A Pilot Teacher Reflects

Today’s post is written by Max Goller, one of the eighteen teachers who has been an integral part of our HSE21 pilot for the past two-and-a-half years. HSE21 Shorts asked Mr. Goller to talk about what a technology-enabled classroom has meant to him as an educator. The Gonzo Journalism example is lagniappe! 

The digital invasion of Hamilton Southeastern is drawing to a close. Soon, student’s faces will be basked in the glow of their electronic devices.  It will be a time of fear and loathing…and more fear as we reconsider everything we have ever learned about learning. Having been on this runaway train since the term 1:1 first came into the district lexicon, I am here to inform you that your fears are all…

Let me stop there for a moment and share some background on the author Hunter S. Thompson. As you might already know, Hunter was the founder of a brand of journalism known as Gonzo Journalism. Gonzo Journalism is characterized by the insertion of a very strong, often dark bias about the subject being covered, frequently with the writer as a first-person protagonist. As you might have guessed, I have made use of this technique to introduce you to my experiences with 1:1, although I have to be honest and tell you there is very little to fear, and certainly nothing to loath about our move to digital technology. Here are some of my experiences as a 1:1 pilot instructor.  Results may vary.

As an English teacher, I have found much to appreciate about students having technology in their hands. Student compositions, which I have them type up in Google Docs, are much easier to handle. I can guide students through multiple revisions of papers and track their activity at all times. This not only gives me insight into their personal work ethic and motivation, but also it allows me to have a student turn in a paper before they have even begun working on it. This means I have a lot fewer missing assignments. Additionally, accommodations for different learning needs of students are easier to manage because I can see in real time what they are comprehending and what they are missing.

Technology in the classroom has opened more opportunities to tap into each student’s creative flair. I frequently invite students to select the apps that they think will work best for different projects. This might mean Tellegami character narrating a book talk, or sock puppets acting out scenes of a Shakespeare play, or multi-media iMovies of a rhetorical advertisement. It is a joy for me to see students interpret their tasks is ways that I could never have imagined on my own.

Group work plays a big part in my curriculum, and Google Drive has added flexibility to that process. Through Google Drive, students are able to share their work with each other, and members can be given the ability to read other member’s work to use as guidance for their own contribution, or they can be given the ability to fully edit a project collaboratively. When minds are able to connect and work cooperatively together, greater individual learning is often the result.

I won’t say that a move to the digital classroom will not be without its moments of frustration, fear, and at times maybe a little loathing. However, for me the opportunities have far outweighed the frustrations, and I have no desire to look back.