Binders, although still used, are slowly becoming… not quite obsolete (we still use paper handouts!), but less useful. I’ll explain.
I began teaching in 1999. I used the usual format of objectives, instructions, resources, and curriculum expectations to guide me as I planned my lessons. I printed out hard copies of each unit plan, overhead transparencies and handouts. Post-it notes were used to plan changes for the next time I approached the topic and/or materials that were used. Resources (such as VHS tapes) were stored in the cupboard where I knew to find them the next semester.
Some things haven’t changed. I still look to the curriculum expectations to guide my thoughts so that I have a clear goal in mind for student learning. I sort out my thoughts on paper and figure out instructions (ideally before I approach a new topic with my class!). My planning, though, has definitely veered off its usual path. The availability of online resources has shaken my patterned approach to teaching my students. It sure was snug in that predictable cocoon of well-used, perfected lessons, but to ignore the world of opportunities that is available by simply incorporating technology in my class would be negligent. It’s a bit tricky to navigate through what can feel like an exhaustive amount of material, though. A colleague shared a picture about the wealth of information available to us online: http://www.flickr.com/photos/will-lion/2595497078/.
I am granted a certain amount of predictable* material in my class since I teach art: painting techniques, explorations on the potter’s wheel, experiments with charcoal and graphite all provide a solid base to a teacher whose programming is beginning to shift. By using YouTube clips, going on online virtual museum tours (such as the amazing Google Art Project), working on experimental new projects (like the one shown here), and planning to use Skype to chat with museum educators, my once well-referred-to binder is beginning to feel a bit neglected as it sits on the shelf behind my desk.
As I find new websites, blogs or videos that serve as resources, I find that I simply send the link in an email to myself or I tweet the link so that I can find it more easily (and share it with my growing PLN). In a way, my archives of self-sent emails and tweets/retweets has become a virtual binder. Problem is: how do I keep track of all this new information? Is there a way of organizing it efficiently? Do I write down each new website with a description of how it is used on a sticky note & store it in my binder? How does a teacher merge two methods of storing & using information?
If you don’t mind sharing your thoughts, I’d love to find out how you keep up with changes too!
‘*’: The word predictable should never be used lightly when referring to the activities in any classroom. 🙂