Encouraging Bad Practice

It completely discourages me when I see cool tech with decent potential for classroom use encouraging bad instructional practices.  For instance, Edgalaxy, A Site for Nerdy Teachers, recently posted an article about What2Learn, that “offers some really simple to create flash-based literacy games that you can either get your students to create or simply make the yourself.”  The post goes on to suggest ways to use the site and the interactive games in the classroom.  Great!  You’ve got my attention.

“It would be reasonable to expect a group of grade 3-4 students to be able to create a game in around 10 – 15 minutes so you could ask them to do this in a literacy rotation without too much hassle.”

Awesome idea!  They could create a game during literacy centers that explores the theme, main idea, mood, etc., of the current novel study they are doing, or literature circle they are a part of.  Love this idea!  What else have ya got??

“You could ask students to use their weekly spelling words……………”

Schreeeechhhh! Hold up………..weekly spelling words?  Really?  Are there really teachers out there that give weekly spelling tests?  Unfortunately, I know the answer to that question.  We don’t have time for these lower level tasks in this 21st century society.  Research and study after study have indicated how useless the practice of giving weekly spelling lists and tests are in improving a student’s spelling ability.  Posts like these validate bad practice for teachers who refuse to make much needed changes in their instructional styles.  There are so many more valuable ways to be spending class time than to give a kid a spelling list and have them memorize how to spell it.  And yet, with encouragement from posts such as the one mentioned above, we are giving teachers the idea that these bad practices are okay as long as there is technology involved.  Believe me, please infuse all the technology you can, but please don’t feel validated because you’ve taken an old, ineffective practice, and now use a different tool.  Technology alone will not automatically make a lower level task a higher order thinking task.

Now for my review of the site, What2Learn.  Simple to create and just as easy to embed as a YouTube video.  All but one of the game choices only allows for one word answers.  It’s difficult, if not impossible, to create higher level questions that require only one word answers.  I’m sure there are good ways this site is being used out there in the classroom, and I would love to see some examples that do not include the use of weekly spelling tests!  Please share!

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