Last week I spent the majority of the week in Des Moines with the Iowa Department of Education in training to become an Intel Master Teacher. It was a busy week, but very engaging week and I learned more about thinking with technology. In fact, the name of the course was Thinking With Technology and focused on how we can use technology to increase rigor in the classroom.
The biggest take away from the week was that we need to increase the rigor in everything we do. Whether you follow Bloom’s Taxonomy, Marzano’s Dimensions of Learning, or Costa and Kalick’s Habits of Mind, the rigor needs to be stepped up. Our students are going to enter a workforce that requires them to be able to think at these higher levels to solve complex problems with no clear solution. This was clearly the goal of the training and I believe should be the goal of all our courses regardless of the grade level. We need to help our students think more and deeper.
Three different web-based technologies were used to help increase rigor in the lessons. The first was a visual ranking tool that allows students to rank various items. While the tool itself doesn’t automatically push students to higher levels of thinking, with the right question it is the perfect tool to use to have students analyze and evaluate cotent. The second tool was a seeing reason tool, which at first comes off very similar to Inspiration. However, there were small, but important differences that makes this tool useful. This tool utilizes logic quite a bit to make students think how two or more concepts relate and why. The lines/arrows between terms show the relation and visually allow viewers to know how strong the relationship by the thickness of the line as well as the color (blue for positive and red for negative). The last tool was a showing evidence tool, which also required some logic. The tool has a cause and effect column, which allows students to add their own cause and/or evidence, state the quality of the evidence source, show strength/weakness of the evidence in relation to the cause and show whether the effect is positive or negative for a particular cause.
These tools are not anything too wild or exotic, but sometimes that’s a good thing. Low tech can often work well. Do these have some limitations? Yes, but are they still effective? Absolutely. You can check out the Intel Teach program here: www.intel.com/teachers. Also be looking for an announcement later this school year about an opportunity to take an Intel course taught by your’s truly!