|image by CollegeDegrees360|
I recently did a post about buzzwords, and I think one of the worst of these is the phrase "the twenty first century learner." This has become a catch-all phrase to describe students with a short attention span, a technology addiction, and a complete inability to learn in "traditional" manners.
But... there may be some truth to the buzzword, the cliche, what have you. And it may not be a bad thing.
It's hard for adults in general and teachers in particular to accept the dramatic changes we're undergoing, but I think we don't have much of a choice. Here are some very specific things that I think we, as teachers, need to consider in moving forward with the twenty first century students in our classrooms.
1. The value of the topics taking up our time
More and more, we are doing project driven learning: Google time, individual projects, flex time. There is less and less emphasis on whole class instruction, and classroom time is now, more than ever, at a premium. With that in mind, I'm about to say something controversial (but not original): why are we teaching them cursive handwriting at the expense of, say, keyboarding skills? I think when someone suggests getting rid of handwriting, we have an ingrained response (or at least, I do) to respond: "We need it! It teaches valuable skills! We can't just let that ability vanish."
But... can't we? Why not? I'm trying to think of what exactly cursive writing does for a kid, and I can't come up with anything that couldn't be taught in a more engaging and cross curricular way. Is it such a bad thing if, in the end, cursive writing dies out? Was there once a similar outcry against not teaching Latin?
2. Technology really is ubiquitous
We are past the days of telling kids to put their phones away. They have a wealth of information at their fingertips. Let them use it! Sure, kids will text in class. They pass notes in class, too. It doesn't matter if it's high or low tech; kids will find ways to break the rules. That shouldn't stop us from using powerful educational devices anymore than note passing should stop us from using pencils and paper.
3. We need to be open to using technology in unexpected ways
Today I was sitting at a table with a student explaining how to divide by ten mentally when a number ends in zero, and how that skill can be used to mentally find percentages. I was jotting notes on a whiteboard as we talked, and at the end of our time, she said to me, "I understand it now, but I'll probably forget it when I get home. Will you take a picture of that whiteboard and email it to me?"
Such a simple idea, but it had never occurred to me to say to a kid, "Take a picture of that example." Obviously I did as she asked, and mentioned it to the rest of the class as an option, too.
4. Learning will never look like it did when we were kids
We can stress rote memorization of math facts all we want, but kids just don't learn that way anymore. They've been raised in a world where information is immediately accessible, where they carry computers so powerful NASA would have been using them thirty years ago in their back pockets, where they are never more than five seconds from a calculator, a phone, or a text message. You can't expect learning to look like it did when those things didn't exist.
5. Organization is going to look different, too
Many teachers still use paper agendas... for their students. Not many of them use them for ourselves. It's something else to carry, and I have a device in my back pocket that does all of that for me. When I say I use Edmodo instead of agendas, a lot of teachers respond that they don't want all of the responsibility on THEM -- students should organize themselves.
I say, what's the difference between me writing it on a board and expecting students to copy it down, or me writing it on a website and expecting students to check it? Either way, the responsibility for maintaining awareness of dates and assignments falls on students. As their teacher, I give them a helping hand. In my case, it looks like a website. Expecting kids to check paper agendas doesn't fit in with the rest of their lives, where half of them probably don't even have a paper calendar at home.
Question of the Day:
What technology can we use to reach 21st century learners?
Obviously, for me the key is interaction. Games. Edmodo's interactive calendar. Google docs and cloud storage. If kids can use it, I think they will.Tweet
If you like this, you might like...
|What Video Games can Teach Educators|