I’m in the early stages of planning a new introductory computer systems unit for my grade 9 information and communication technology class and I would like the unit to meet one or two of the NETS for students.
Last week, as I was reading through and getting my head around the NETS for students, I was copying and pasting those standards that my new grade 9 unit on computer systems has the potential to meet. (I would like to mention here that the method I’ve used to get the unit to its present form certainly isn’t the best example of backward design the world has ever seen. I started out by defining the learning outcomes (pulled straight from the syllabus). Then I went through and (very roughly) defined the enduring understanding, essential questions and GRASPS task. And now I’ve reiterated back to the top, but this time I’m defining the NETS that I’d like the unit to address. Once this is done, I plan on revisiting and redefining the enduring understanding and remaining parts.) By the time I had read through all of the standards, I had copied and pasted quite a number. This really didn’t come as a surprise to me as the unit’s going to be learnt in a computer lab using computers. But this led me to ask the question: What about the other subject I teach, math? Can any of these standards be reached in a classroom-bounded subject such as math?
After a quick search on Google, I came across some examples of how one teacher in the US is enabling her students to reach the NETS standards in math. One of the ideas that caught my attention was that she arranges video conferences between her classes and professionals who frequently deal with mathematical problems. I like this because it opens students up to ideas they otherwise wouldn’t have thought of – a side of math they otherwise wouldn’t have seen. Furthermore, it can be replicated in almost any classroom – all that’s required is a laptop with Skype, a projector, some speakers, a microphone and a professional!
Later, I was thinking about whether I know any “math” professionals that my class could Skype with. Well, not only was the answer a resounding yes, but I also realised that we all have networks of professionals out there (friends, former teachers, colleagues), all of whom would be more than willing I’m quite sure to share their experience with a group of middle schoolers.