I have been teaching GATE now for three years and have had many very EXCITING moments with MOTIVATED and CREATIVE students who have so much more to offer than what is often found in a 'normal' classroom. I believe students are often held back by teachers who are either ignorant of the possibilities available, too scared to try them, or simply to afraid to let go of all the POWER. In many cases teachers with perfect planning folders and pristine wall displays [often put together by the teachers themselves or their teacher aides and showing very little student work or depth of thinking] are lauded as the great success stories in a school when really what they are often doing is limiting their students. Students really begin to shine when they are given some guidance and inspiration mixed with creative freedom. OftenI find that the most impressive outcomes were never thought of before a project began. Students who are allowed to follow their own interests and design products that excite them will work feverishly and make sure they strive for quality.
Another factor than can help enhance the motivation of students, improve the quality of their outcomes and allow them the freedom to develop new ideas and skills is to digitally enhance the classroom. This means having a more than one or two computers, a robust network/server, good access to fast internet, access to a quality library, digital cameras, a digital video camera, headsets and recording equipment, a scanner and printer, teacher laptop and a data projector with a sound sytem. The computers could be mac or pc, but need to have a useful array of software including graphic organisers, word processing, spreadsheets, image editing, movie editing, sound recording and editing, and music composition. the children also benefit from access to an online forum and learning community like a class blog.
cooperative social learning in groups, independently, without restrictions of timetabling, access to equipment, etc, makes for very exciting learning. Before you know it, kids will be loving school, working together, designing books, comics, animations, composing scores, planning filming and editing movies, writing online for a world wide audience, giving and receiving feedback, blurring the boundaries of school, home and the 'real world', understanding complex ideas, sharing their understandings, acknowledging sources, learning from and becoming 'experts' - in short, surpassing what they can do in an isolated room with one supposedly all-powerful, all-knowing creature called a teacher.
some interesting links:
a NZ researcher on "digital classrooms"
The critical success factors involved in the implementation of a digital classroom in New Zealand
AUTHOR(S):Malcolm J. Roberts, Unitec New Zealand
DOCUMENT TYPE: Masters Dissertation
"The key to the success of a digital classroom is the teacher and the type of pedagogy that is used in the classroom. The teacher needs to take a facilitator role, implementing a constructivist learning environment where the student interacts seamlessly with the ICT in a rich multimedia learning environment. To be effective the ICT must be transparent. The inquiry process is an effective pedagogy to use with ICT. The study found that each classroom was at a different stage along the constructivist continuum. The most effective classroom had the teacher in a facilitator role and the students had freedom to learn using the digital tools. Digital classrooms have the potential to merge the new learning styles of today’s students with the power of the new emerging digital tools to produce a new generation of independent literate problem solving students."
Rotorua case study
An example of ICT integration