Have you ever seen a line at a smoothie bar? It's incredible. People will wait forever for a cup of blended juices, fruits, protein powders, and vegetables. Why do they wait? Because the person behind the counter is making it just for them. It is exactly what they want and need. Just like we want our smoothies “personalized," we want our learning to be personalized too. Twenty-first century learning tools afford educators the ability to do just that – personalize learning. Greater Atlanta Christian School is in their first year of having blended learning classrooms.
What's a parent to do if their child's latest "excuse" for using his/her cell phone is "but I need it for homework?" With all of the articles, blogs (even this one), and websites dedicated to the use of mobile and digital technology, it is easy for a parent to throw their hands up and either have no technology boundaries or very tight ones. What is a reasonable amount of time to have access to technology at home? At school? Even schools vary in their philosophy and guidelines for student use. So what makes sense?
If you live in Atlanta, a popular topic of discussion is the traffic. We all experience that special time each day - when you and a few million of your closest friends attempt to go to the same place at the same time. (Repeat in the evening.)
Over the years, I have interviewed hundreds of students in middle school and high school. I often ask them, "Do you like to read?" Now days, the savvy student will always answer "yes" quickly whether or not it's true. But occasionally I will come across one brave soul who, in front of God and his parents will say..."no." Ahhh, the challenge begins!
What does good work really look like?
- It has mistakes. "Failure is just a step," says Joel Manby, President & CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment. If students are told they can't ever make mistakes on their own work, where will they end up making them? When will they learn to deal with them? Yes, we need perfection. I want the person building the bridges I drive on to build it perfectly. But a math paper doesn't have to be perfect. Your child's teacher NEEDS to know the mistakes your child makes. That is the truest form of communication in learning.
- It is their work. Resist the urge, parents! Put down the pencil, scissors, or computer. If you over help your student, you are telling them by your actions they aren't smart enough to do the work. Realize that your kids have to make mistakes in order to learn.
- It asks students to do more than regurgitate, skim the text, or Google the answer. While there is a place for fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice, those types of questions reach only the lowest levels of learning. Period. They are appropriate first steps, but if students are not asked to go beyond those tasks, they are not learning anything that will stick with them.
Trial and error is essential to cognitive growth. If our students were computers, we would expect them to spit out exactly what we put into their minds. But if all they do is guess...that is all they will do.
- It is not just a pretty picture.
- It is not just about right answers. As stated above, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and matching are okay for early learning tasks. But real work comes when students take what they have learned, and use it, create with it, apply it to other situations, and eventually pass it on to someone else.
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