Learning Time Increased by Technology

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As I have observed many classes this year, I am amazed at how much time is spent in low level learning tasks such as word searches, puzzles, doing handouts, coloring (high school level), making dioramas, creating posters, producing factual PowerPoints, web-surfing for facts, making imovies of non-important information, and creating podcasts. What if we had used that time for higher level learning activities?

Let’s say that during a unit of three weeks (15 days), four days are spent in lower-level activities of knowledge and comprehension (my guess is that most days are really spent in lower level activities in many classrooms). If we change it so that we spend two of those four days in higher level thinking activities of application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation, we would be doubling or tripling what the students understood about the topic. They would be learning more in-depth and with more comprehension. If there is time for 12 15 day units (180 instructional days) and if we do higher level learning for 2 days for each of the 12 units, we will have gained 24 days (or three weeks) of higher level learning. We are doubling or tripling the learning value for the same amount of time. We will have virtually added almost five school weeks to the students’ learning without ever changing the time of the school day or the school year. If we increase to three days of higher level learning for each of those 12 units, we would be up to 36 learning days (over 7 school weeks). Students would have learned the material to a greater depth and in a more comprehensive manner due to the higher level thinking learning.

How have you used technology to engage students in higher level thinking about your subject area standards? How have your doubled or tripled their learning in the same physical time that you used to spend in lower level learning?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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