I read a terrific article written by Katrina Scwhartz over at Mind Shift. She describes four skills students need to learn and review within the first week of school of the school year.
1. Power Searching
According to Schwartz, "Kids think they know how to use the Internet to find the information they need...but often students have no idea why Google works...or how to phrase questions to get the answer they seek." Google doesn't speak English. It speaks algorithms. When students search Google, they type just a few works or even the exact question they have been asked. However, the are only finding a very small percentage of what is available and they are only finding what is published on US websites. Schwartz points out that If you really want to know what happened during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, then certainly you need to include articles that were written about the event in Iran. Learning how to correctly conduct a search puts the whole story at our students fingertips.
2. Meaningful Contributions
The second skill to learn is how to make meaningful contributions to the world, no matter a student's age.. It used to be that everything we wrote was for our teacher to read and critique and grade. A global audience is much more motivating than just a teacher in a classroom especially to kids. An example of such a site shared in the article is MathTrain, a public math site created by a middle school teacher where students create and post articles and videos for kids all across the world to access and use!
3. Let Kids Learn and Share Their Passions
Students in our schools have learned to be dependent. They rely on us to tell them what they should learn and exactly what they have to do to prove they have learned it by supplying them with a rubric. Wouldn't students will learn more by choosing thier own topics, defining heir own projects and deciding for themselves what constitutes 'good enough'?
4. Teach Students What it Mean to Learn
The role of the educator is shifting away from the 'person who imparts knowledge to the facilitator of knowledge'. One of the greatest tools students can have in their pocket is learning 'how to learn' by watching you. Share how and what you learn with kids. Share what your read, the questions you ask and how you find the answers. Share who you follow on social media and how to use it for learning. We can show children how to follow the experts in their field and how to learn from them directly. Until recently schools have been all about teaching two basic things: content that someone else chose as essential to learn and basic skills such as reading, writing and math. Schwartz contends, and I agree, that today we need to add a third skill and that is how to create a personal learning network and how it can enhance our experiences both in and out of school.
What will you teach students this year?
Here is the link to the original article by Katrina Schwartz.
Scwartz, Katrina. Mind/Shift. How We Will Learn. Four Skills to Teach Students in the First Five Days of School. August 21, 2014.