Friday, August 17, 2007

Making a difference

Are you making a difference in the lives of your students? Are you connecting with them? Are you centering your learning around your passions?
We learn best ourselves when we are passionate about the topic. We only learn because we want to learn, not because we are required to earn a grade.
What makes us think k12 students are any different? In order to motivate k12 students to learn in our classes, we need to:
*form a positive relationship with them
*provide activities and materials that are interesting and relevant to their lives
*give students as much choice as possible
*provide optimally challenging activities and instruction
*provide meaningful rationales for objectives
*listen
I am reminded of a concept about which Evan Scherr just spoke. He is reading the latest James Paul Gee book. Gee refers to learning as both difficult and rewarding. Why would anyone play a game that takes hours to complete, is almost impossible to master, and holds no obvious rewards. Yet lots of teens and tweens do just that. These kids even pay their allowances for these games. Why?
They are passionate about the topic. Or in the words of a infamous fifth grader (now in 7th!), "Duh".
There is a valuable lesson to be learned here. As we all prepare for our lessons and units this fall, are we setting up the precursors for passionate, difficult, & rewarding learning in our classroom?
I know that as a computer teacher this year (it seems to change every year!) I will be able to use many digital tools. It is not about the tools. It is about the pedagogy, the contextual knowledge, about passionate learning.
I step back as I make my plans (woefully behind I fear) to ask myself, is learning in my classroom difficult enough? Is learning in my classroom rewarding enough? If it is not, I may never be able to engage kids to learn those skills and strategies they will need in their futures.
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References:
Gee, J.P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan.

2 comments:

Tracy Rosen said...

I like this:

I step back as I make my plans (woefully behind I fear) to ask myself, is learning in my classroom difficult enough? Is learning in my classroom rewarding enough? If it is not, I may never be able to engage kids to learn those skills and strategies they will need in their futures.

These questions are oh so important to ask. Without passion, why bother?

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Excellent comments, I have the same question about the difficulty of learning. I have found that if there is not a little frustration caused because of the challenge then the content is too easy. Of course I teach art and psycholoty. I have tried to maintain a stress free atmosphere with constant positive reinforcement and all attainable goals and have had behavior problems every time. Ragon Steele