- When trying to bridge the
"knowing-doing" gap, it's important to
look at the world a little differently.
For example, you probably share curriculum
ideas within your school. However, what's
your definition of "sharing." Is it "show
and tell" or "interact with peers"?
- Sharing Tacit Knowledge
- Tacit knowledge involves all those
elements of understanding that relate to
sharing an "experience." It goes beyond
"show-and-tell" by detailing, not just
telling what happened, but providing an
interpretation of why and how you think
the project was effective or ineffective.
You're sharing expertise. For example,
many lesson plans provide a list of
materials such as books, videos, graphics,
websites and real objects. However how was
the list created, what was not included
and why? Which were the most valuable
resources and why?
- Big Ideas
to Small Steps
- Bridging the Gap
- Snake Unit. Let's take the example of a
snake unit. You might list the book called
Verdi by Jannell Cannon. However when sharing
the book with others you might talk about using it as
a read-aloud book, the value of the illustrations, or
the moral of the story. These ideas don't come out in
a simple list on a lesson plan. In the same way, a
list of websites isn't as useful as an annotated list
with a description of why the page was selected. Was
it the easy-to-read text, the organization, the use of
graphics, or the content itself you found the most
useful? In the snake example, the Indianapolis
Museum's snake page contained simple information
to go with the snake in the book, Verdi. The
webquest gets students involved in the content,
quiz lets students practice simple vocabulary, and
story is a great resource to practice screen
- Find Intangibles. Look for the intangible
elements of a lesson. The best way to draw out tacit
knowledge is through questioning. Was the project fun,
easy, hard, boring, or difficult? What were the
strengths and weaknesses? What worked well and poorly?
What resources were helpful in terms of people and
materials? What could undermine this type of project?
How did the students react? Like any reflection,
questions are helpful.
Discussions. If you try this
type of discussion in your building, consider
practicing the role of facilitator. Watch how the
group interacts. Are they sharing "facts" or
"insights"? Are they doing more "telling" or
"interacting"? Do they provide examples beyond the
basic lesson or other applications of the idea? Do
they focus on problems or solutions? Get your group to
begin moving from simple "show-and-tell" to a more
complex level of interaction and sharing.
- Using Talk to Inspire Action
- In many cases, we substitute talk for action. For
example, we may make decisions, show presentations,
prepare documents, create plans, and write mission
statements rather than taking action and implementing
a project. This often happens at conferences where you
attend sessions, but go back to your school and do the
"same old thing." The key is to use those conference
contacts as soon as you get home. For example, a group
of teachers from around the world met at a conference
and then created a web-based project called Earth
- Focus on Curriculum. Rather than placing
the emphasis on the technology, focus on curriculum.
Look at good teaching practice for ideas. Choose a
content area or skill such as reading for the
emphasis. For example, you might decide that you need
a series of texts on the same topic, at different
reading levels. You might be able to find them on the
Internet, or get someone to create them for you. For
example, we created easy and more difficult texts for
each of our animals in our NatureScapes
- Think Simply. Many people talk instead of
taking action because implementation involves time,
money, and effort. Value and reward simplicity. Not
all your projects need to be huge. Go to your
"regular" teachers, not just your "techie" teachers
for ideas. It might be an "ask-an-expert" activity
using email, a "write about a photo" activity using
web software, or a sentence combining activity using a
word processor. How about a very simple use of
Inspiration for a Venn
diagram that compares a book to the movie?
- Focus on Problems and Solutions. Use
problems as the focus of staff development activities.
Rather than avoiding or simply talking about problems,
use these problems to stimulate discussion and action.
Use a problem-based learning format in your workshop.
For example, you might design activities for the
3-computer classroom. You might come up with a
project using Powerpoint on the topic of the solar
- Require Evidence. It's easy not to "do"
when there's no accountability. Require evidence of
technology innovation in your classrooms. Encourage
technology as an element in student portfolios and
teaching materials. As you look at a product like a
poster, how was technology used and why?
- Turn Talk into Action.
Choose an idea or situation you want to
see implemented. Ask yourself: How could you make it
happen? Now, do it!
- Using Memory to Reflect
- We sometimes substitute memory for thinking. We
say things like "we do it this way" or "we tried that
already." It's easier to teach how we were taught. Why
change? These barriers can cause us to rely on past
experience rather than innovation. Why are these
things so hard to "get over"? Part of the problem is
excuses, but part is also reality. Teachers didn't
grow up "digital." Technology was introduced as
"extra" in the 1980s, and technology is still viewed
as "alien" and "difficult." Rather than using memory
as a substitute for thinking, we need to use memory to
reflect and renew. Use consistency, precedent, and
risk taking as the basis for your changes.
- Consistency. It's easier to keep going down
the same path than to change paths or directions.
Sometime you need to build a new culture. Let's take
the problem of "lab time". In your school, the
children all go to the computer lab once per week and
the teacher gets "planning time." Of course, this was
not originally scheduled as planning time, but the lab
teacher does such as nice job, why interfere? Without
a change from the "consistency" of the situation it
will be difficult to fully integrate technology into
the classroom. A major change is needed such as
tossing the scheduling, changing staff, and creating a
new integrated curriculum. The first step might be a
project-based approach to the lab that involves the
classroom teacher and the computer teacher working
together on a project such as poetry.
- Precedent. It's difficult to break from the
past. If you've been reading the same book to your
class for the past twenty or thirty years, why change?
