Innovation Helps Teachers Meet Student Learning Needs

By Christine DiPaulo

Innovations and aha moments that lead to change happen over time, with new rules causing new expectations that compound the move forward. An instant win is a myth. Instead it takes patience and fortitude to move toward the goals a district has set forth. Change is never easy but it is the only thing that is constant. In education we need to be thinking and doing to embrace the change. It can not be the old way.

I heard a recent story of a four year-old boy traveling on vacation with his family. He was used to watching movies and playing games through cloud services. The vacation home only had a DVD player so his parents grabbed some DVD movies to take with them. The father placed the DVDs in the back seat with his son for the ride. The curious boy opened the DVD box, tossed the DVD to the side and using his finger he tried to click in the box to make the movie play. He kept asking “Where is the play button?” as he touched different places within the case.

Our students have grown up with technology and instant access to information. How will we adjust to make their learning experience at school meaningful and productive?

He is the new generation of students we will be teaching. How can we make education ready to meet the demands of this new generation?

In his TED talk, Jack Dorsey talks about how this post-millennial generation “will think the Jetsons are in the past”. How will we be ready for them? As educators, we need to be prepared for experiences we have not had ourselves and allow our students to teach us. Since facts are at our fingertips, teachers shouldn’t feel the need to know everything any more. We do need to allow for change and create agile learning experiences that our students expect.

The best ways we can help our students feel that they belong is to meet them where they are. In the classroom, this means accepting technology as part of the learning and leveraging the expertise of our students.

Using cell phones for research, capturing images to tell stories and creating visual content is one powerful way we can do this. Another way for teachers who use technology to become more comfortable with how tablets can be used in the classroom, is to challenge learners using App Dice, to create a story about current school district activities. In groups, participants roll the dice to create an experience of using multiple tools for learning and creation.

Other options are for teachers to explore professional development resources like Sevenzo, EdCamps, or even free twitter chats.

Let’s prepare our school community to tell authentic stories and use technology as a tool for learning.

Christine is at the Director of Professional Learning at Square Peg consulting in Philadelphia. She is also an Apple Distinguished Educator. Follow her on Twitter @bethesquarepeg

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