But why did this teacher teach the way she did? She had painstakingly created lesson plans in about her 4th year of teaching. There was a piece of paper for everyday and a test for every week. All of these correlated to a specific textbook. When her textbook changed, the thought of having done all that work for nothing frightened her. So instead of adapting in a curriculum that requires almost daily adaptations, she retreated to her room and kept her slowly yellowing lesson plans and kept her kids in the dark about current events...
So what is the point of that story? This teacher could have easily adapted with the times. And with the advent of the personal computer and Internet, especially in the classroom, it would not have been hard for her to simply add to or take away from her lesson plans.
Last night on #edchat the topic was The Internet and Prior Knowledge, mainly, what do kids need to know and what can they just look up? It all boils down to what we are truly teaching in our classrooms.
Here is some of what was said:
- The internet has made my teaching more interactive and more "in the moment." There are many things that I feel my students do not need to memorize, but need to know how and where to find the information. However, there are still core bits of information that I feel are essential for my students to memorize (addition and times tables, the names of the provinces (Canada) and their capitals, spelling rules, etc). -A Teacher
- Instead of me spouting off facts, figures, data, whatever - the kids go out and gather it, analyze it, synthesize it and summarize it. I am simply the guide who creates the initial path and gets them on it. Hopefully, somewhere along the way a spark is ignited that makes them lifelong learners. -A Teacher
- Yes, the internet has changed how teaching happens. Students need to learn basic knowledge, then from there be able to find out the rest of their answers using critical thinking and sometimes the internet. They need to know how to think, analyze, create, and learn. -A Teacher
- No longer are we just teaching content. The Internet has made content ubiquitous, and it is now our job as educators to teach students how to filter and evaluate content. -A Teacher
Here are some of my thoughts...
Are there things kids have to memorize? I am just not so sure. Yes, there are some things that we as adults (and kids) should know so we don't look, well, stupid. (State Capitols, Constitution Amendments, how to calculate sales tax or a discount or price per unit.) But are these and, really anything, that we have to sit our kids down and have them memorize? I can remember getting drilled by my wonderful mother in my multiplication tables. Every night we would go over and over and over them. And then on Fridays in my class we would take timed tests and our progress was charted for the whole class to see. Oh Johnny did his 5's in 45secs. Steven, you need to work harder. It took you 80 seconds. Please, what did that teach the kids in my class?That the facts were meaningful and important or that faster is better?
The point is there really isn't anything anyone needs to memorize. Yes, we need to learn our State Capitols, and multiplication tables and Constitutional Amendments but memorize them?Perhaps memorize is the wrong word...perhaps we should ask kids to learn in context. Make meaning out of what we are learning and teaching.
Face it. The Internet has changed the way we educate and the way we teach. You know and I know it. Teachers like the one down the hall from me, can not survive much longer, using the same lesson plans year after year. Kids have access to so much information. Teachers have so access to so much information. And while we have access to so much information we have to still remember to make it meaningful and provide context.
If you are "memorizing multiplication tables or state capitols just because "they need to know," you are wasting their time. They don't need to "just know." What they do need is context and connections and relationships to what they are learning. With the entire Internet available in the pockets of our kids "just knowing" something isn't necessary.
Oh, I don't know what the 16th Amendment is, let me Google it. Instead, provide meaning. Why was the 16th Amendment important? What events lead up to its adoption? How did it change history? Those are more important.
So memorization is out. Creating meaning, providing context and connections, thats what's in. All the cool educators are doing it. Are you?