Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

10 Outdated Teaching Techniques

We are always learning more about the science of teaching. Technology and societal changes shift what we can do and what we value. Here are 10 outdated teaching techniques.
10 Outdated Teaching Techniques

The goal of education today is to … probably not everyone would agree on how to finish that sentence. The original goals of public education should have shifted since the society that existed at the time has dramatically changed. Every year educational research is conducted. New techniques are tried out in classrooms. Technology provides new opportunities to do things that were previously impossible. Technology has changed… well everything! Even farming! I was talking recently to a farmer that was showing me how GPS is used to grow corn. To pretend that technology has not disrupted education is simply burying your head in the sand. So what practices were common in the 1900’s but now are outdated teaching techniques?

Teaching like it is the 1900’s is malpractice

Teaching like it is the 1900's is malpractice with outdated teaching techniques

10 Outdated Teaching Techniques

I got a little help from ChatGPT on this. I indicated the AI paragraphs with a robot head 🤖 I embrace the future simply because I can’t fight it. Trying to ban technologies rather than adapt to them is a silly game of whack a mole that I will not win.

1. Punishment for Discipline

🤖Using punishment as a primary form of discipline: Research has shown that punishment, such as detention or time-out, is not effective in promoting long-term behavior change and can actually have negative consequences for students. Instead, teachers should focus on using positive reinforcement and creating a positive classroom culture to promote good behavior.

👋 As you hopefully know, I am really into student centered classrooms. The industrial revolution model of teaching students to follow directions unquestionably is outdated. Most of our students will not be blindly following directions. Jobs that can be blindly followed will be replaced by robots.

outdated teaching techniques is students in detention

2. Lectures First

AI generated image contrasting outdated teaching techniques for the 5 E's lesson plan model

🤖Using traditional paper-and-pencil assessments: While traditional assessments, such as multiple choice tests or written essays, can be useful for evaluating student learning, they do not always accurately reflect what students know and are capable of. Teachers should consider using a variety of assessment techniques, such as projects, presentations, and authentic assessments, to better evaluate student learning.

3. Paper and Pencil Assessments

🤖Using lectures as the primary form of instruction: Lectures can be effective for introducing new concepts, but they are not the most engaging or effective way to facilitate learning. Teachers should consider using a variety of teaching techniques, such as hands-on activities, problem-based learning, and collaborative projects, to engage students and promote deeper learning.

Giant pencil in a traditional classroom

👋 It is tempting to think that the response to “cheating apps” such as Photomath and ChatGPT is to revert back to paper and pencil where we are watching the students. However, these tools help us to take students further. These tools are part of the NORM. To ignore them and pretend they do not exist does not prepare students for the future and is fighting a losing battle. Assessments do not need to be tests!! Having a conversation with a student, allowing them to create a project or presentation. These are ways we can alternatively assess students.

👋 Technology should CHANGE how we do things. Not simply a transfer of a paper task to the computer. Having a test on the computer allows for transformation by providing data. This data can be used to reteach, target resources, work with individual students, and provide specific answers about what the class knows… beyond my gut. Teacher time is valuable. It takes less time to create digital assessments than grading stacks of paper ones. Students get immediate feedback and teachers can use their time to create engaging lessons, provide intervention resources, or work with students.

4. One Size Fits All

AI image of a one size fits all education

🤖Using a “one size fits all” approach: Every student is unique, with their own strengths, weaknesses, and starting point. Teachers should strive to create a learning environment that is inclusive and responsive to the needs of all students, rather than using a cookie-cutter approach to instruction.

👋 Fair is not equal. Giving all students the same assignment/instruction may seem fair but not all students came into the lesson with equal resources, knowledge, or interests. Differentiating for students without technology is to say the least a challenge…. even with technology it is challenging. With the Internet information is freely available. No longer is a student required to get their information from the person at the front of the room. The proliferation of different resources for how to access information as well as different options for demonstrating learning makes what used to be impossible, now possible.

5. Purpose is Content Knowledge

🤖Focusing solely on content knowledge: While it is important for students to acquire knowledge and skills in a particular subject area, it is equally important for them to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills. Teachers should strive to create lessons that foster these skills in addition to imparting content knowledge.

👋 We learn what we use. We forget what we do not use. There is research available to show that what we learn for the purpose of a test we forget. Was the purpose to do well on a test or to be able to apply and use the knowledge? Honestly no one in today’s day and age will be crippled if they don’t know a content fact. It can be easily looked up at almost any time. The immediate access to information will not decline, it will only become more available. This allows us as teachers to instead focus on building critical thinking skills. How to access and critique information. What to DO with information rather than simply recall the information.

“A deeper processing of information leads to better retention,” said Dr. Palombo. “When you are first encoding new information, try to relate that new information to things you already know.”

“UBC Students”. (n.d.). “Science: Why We Forget What We Just Learned”. Retrieved from https://students.ubc.ca/ubclife/science-why-we-forget-what-we-just-learned.

6. Grades as Motivators

🤖Using grades as the primary motivator: Research has shown that grades do not necessarily reflect a student’s true abilities or learning, and they can often be demotivating. Instead of using grades as the primary motivator, teachers should focus on providing meaningful feedback and setting clear learning goals to motivate students.

👋 Grades fuel the game of school rather than inspiring learning. Students can be risk adverse to try new things when their goal is to get a good grade rather than to be challenged. Yet it is my belief that people love to learn. Who doesn’t feel good when they truly accomplish something they put effort into? Grades were invented in the 1700’s by a dude at Yale as a way to rank and sort students. NEVER were grades designed as a way to motivate learning.

