The Wheel Is There

The Green Wheel at Roskilde Festival 2009photo © 2009 Stig Nygaard | more info (via: Wylio)

Have you ever said this phrase: “Don’t reinvent the wheel.” For me it’s always been a phrase to remind me to quit over-thinking something. That I was making something too difficult. That I was trying to recreate something that has already been created. Perhaps a reminder for me to just put my own unique spin on something.

I find myself saying this to teachers when working with them to integrate technology. Not in a negative way, but just as a reminder to not let the idea of students using more technology seem so daunting and like they have to reinvent their teaching. I’d rather them think more on the “why” in regards to using technology than the “what”. Focus on the skills not the tools as my friend Bill Ferriter has said. Now, does that mean teaching practices won’t change? I hope they do change. I’d think that by making technology use more of a priority, working to get it more commonplace, our teaching methods would change for the better. I’m not talking about what we’re teaching (content is content), I’m talking about how we’re teaching.

If you’re thinking of trying a new technology tool/idea/website to bring to your classroom for the 2011-2012 school year, don’t feel like you have to reinvent the wheel. Think about how it’s going to enhance what you’re already teaching, how it will make you a better teacher. How it will get your students having meaningful conversations about what they’re learning. How it will get students creating and sharing their learning in new ways.

Don’t feel like you have to try technology tools X,Y, and Z all during first semester. Or even the whole year! Pick one, stick with it for a reasonable amount of time, and be sure to involve students in the conversation about how it went. Get their feedback. Listen to them.

The wheel is there. Think more on the learning and where you can take your students.

4 thoughts on “The Wheel Is There”

  1. Hey Kyle,

    Totally agree with you and understand what you are saying. I have been thinking a lot about this and the following statement of yours:

    “I’d rather them think more on the “why” in regards to using technology than the “what”. Focus on the skills not the tools as my friend Bill Ferriter has said.”

    That is so important but what is kind of weird to me right now is that so many people are trying to put resources together for Google + in education. This is where I am kind of stuck because there is the balance between being ahead of the curve and innovative (vision), but on the other side, where we as educators (including me) are taking a tool and trying to fit it to the kid. Will kids migrate there? If they don’t, will we make them? I have seen things like “Sharepoint” flop because kids do not care to go to some closed “school” site, but want to use things that mean nothing to them. On the other hand, I remember kids telling me that Facebook was stupid when it first started, now it has become some sort of rite of passage.

    Just thought I would think out of loud in your blog. Great post Kyle 🙂 Hope all is well.


    1. Hey George thank you for your comment! I’m right there with you on the Google+ thing. There’s shortage of “Why Google+ is awesome” posts and articles out there. I even saw it already called a “game changer” last week. Really? We’re going to slap that title on something again? I also wrote this post a while back where I had some similar thoughts about going for the next big thing. If you look at Facebook and who was there first, it was the opposite of what teachers are doing with Google+ isn’t it? Teenagers were all over Facebook way before education was thinking about it. It seems now that education is the first one to shout “Google+ is awesome!”. Maybe we need to think about getting them to migrate there without them knowing we want them to migrate there? 🙂 More question marks….ha ha.

      Thanks again for your post George. I hope you’re having a great summer and have a great upcoming school year.

  2. Hey Fellas,

    I really like this strand of conversation. Steven Johnson argues in Where Good Ideas Come From that truly sustainable change is evolutionary, not revolutionary. It comes from thinking at the edges of the box—instead of out of the box.

    I think that fits nicely with Kyle’s wheel metaphor. Changing schools requires starting with what we know.

    And I hate the tool-first thinking that we see when we pimp out things like Google +. While teachers have to be aware of the potential in new tools—guys like us are constantly experimenting—we shouldn’t be looking for which new tools we’re going to introduce to our kids.

    Instead, we should be looking for which new tools can help us to more effectively and efficiently connect them to new ideas, individuals and opportunities.

    Learning is social play. It’s intellectual experimentation.

    If a tool makes that possible for more kids in more schools, it’s worth pursuing.

    If we pursue a tool for any other reason, we’re wasting everyone’s time.

    Good thinking with yas,

  3. Good morning,
    Love the thought behind this post, It reminds me of teachers last year being frustrated because students don’t check their email. Of course they don’t check their email, they are texting and tweeting now, email is not their method. I’ll be interested in following the Google + evolution as it applies to students as well. I have 3 boys 19, 21 and 24 and none are interested in it at this point. @kyle “be sure to involve the students….” exactly! Throwing a tool at a problem/project won’t solve it, unless we talk about how/when/why to use that tool.

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