Should I be planning my Primary School lessons on my computer?

Its a question that I am getting asked more and more and to be honest its causing a problem…..not for me but for teachers. So why is this and what’s causing it?

We live in an age of ever increasing technology and have seen the introduction of computers into the very heart of the classroom.

However this is causing teachers a problem as they are feeling pressured to deliver their curriculum using this technology – to put it very simply….

The tail is wagging the dog!

dog

Let me put it in a clear statement – you do not need to deliver the curriculum using technology in any way – nope not even your computer! Your computer and the technology in your school and classroom are simply extra tools and mediums through which you can ENHANCE the learning experience of your class – nothing more or less.

So if you find an opportunity where using technology would be great, then use it…if not then don’t bother. (please read my articles on Technology in the classroom and also on Use of screens)

Teaching is a profession where, as a teacher you are always learning and building your knowledge and experience. With every situation you encounter, every responsibility you undertake and every lesson you research and deliver you become a more accomplished and experienced teacher and staff member.

I have noticed a trend recently for teachers  to try to shortcut this learning process – no let me put it another way ….for teachers to eliminate the personal learning process and cut straight to the delivery of lessons. We have looked at the mistakes made in buying lesson plans online but this can be mirrored by the tendency now to ask others on internet forums and facebook groups for lesson plans or ideas for teaching …even requests for termly topic plans or Powerpoint presentations!

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When I see these sort of requests – and many of them are very very simple things, it shows a complete lack of involvement by that teacher in not only  their own learning experience, but the learning experience of their class.

An example of this would be as follows…..a teacher asked which flowers would be good to look at for the class to understand the structure of plants and pollination. Its a simple answer to give , but more deeply why didn’t they research this themselves or even visit the flower shop??

Ok , so getting back to the title for the article – with this apparent reluctance to research, plan and prepare , many teachers are looking for pre- packed materials that can be borrowed or bought from other sources and these materials are usually computer based.

Aside from the mistake of delivering without preparing (yes we can replace you with a T.A who can deliver lessons just as well!) it drives the school of thought that all lessons should be prepared this way…i.e on computer.

If you have read my article on Short term planning you will see that it is personal to the teacher and represents what is needed by that particular person to successfully deliver the lesson to that particular class – that’s all…no more and no less.

So do you need to have the lesson notes made on “notebook” or a “powerpoint presentation” that you can show  – NO YOU DON’T – and why are you spending time creating all these time consuming plans?

So lets look at the advantages of preparing your lessons on computer (in whatever form)

  • You can keep them and use them again
  • You can collate all the lesson resources (except equipment) in one place that is easily accessed
  • You don’t have to write on the board as all the information is presented to the children through the computer

Now lets look at some disadvantages

  • It takes a long time to prepare your presentation lesson material
  • If you have computer problems or associated then you cannot deliver the lesson
  • The lesson has to follow a pre-set format to match what you have prepared.
  • Lesson delivery is inflexible and cannot bend to the needs of the class as they understand the work
  • Childrens input cannot be easily reflected in written work.

So there are 2 sides to the argument.

For me one of the overriding things against using the computer to plan work is the time it takes….I can generally plan a lesson outline complete with information and questions to be asked etc (what ever I need) in about 15 minutes – less if it is a subject that I know. To prepare a powerpoint presentation would take much longer. When all teachers are hard pressed on time and work / life balance do we really need to be spending this extra time when its not really necessary?

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In teaching a lesson you should have your notes to hand to occasionally look at as the lesson progresses. If everything is on a memory stick then you can only refer to things as they appear. As lessons develop we, as teachers, can judge how the  lesson is being received and information absorbed and can restructure the learning as we progress – so in effect our lesson outcome may or may not arrive finally at our planned outcome for that day!

Using the computer for pre-planned lessons in this way, does not help this process; instead it forces the teacher to deliver the material whatever happens!.

As you may have guessed by now I am not a fan of lessons prepared and delivered by computer. I am a fan of using the computer to enhance the lessons I deliver but not restrict how I deliver them.

So in answer to the question should you use the computer to plan your lessons? – its an emphatic NO. Use them instead to enhance the children’s learning experience in the exciting learning environments that you are creating…and hey its quicker this way also!

Primary Practice would like to invite you to join our NQT and trainee teachers Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1347401775298840/?ref=bookmarks

Charles

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