👋 Standards based grading is becoming more popular. Alternative ways to record student learning are being used in some schools. It is my opinion, no research to back this up, that the biggest hinderance to ditching a system that is in contrast to what many of us perceive as the purpose of school is THE GRADEBOOK. We are sold an electronic gradebook that takes away our ability to easily assess students how we want to assess them. Your school has not gone standards based, yet you want to do SBG? You’ll have to hack the gradebook. Want a better way to assess students than grades? You’ll have to hack Google Classroom and it won’t be easy. It is my opinion that we allow non educators, EdTech companies, to define what we are able to do with assessing students and without significant efforts are pigeonholed into old ways of thinking.

7. Strict Seating Charts

🤖Using strict seating charts: Research has shown that students learn best when they are comfortable and feel a sense of ownership over their learning environment. Allowing students to choose their own seats, within certain guidelines, can help foster a sense of ownership and promote a positive learning environment.

👋 I am a sucker for flexible seating. The furniture and the arrangement of the furniture in the room is a huge determinant of the culture of the room. Desks are in rows facing forward… this signals to students that the focus is the front and that they should passively sit and get. Allowing students to sit in ways that encourage collaboration will result in more interactions between students. Being passionate about student centered classrooms it is important that the focus is on students rather than the front of the room. I personally want to “defront” the room. Having a Smart board or other fixed projection spot keeps bringing the attention back to the front. My ideal classroom has smaller screens around the room that can be projected to without a “face forward” requirement.

8. Punishing Failure

🤖Using punishment for failure: Rather than punishing students for failing, teachers should view failure as an opportunity for learning and growth. By providing support and guidance, teachers can help students overcome challenges and learn from their mistakes.

growth mindset

👋 One of my favorite books of all time is Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. [This in my opinion is NOT a book about math, but rather a book about teaching.] She shows brain research in the book that our brains grow, make connections, when we make a mistake. If we want to foster a growth mindset in students we need to value failure as part of the learning process. Dr. Boaler says in her book that we should possibly give MORE credit for a wrong answer than a right answer. You’ll definitely need to read the book as I can not summarize this in a sentence.

9. Technology is a Choice

🤖Failing to incorporate technology: While technology can’t replace good teaching, it can be a powerful tool for enhancing instruction and engaging students. Teachers should strive to incorporate technology in meaningful ways that support learning objectives.

👋 Do not say on one hand that you are preparing students for college or “the real world” and then on the other hand say that using technology is a choice. Student futures WILL use technology. It will require they are able to easily pick up a new tech tool. That they are digitally literate. That they can use search techniques to find information. AND VERY IMPORTANTLY that they can vet the information for knowing if it is factual. I have had students tell me they saw it on Instagram so they know it is true. [facepalm]

👋 Not everything needs to be done on technology. I am a big fan of paper. However, my use of paper is not so I can prevent cheating but sometimes that is the best medium for the activity. Mix it up. When you do use technology it should enhance the learning not simply make it digital.

Image of a modern teaching situation where students are using technology

10. Traditional Textbooks

🤖Using traditional textbooks as the primary resource: While textbooks can be a useful resource, they are not always the most engaging or up-to-date source of information. Teachers should consider using a variety of resources, such as online articles, videos, and primary sources, to supplement traditional textbooks and provide a more comprehensive learning experience.

👋 We are in the information age! Textbooks do not update daily. Old school textbooks do not adapt to the unique learning needs of our students. Textbooks do not have current events!

More and more textbooks are becoming a resource instead of THE source.

Outdated Teaching Techniques

Embracing change in teaching methods is essential for educators. “Outdated teaching techniques” often evoke images of disengaged classrooms and ineffective learning strategies. This guide will help you identify and transition away from these outdated methods, towards more effective teaching practices.

Recognizing Disengagement

Noticing disengagement is the first step. When students seem uninterested or unmotivated, it’s often a sign that the teaching methods being used are not capturing their attention, a key component for effective learning.

Addressing Retention Issues

Retention issues can signal the need for a change. When students struggle to remember information, it suggests that a more interactive and engaging approach could significantly enhance their learning experience.

Evaluating Student Performance

Observing student performance is crucial. Lack of improvement in comprehension or performance is a clear indication that your current methods might need revising, especially in adapting to the diverse learning styles in your classroom.

Enhancing Real-World Application

Connecting lessons to the real world is imperative. If students are unable to apply classroom learning in real-life situations, it’s a strong indicator that the teaching techniques need to be more practical and application-focused.

Strategies for Revitalizing Your Teaching

Embrace Continuous Learning

It’s vital to stay informed about the latest educational research and best practices. Engaging in ongoing professional development and diving into current educational literature are key steps in keeping your teaching methods fresh and effective.

Value Feedback for Improvement

Actively seeking feedback from students and colleagues is a powerful tool for identifying and phasing out outdated teaching methods. This feedback can provide crucial insights into areas needing change.

Integrate Modern Technology

In today’s digital age, incorporating technology in the classroom is no longer optional. It’s a dynamic tool that can make lessons more engaging and relevant, enhancing the overall learning experience.

Experiment with New Approaches

Don’t hesitate to try new teaching methods. Stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to more innovative and effective teaching, breathing new life into your classroom.

Collaborate for Broader Perspectives

Working with other educators opens doors to new ideas and strategies. Collaboration fosters a culture of continuous improvement and helps keep your teaching methods aligned with current educational trends.

By actively moving away from outdated teaching techniques and embracing these strategies, educators can create a more engaging, inclusive, and effective learning environment for their students.

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