Recently I was invited to be a guest speaker in an education pathway class full of high school students who are interested in becoming teachers. I looked forward to getting in front of students for the first time in six months to speak about my job and what role technology should play in the classroom.
I decided to do an experiment. I started off with a Google presentation slide packed full of great information. Then I changed the slide and asked what they remember. As expected, I got a lot of blank stares. In fact, I knew I lost them right from the beginning. When I asked how much of their day is spent sitting and listening, the response varied from three to five periods each day.
The next part of lesson plan was to have them read a short article and then respond to it in a Google Form on a Chromebook. Soon, every student was working through the quick 15 minute assignment. Some answers were more thoughtful than others, but everyone did it. I projected their responses and we had a short discussion. They were spirited and filled with opinions. One of the questions asked students to list five words that describe school. I took those responses and put them into a Word Cloud. I wasn’t expecting these results, but I also wasn’t surprised by them.
There were only 30 students in the class, but I bet if we widened the sample size, this is a theme that would be found across many school.
Many don’t have any idea what they are working towards – other than not being in high school any longer.
Student engagement has never been more important. The traditional, teacher-centered model does not work for all students. We need to be more innovative in how we draw students into our content. In how we make them want to learn. Which is most likely very different from the way we learned. We need to define the purpose of what we do with students and students need to put their learning in the greater context of their own life goals.