Many times, we don’t have to totally redesign our lesson plans to get the most out of the technology we have available to us.
A little upgrade can make a big difference.
And even though technology won’t make your lesson sing by itself, it can unlock some pretty powerful teaching and learning.
You can find a great collection of these lesson upgrades in Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning by Scott McLeod and Julie Graber. I just recently picked up this book and LOVE the practical ideas for upgrading lessons — and learning — with tech.
The authors introduce us to a protocol called “4 Shifts” that helps us think through more meaningful technology use. I’ve summarized it into an infographic below! (Note: I took some liberties to shrink it down to very few words and a bunch of icons, so get the full picture from the book itself!)
The 4 Shifts protocol asks teachers lots of questions to help them upgrade their lessons — or redesign / reimagine lessons all together.
Don’t think of the questions as an all-inclusive, “must have everything” checklist for a good lesson. (If you do, you’ll probably come up short every time!) Instead, take one of them and use it to help you upgrade your lesson.
Here are 10 questions derived from 4 Shifts that you can ask yourself to upgrade your lesson:
- Do learning activities and assessments allow students to engage in complex and messy (not simple) problem solving?
- Do students have the opportunity to design, create, make or otherwise add value that is unique to them?
- Is student work authentic and reflective of that done by experts outside of school?
- Are students creating real-world products or performances for authentic audiences? If yes, does student work make a contribution to an audience beyond the classroom walls to the outside world?
- Are students utilizing authentic, discipline-specific tools and technologies? (i.e. the actual tools and technologies that people in that discipline use)
- Who selected what is being learned and how it is being learned?
- Who selected which technologies are being used?
- Do students have the opportunity to initiate, be entrepreneurial, be self-directed, and go beyond the given parameters of the learning task or environment?
- Are digital technologies being used to facilitate the communication processes? (i.e. writing, photo/images, charts/graphs, infographics, audio, video, multimedia, transmedia)
- Are digital technologies utilized by students in both appropriate and empowering ways? (i.e. promoting digital citizenship)
By focusing on one area and upgrading your lesson — or building lessons around several areas — you can help students achieve that deeper learning that will make a difference.
In the book, Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning, the authors offer many more questions like the ones above and example primary- and secondary-level lessons redesigned with the 4 Shifts protocol.
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