Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Mistake of Waiting

I feel a great deal of pressure to master a program before I teach it. Why? Traditionally the teacher is the master of the curriculum, and has well crafted lesson plans that have stood the test of time. My biology teacher from high school had a lesson book that he had his daily lessons handwritten in, and he followed them year after year.

But as computer teachers, we don't have a textbook, or a curriculum, and the landscape of applications and how people use them changes daily. So how do we master our craft before teaching it to the kids?

I think I will just start teaching Sketchup in just over a week and a half. I don't have more than a beginner's skill level with it, but I know why I want to teach it. It teaches, math, art, and critical thinking. And so we shall start. My criteria will be simple. I will tell the kids how I know this is great application for them to learn. I will then tell them I haven't mastered it, and my lesson plans are kind of loosey goosey at this point.

Here is what they will do:

Meeting Expectations: Follow and reproduce the simple lessons from the Google Sketchup Channel on Youtube.

Fully Meeting Expectaions: Create the world's best doghouse, and put it somewhere nice on earth.

Exceeds Expectations: Re-design the classroom. In another video on youtube, Rip Van Winkle wakes after 100 years. He is out of place in the modern workplace, hospitals have advanced beyond his recognition, but he feels at home in schools because nothing much has changed there. So, lets get the kids together, and tell us how class should look so that they would best learn.

If they can prove they know more than I do about the program, good. If they can do something with it, build something with it, that's great.

It's ok not to be able to know all the buttons and switches. Its ok as the teacher to be shown by a student that you don't know it all.

You don't need to know it all to start a good idea. You just need to know why its a good idea. You can figure out the rest as you go.

Leap, and the net shall appear.


James McConville said...

WOW - this is an amazing lesson. I hope other teachers learn from all the amazing things you're doing!

James Gill said...

Thanks for your support - supporting my classroom, and supporting our district.