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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Good Teaching: A One-to-One Setting

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant

In my work with one-to-one schools (those where each student has access to a computer -- preferably a wireless laptop) and those considering the move to the one-to-one model, I get to visit lots of classrooms. In some cases I work with kids and teachers, and sometimes I am an observer. It took me a while to gain clarity, but now I realize I agree with the saying, "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." ("The more things change, the more they stay the same.")

Good Teaching in a One-to-One Setting

Good teachers have always involved kids in engaging and purposeful learning activities. I have seen more kids "going places they shouldn't" in study halls at the end of the day than at any other time. Given the fact that far too often these study halls are really dumping grounds for kids not involved in band, chorus, or some other extra activity, it becomes clear to me that it is the study hall setup that is the issue. Bit of a lack of engagement there, eh?

Good teachers have always enjoyed being with their kids -- they like them. Teachers willing to work with kids get far more productivity out of a one-to-one program than those who think the kids work for them. The foundation for anything that happens in the classroom is the web of relationships among the members of that learning community. And this is true whether one-to-one is present or not. In fact, the relationships between teachers and students become even more important as the role of technology as an accelerator grows.

Good teachers have always been learners. When one-to-one comes to a school, there is so much to learn. Any sense of full control over what the students will do and exactly how they will do it has to disappear. Teachers willing to learn from the kids will have far more kids willing to learn from them.

Good teachers have always done projects. Project-based learning has to become a part of the way you teach in a one-to-one setting if you are going to get the most out of it. If all you do is automate the way schools have run forever, you will continue to get the same results, only digitized. When projects come into play, engagement goes up and the complexity of this world we are preparing young people to take on responsibility for becomes clear.

Good teachers have always brought the best resources to their kids, and made them accessible. In a one-to-one setting, this means identifying the best Web-based resources you can find, and having a classroom Web site you encourage kids to contribute to. When you place links to high-quality materials on the site, you magnify student access to the good stuff tremendously! Need a Web page? Head to 4teachers.org and use their Web Worksheet Wizard -- free!

Good teachers have always encouraged kids to speak up, and have always listened to their voices. Blogging and podcasting are rising stars, and, far from focusing on the technology, they look beyond it to amplify kids' voices. Class Blogmeister makes a teacher-managed blog a possibility, and Bob Sprankle's Room 208 blog is an example of what kids can do when they're supported by a teacher who loves to hear their voices and listen to their words.

Can you think of some other examples of good teaching in a one-to-one setting that is, truth be told, just plain old good teaching? Please share!

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant
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