From the Teacher’s Desk

Leonard
Leonard Quilty
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Teaching in the modern age

In my last column, I referenced a quote from Cisco Systems that suggested we’ve already moved from a one-room schoolhouse to a one-world schoolhouse.

I was reminded of the validity of this statement recently when a teacher in our office made me aware of a website called ‘e-pals’. On this free website, teachers and students can collaborate with other schools around the world on topics ranging from A to Z.

From a quick look at the site’s homepage recently, I noticed a project from a teacher in the United States who collaborated with another junior high class in Italy. Her project had students using email, wiki, and video conferencing to work together on a collaborative detective story.

With the many tools available to educators, like ‘e-pals’, it is indeed an exciting time to be a teacher.

When I first started my teaching career, the Internet, Google and Twitter were unavailable to teachers. In those days, for the most part, collaboration to improve teaching and learning involved sitting down with fellow teachers in your school or district and sharing best practices.

That type of teamwork was an effective means of trying to get better at your craft. But when you consider the abundance of resources available today through advances in computer technology, it’s amazing how far we’ve come even in the last few years.

Just last night I came across another interesting website called ‘wordia’. It’s one recommended by Richard Byrne at his site ‘www.freetech4forteachers.com’.

‘Wordia’ is a free visual dictionary. The website has a catchy byline: ‘bring words to life’. This is accomplished through the use of video, whereby users of the site (besides getting the spelling, meaning and etymology of a word) can learn about the personal connotation or meaning of a word through a short video segment that’s often hosted by a famous person.

"All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind." - Martin H. Fischer

Having spent a few minutes on the site last night, I was very impressed, not only with its overall quality, but also with the entertaining videos on words like ‘bottom’ and ‘discombobulate’. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Yes, pedagogy definitely takes on new power when teachers can supplement their lesson material with other components from the vast reservoir of knowledge on the World Wide Web. By doing so, both they and their students can become more engaged in the process of discovery on the journey of learning.

One of the things that attracted me to the teaching profession was the idea that by teaching others I could always be in the mode of a learner.

You’ve probably heard the adage: ‘to teach is to learn twice’.

It’s exciting to learn new information! I’m always grateful for the teachers in my life who created that sense of curiosity in me. One of my primary goals as an educator is to do the same for my students.

As Clay P. Bedford once said: “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.”

Organizations: Google, World Wide Web

Geographic location: United States, Italy

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