“A lifelong ability to learn has given human beings all kinds of evolutionary advantages over other animals. It is our killer app" (pg. 90).
Teaching is one of those rare professions that keeps your brain young, allowing you to continue your own journey as a student and a lifelong learner. We as educators speak often about creating lifelong learners, but if we aren't buying into it ourselves, then our students don't stand a chance.
How do we instill the idea that being a lifelong learner is a crucial educational mindset for our students?
For the first two decades or so of our lives, our main “job” is learning. The bulk of our time is spent in classrooms acquiring new knowledge. And then, once we graduate, we feel like the education phase of our lives is done and now it’s time to go out into the world. Have you ever thought about how odd that idea is? That only a quarter of our lives should be devoted to learning, and then we just suddenly stop learning? It’s a crazy idea – but one many have absorbed, at least subconsciously. But school is not our exclusive provider of learning. Just because you’ve finished your formal education, doesn’t mean that your education is over! And that's the best part of being an educator, that we get to be lifelong learners and it's a requirement of our job!
Teachers who adopt a lifelong learning mindset are not intimidated by technology in their classrooms or in their students’ hands. They are willing to learn about technology from theirs students and fellow teachers and adapt their teaching practices to meet the demands of their 21st century students. Moreover, digital literacy is a critical component of education today, and teachers must know how to teach and assess it in their classrooms. The bottom line: Being prepared to teach in the 21st century automatically equates to being a lifelong learner in the 21st century.
Chapter 8: "Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out"
“At the most basic level, participation in digital environments requires a sense of "learning to be", which is more about acquiring certain social practices that give meaning to experiences than it is about any kind of abstract notion of knowledge as a thing or set of facts" (pg. 101).
When technology integration in the classroom is seamless and thoughtful, students not only become more engaged, they begin to take more control over their own learning, too. Students must learn how to use technology beyond social purposes.
How can I utilize the available resources, both social and technological, for deep exploration?
I took an online health class two years ago, and that was my first exposure to participating in group discussions, solely online. It was the first time I was developing my presence online for a class. And I loved it! In 531, we did an entire book discussion online. We created 31 pages of wonderful, thoughtful and deep discussions. GoogleDocs is a simple and effective way to foster student collaboration. It is able to reach all students, especially those students that are too shy or uncomfortable sharing their thoughts in class. There are endless ways we can use technology in the classroom to help students develop a digital environment and utilizing that environment for deeper exploration of content.
The spread of smartphones and tablets in recent years has left no area of life web-inaccessible. Education is no exception. No longer limited to the classroom, library, or lab, engaged learning can happen anytime and anywhere.
Chapter 9: "The New Culture of Learning for a World of Constant Change"
“Still, some educators continue to dismiss games as frivolous or time-wasting entertainment, while others ignore the distinctions among them and consider all games to be antisocial and violent...new research shows, however, that games can in fact aid and enhance learning" (pg. 107).
Games offer students a fun-filled and relaxing learning atmosphere. After learning and practicing new vocabulary, students have the opportunity to use language in a non-stressful way. While playing games, the learners' attention is on the message, not on the language. Rather than pay attention to the correctness of linguistic forms, most participants will do all they can to win which creates more communication in my classrooms than if I were to pass out a packet and ask them to work on it with their groups.
Why use games in the classroom?
I was first exposed to Kahoot! through this class. And it's great! My students absolutely love it and so do I. My only issue is that not many of my students have access to internet on their phone and/or do not own a phone and it is very difficult to get the ChromeBooks at my school site- they're always booked! This goes back to the issues of technology not being near as accessible in education as it should be at this day and age. Besides Kahoot, I've tried other various games and the kids just love it and are much more engaged than a normal day. They are constantly asking me when they can play another game. I think the trick to games being effective in the classroom is that it's not an everyday thing.
Games work if you know your audience. Games were not an effective way to reach my students at Carlsbad. They were more concerned about doing the packet review prior to a test than playing a game, such as Jeopardy. While my current kids live for games! They also ask when we can play more. There is an age difference between my first semester kids and my current ones which I know plays a factor and it also just depends on the kids I have. Knowing your audience is key for implementing games or not and which type of games.