This past week I team taught a lesson with my colleague, Chonsey Pogue, to our MAET year 1 colleagues. Our lesson was based on the central idea that thinking has not changed, even with the internet as a new medium to obtain information. Pinker and Schank (2011) had similar opinions about the topic of the internet changing the way we think. Pinker makes a point in his article to say that “electronic media aren’t going to revamp the brain’s mechanisms of information processing”. According to Schank, “Thinking hasn’t changed. What has changed is how we find evidence, how we interpret the evidence we have found, and how we find available explanations from which to choose.”
The brain is a unique part of everyone. In the end, we all think with our brain. Each individual may have a different mindsets based upon their previous experience. For all intent and purposes, this mindset varies. How we think hasn’t changed, how we obtain information has. With technology today, it is easy to quickly find a vast amount of information via the internet. However, it doesn’t make the information better or worse than obtaining information elsewhere. In fact, this information can be similar, maybe even the same. Humans think about information outside the world wide web the same way as they think about information from our friend, the internet. We shouldn’t throw away information of one kind or another. In school and out of school, students should know that both online and offline information is useful and thoughtful.
Our lesson consisted of a mini-lesson for colleagues about MSU and the state of Michigan. We chose this as our mini-lesson because we have a diverse group of colleagues who teach all over the world. Chonsey and I decided to literally team teach this lesson and split our class into two groups. I taught one group in a traditional style and Chonsey taught one group in a flipped style. Both groups of students learned the exact same content but received it from different sources (human interaction vs. the internet). We wanted to make it clear that there are multiple ways to get to one solution. Concluding our lesson, we represented the idea that thinking hasn’t changed by using Kahoot and Padlet.
We chose to use Kahoot to model the idea that the information learned was the same and that our colleagues came up with the same answers whether they used the internet or not. The affordance of Kahoot is that the game was very interactive, easy to create your own, and it is free. The visuals on the “clicker” have colors and shapes so that color blind students can still participate. The constraints are that you would need wifi to make this work in your classroom. When I used this tool in my kindergarten classroom, we were limited to using it in the computer lab because I did not have wifi to support other devices in the classroom. This activity distinctly modeled the idea of Schank because it modeled the idea that “what has changed is how people find their evidence”. The internet is easy access and people use the internet more now just for that very reason. The internet is more convenient than going to the library or asking an expert.
Padlet was another digital tool we chose to use because we wanted to facilitate a discussion related to Pinker’s idea that information processing is the same. This was a base for our discussion on both articles. It was evident that how our colleagues learned was different, but that they still processed the same information. Many people commented about which lesson (flipped or traditional) catered better to their learning styles, which I also found interesting. The affordance of Padlet is that everyone that is collaborating and adding to the board can see what others are writing. The constraint is that the board can get messy, which can be distracting for some learners. The messiness could cause a student to disengage if there was too much visual noise.
Reflecting on our lesson, what I would have done differently next time is send students in the flipped classroom off on their own to watch the video so that they wouldn’t have been distracted by the face to face learning that was also happening in the same classroom. I also would have allowed more wait time for discussion following activities. I felt that we didn’t allow enough time for people to get involved in the content and voice their own thinking and connections to the readings. Instead, we answered our own questions too soon. I would also change the font on the Haiku Deck presentation so that the shortened url we had was easy to read without discrepancies. This was a technical glitch that we dealt with in a very calm and smooth manner. For my mini-lesson, I wish I had printed out pictures to pass around rather than showing the images on my phone. This could have truly been a “low tech” lesson, if I had done that. I would have also made my mini-lesson shorter in length, so that we could have focused on the content of the readings, and not entirely on the content about MSU and the state of Michigan. Overall, I think we still did a good job summarizing and hitting home that thinking hasn’t changed.
Pinker, S. (2011). Not at all. In J. Brockman (Ed.), Is the Internet changing the way you think? Retrieved from http://edge.org/response-detail/11247
Schank, R. (2011). The thinking process hasn’t changed in 50,000 years. In J. Brockman (Ed.), Is the Internet changing the way you think? Retrieved from http://edge.org/response-detail/11519