of us.

Mrs. H said...

I had so many friends at my old school who were completely clueless about the computer. They had so much fear. The ones who were WILLING to learn, were always surprised that things were not quite as difficult as they seemed. The ones who were NOT willing to learn still don't know anything and are having a hard time functioning in the new age of graphing calculators,laptops, interwrite tablets, and smartboards.

At my new school, the teachers are mostly younger than me and I find myself learning from them. It has been a great experience.

Pissed Off said...

Don't get me wrong. I know it is overwhelming. All I am trying to say is that if people are taught correctly, they will pick it up. We are all bright enough to learn. The problem is with the way we were taught.

MissGingie said...

Teaching with concrete objects and learning through experience, anyone will eventually get it.My 4 year olds did. I had 4 year olds using the 'correct' word for a rhombus, making patterns with color cubes at center time, as well as also using a pan balance scale correctly.