The Frog Blog

Thoughts from the Leapfrog Learning Center in Shrewsbury

part VI

Teaching Methodology … How teachers interact with students:

Technology has enabled a revolution in education through the use of computers to design interactive presentation formats that change the fundamental dynamics of how teachers interact with students in the classroom.  Classroom learning can be transformed into an interactive, multi-media experience controlled by a teacher with a remote control device who choreographs computers, customized video/audio, and large screen projection systems (displaying material as it becomes relevant to class discussion).  DVD technology can organize course material (video and animation) for access on demand by teachers.  I envision dynamic presentations which rotate between student/teacher dialogues and projections of programming that reinforces teaching targets.  Teachers will be taught how to subtly “surf” student comments and guide discussion in predetermined points illustrated by the videoware.  When done properly, students will feel they control the evolution of discussion through their comments and questions (think “scripted curriculum” carried to the next level).  Classroom discussions can seem open ended because the videoware will have many threads that lead to certain predetermined “lines of thought.”   The goal is to simulate a feeling of discovery where the quality of learning (comprehension and retention) will be superior because students will have a vested interest because they think they control the process.  In reality evolution of discussions will be subtly controlled by the teacher.  This will require special training and an intimate knowledge of what and how material is available on the videoware.  The role of teachers will rotate between a conduit to resources (by calling up video that illustrates what students are talking/asking about) and “discussion manager” who selects which student “comment threads” to follow.

Student “drop outs” have devastating consequences but “teacher drop outs” are equally problematic.  Time magazine reports America’s public schools now have 3.2 million teachers and 2.8 million will retire over the next seven years.  Finding replacements is complicated by the fact that 30% of all new public school teachers quit during their first three years on the job (50% in the first five years).  Low pay is part of the explanation but more important is the disillusionment from a system that simply does not work.  Failure guarantees low job satisfaction and little positive reinforcement.  Motivational programming is the solution because the mechanical process of teaching is totally different when children are enthusiastic and committed to learn.  Teacher drop out ratios will change dramatically if teachers are given the tools to succeed.  Recently, there has been growing support for holding teachers accountable for student performance.  People like Michelle Rhee in Washington have gotten considerable publicity for improving school performance by firing mediocre teachers.  Not surprisingly, this strategy has met with outrage from the teachers union.  Improving teacher quality is critical but the way to do this is by giving them a curriculum that works.  Pouring money into teachers’ salaries without fixing the resource infrastructure will just prolong our failure syndrome.  Support from the teacher’s union is an essential part of educational reform.  This support can be ensured by making them an integral part of designing a motivational curriculum.

Visit the leapfrog learning center nj and see where the solution to the education crisis evolved

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