It just seems like within the world of Educational Technology, we are turning this monumental corner and every day is simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating.
After today’s faculty meeting, I had a conversation with my friend, Pam, a Fifth Grade teacher, about a major shift in her educational mindset that occurred in her classroom during a poetry project that she was working on with her students. It is a project that she has done many times in her career, but this year, it took an unexpected turn.
This year, students began to discretely use the Internet to find their poems rather than the books offered in the classroom. Pam, at first, balked at the idea. How dare these 5th graders highjack her lesson plan? In the midst of this, she happened to be privy to a conversation by some high schoolers in our district about the shift occurring on their campus. According to these successful high school teens, it seems that being smart is no longer defined by the ability to retain and regurgitate information. The new “smart” involves being able to efficiently find and interpret information.
As Pam tells it, she literally felt her thinking shift at that point in time. She let go of her previous perceptions about the project and, with some guidance and direction, allowed her students to find poems on the Internet with some remarkable results. The poems her students chose were, for the most part, of a higher level than those she had offered them previously. Fifth Graders were using Emily Dickinson poems to discuss Assonance. Who would have thought that possible? The students themselves had kicked this project up a notch.
Pam, being the stellar teacher that she is, was already thinking of the changes she would make if she were to do this project next year. But, the bottom line is what we are all discovering in this brave new world. If we let go just a little bit of our previous notions of what learning looks like, we all stand to gain.