It's not broken, why fix it? The challenge may be one
of encouraging the evolution of a project. Ask
yourself: why this book? What other book could be
used? If we like this book, could we use an online
discussion or an Inspiration character analysis to
update the related activities? Let's take the book
To Kill A Mockingbird. It's a great book, so let's
evolve the classroom activities to include an
novel guide, a technology-rich lesson
plan, an Inspiration character
analysis, and an online
- Risk taking. Building an atmosphere that
values innovation may be the key to change. If the
problem is teachers who have "laminated" lesson plans
that haven't been updated in decades, the challenge is
to provide a new activity that requires no additional
time commitment. For example, if the topic is Health
and Cancer, you might provide a standards-linked
lesson plan with good web resources such as a
Today article and a FindArticles
paper to read. It's ready to go, let's do it!
- Use Memory to
Reflect. Explore 3 problem areas
including consistency, precedent, and risk taking.
Address your own problem.
- Using Assessment to Enhance Learning
- A final problem with bridging the "knowing-doing
gap" relates to the use of assessment. Recently the
word "assessment" has been associated with testing.
Don't focus on testing. Focus on learning including
the needs of both teachers and students. The goal of
assessment should be to provide direction. It should
start with teachers doing self-assessment, then peer
assessment. By posting projects on the web, it's easy
for teachers to get additional ideas from their peers.
For example, a teacher in Ohio has a great physics
page where his projects
Creating this page gave the teacher an opportunity to
review his thinking about the project as well as a way
to share his learning.
- Teacher Evaluation. Start with your own
evaluation. There are two areas to consider when
looking at the knowing-doing gap: the knowing part and
the doing part. "Knowing" evaluation focuses on the
questions: What do I know? What do I need to know? The
"Doing" evaluation concentrates on: How do I use
technology? How could I use technology? You'll find
lots of online self-assessment tools in the area of
technology including one from Indiana
and one from California.
- Project Evaluation. Another assessment is
project evaluation. What are you really seeking in a
technology project? Low-level technology assessments
focus on the technology itself such as "how many
cards" and "do the buttons work". Look at areas such
as outcome, quality, originality, and style. Does the
project meet the outcome challenge? Are students able
to demonstrate competence through the project? Is the
project of quality? Does it address a question or
solve a problem? Is the project original or unique?
Or, does it simply copy from a book or website?
Finally, is the project presented well? Does it look
and sound good? Does it have style? Explore some
projects as a tool for reflection.
- Evaluation Tools. As you look at assessment
tools be sure to consider both the process and the
product. Also look at the content, design of the
message, and the communication itself. If you'd like
some checklists, use 4teacher's project-based
learning checklist as a starting point.
- Use Assessment to
Enhance Learning. Look at
how technology is being used throughout your program.
Are your activities reflective of your philosophy of
teaching, learning, and technology? Do you have a
global-scope that is both product and process
oriented? Is your program varied, informative, and
- Chicken & Egg Dilemmas
- The knowing-doing gap seems to contain many
"chicken and eggs" dilemmas. Which comes first,
curriculum or assessment? Which is more important:
competition or collaboration? What are the roots of
your beliefs about education and are they reflected in
- Believe or Try.
We need to believe in technology, but
we also need to try technology. Which comes first?
- Curriculum or
Assessment. What gets measured, gets
done. How do we measure technology if it's supposed to
- Competition or
Collaboration. Competition can be
healthy. Collaboration is important. Which promotes
learning with technology?
- Learn by Doing
- One of the best ways to pick a surgeon is to ask
how many times they have performed the surgery. The
more practice they get, the better they get....
- Just Do It! You can't bridge the
"knowing-doing gap" by sitting around. If a project is
not working, immediately... stop, ask what you
learned, and try a new path. Waste no time worrying or
- Try, Stop, Try Again. The bridge to success
is seldom straight. You may need to step back and step
over to make something work. Let's say your students
are writing new words in a journal. They try using the
DK CD-ROM Dictionary to find the words. Unfortunately,
the dictionary is incomplete and they get frustrated.
Rather than plowing through the activity, look for
options. Maybe it's another CD dictionary, an online
dictionary, or a print dictionary!
- Try, Experiment, Try. Spend more time in
thoughtful action: trying, experimenting, and
engaging. Spend less time on talking! For example, if
you've got a new digital camera, experiment. Take
pictures and have groups narrate sections. Then ask
yourself, what other things could students take
pictures of and narrate? Try it in another subject
- Bridging the Knowing-Doing Gap
- It's easy to get stuck in the mud. You're likely
to find lots of different ideas for getting out of the
mud. Focus on individual needs and finding the best
solution for you whether you're a beginner, mover, or
- For Beginners. Implement something you know
rather than something new. It's easiest to learn in a
context within your own classroom and with your own
students. Start with the 42explore
project that provides lots of good starting points for
thematic topics such as Weather
- For Movers. Try a new teaching strategy.
Analyze how it went. Then, talk about the next step.
For example, you might try a webquest
on healthy eating and the websites
that go with the webquest.
- For Speeders. Focus on "continuous
improvement" rather than "flitting" from technology to
technology. Plan some small, simple, progressive steps
and projects. If you have trouble with implementation,
try an established project such as ThinkQuest
that provides timelines for completion.
- The Keys to Success
- Knowing about the gap is not enough. Get excited!
Do! Two final words of advice:
- For Teachers. To get out of the mud, move
slowly and deliberately.
- For Technology Administrators. To get out
of the mud, spend more time creating learning
environments, than putting out fires.
- Big Ideas to Small
- Bridging the Gap
- Return to
Created by Annette