Beyond Technology to Learning

Problem-Based Learning:
A River in Trouble?

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Photo is Public Domain used with permission from the Army Corp of Engineers.

This is a three day, fifteen hour workshop that involves participants in writing in process, research and information literacy challenges.

Sample Lessons

The Premise:
New electronic tools and information might - if combined strategically with the best of classic tools and techniques - enhance the ability of students

  • to explore
  • to reason
  • to invent
  • to communicate
  • to persuade

The Danger:
The opposite might be true if we acquire lots of equipment but use it in powerpointless ways spawning the growth of mentalsoftness, glib thinking and a cut-and-paste mentality.

The Antidote:
The best defense against technology for technology's sake is a rigorous learning-focused program firmly grounded in the best traditions of schooling. We concentrate our efforts on reading, writing and thinking. We make literacy the centerpiece of our program. We emphasize student performance and learning. We prune and shed silly and fashionable distractions that might waste time or undermine performance.

Underpinning the learning programs we offer our students, we must provide certain crucial elements such as robust professional development for staff. We must also offer opportunities for unit and lesson development so that teachers have a clear sense of how to translate theory into practice.

Here and Now:
The fact that you are participating in this three day professional development challenge is an indication that you and your school recognize the importance of adult learning and the development of much more than technology or software skills. While you will depart with an impressive new array of such skills, this workshop will focus more particularly on how to wield these skills in service to thinking and learning. The emphasis will be upon literacy and the development of classroom lessons.

You should emerge from these three days with the following:

  1. A well defined personal sense of how to use new technologies efficiently, effectively and comfortably in combination with more classical resources like books.
  2. An enriched sense of how literacy can be the keystone tying together most effective program strategies and efforts.
  3. An expanded repertoire of teaching strategies.
  4. Concrete lesson plans to use with your students this school year.
  5. Growth of personal information problem solving skills such as prospecting, navigating, searching, interpreting, organizing and synthesizing.
  6. A set of strategies to teach information skills to your students.
  7. An increased comfort and skill level with software programs such as Inspiration™ and Office™.
  8. Greater confidence, comfort and enthusiasm with regard to the potential of new technologies to enhance student performance.

During these three days you will be enjoying four different strands, each devoted to a particular aspect of developing comfort and skill.

The Snake River Investigation You will work with a partner to find solutions to various issues swirling around the Snake River. What should be done?

This unit gives you a chance to experience first hand how new technologies combine with classic resources to enhance higher level thinking skills. Many of the skills you learn in the strands below will be learned within this context and in service to your exploration.

Sample Lessons

Research Modules & Effective Models Many teachers are finding that scaffolded lessons make for efficiency and quality learning.

You will have a chance to look at such lessons created by teachers in the United States and Australia with an eye toward building your own to use with your students this year.

Learning Information Skills Effective use of new information sources and tools requires an array of skills such as the use of Boolean Logic and effective search strategies.

You will have opportunities to extend your existing array of skills and sharpen your effectiveness. You will also consider ways to share these strategies with your students.

Learning Software Skills Much of what you learn about software will be blended seamlessly into the above strands. You will learn as you apply the software to real learning tasks.

Sometimes a new program or a new aspect of a program will be introduced separately and explicitly.

At the end of the three days you will be asked to check off on a list the software skills that you acquired during the workshop.

You will move along a path of activities designed to weave these four strands together meaningfully.



This site is produced by Jamie McKenzie
Editor of From Now On
© 2000, J. McKenzie, all rights reserved.
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