Avoiding the Quick Fix: Using Technology to Implement Effective Teaching Strategies

Thigh Master

“People have a deep-seated need to believe that someone has an answer to whatever ails us. When things don’t work out, we’re disinclined to pause and ask if we’re going about this all wrong or if our whirligig activity is part of the problem.”  – Rick Hess Warren Buffett, Ping-Pong, and School Reform

Fads and Fixes

We love the quick fix.  Lose 21 lbs in 21 days.  Get toned arms for Spring Break by spending 90 minutes a day with Tony Horton.  Want to coach your team to a Super Bowl?  Try allowing Ping Pong in your locker room.  While each of these strategies may work, they rely on the promise of a quick fix, rather than sound reasoning.

As professionals, we take pride in what we do and work hard to become more effective at our jobs.  Consequently, it’s easy to get caught up in the quick fix mentality.  Regardless of the new technology or exciting initiative, we know that the most important factor (that we can control) in a student’s education is the teacher.  In other words, technology cannot replace a highly effective (or ineffective) teacher.  As we work to implement technology into our classrooms, we must be mindful of this.

Online Resources

Technology use must be rooted in sound, research based teaching strategies, incorporated “systematically and intentionally.”  These are well known and should be implemented into every classroom, every day.  Below are several of the most effective techniques, based on Marzano’s Nine High Yield Strategies, along with examples of how technology can aide execution.

  • Setting Objectives – The key to making your students’ learning experiences worthwhile is to focus your planning on major instructional goals. Without clear goals, the lesson will not be effective.
    • Online KWL Chart – Activate students’ prior knowledge with this online KWL.
    • ReadWriteThink – Use one of the many online resources to have students put learning targets in their own words and keep track of learning.
    • QuizStar – Create a quick quiz to see what students know about a new subject or quickly review the previous day’s lesson.
    • Online UBD Framework – Begin with the end in mind. Use the Understanding By Design Template to ensure your learning targets are written clearly and in student friendly language.
  • Checking for Understanding – Checking for understanding is part of a formative assessment system in which teachers identify learning goals, provide students feedback, and then plan instruction based on students’ errors and misconceptions.
  • Providing Feedback – Information about how we are doing in our efforts to reach a goal.
    • Screencast-O-Matic – Teachers can record their screen to provide valuable feedback to students.
    • OneNote – Provide valuable information and feedback to students.
    • Forms – Use Microsoft Forms to provide personalized information to students.
  • Cooperative Learning – focuses on having students interact with each other in groups to enhance their learning.
  • Summarizing and Note Taking – Promotes greater comprehension by asking students to analyze a subject to expose what’s essential and then put it in their own words. This should be research based and interactive.
  • Cues, Questions, and Advanced OrganizersCues, questions, and advance organizers help students use what they already know about a topic to enhance further learning.
  • Nonlinguistic Representations – Knowledge is stored in two forms: linguistic and visual. The more students use both forms in the classroom, the more opportunity they have to achieve.
  • Homework and Practice – Homework provides students with the opportunity to extend their learning outside the classroom.

Do What Works

Science tells us that if we take in less calories than we expend, weight will go down.  If a muscle is stressed, it will break down and become stronger.  Great coaches know that team chemistry is important, but improving skills (and talent) are key to eventually becoming a championship team.  As educators, we know that improving our instruction is the most effective way to achieve student success.  As a result, we must ensure that our technology use is rooted in research based teaching strategies.

JWToday’s thoughts come to us from Mr. Jake Wiese. Jake is the Principal of Shenandoah High School, located in Middletown, Indiana.  He has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies Education from Purdue University, a Master’s Degree in Education and Administrator’s License from Indiana Wesleyan University, and an Educational Specialist Degree from Indiana State University.    

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