Tuesday, January 20, 2009

10 Ways to Boost Learning

In my last blog I wrote about the seven skills that students desperately need by the time they graduate from high school. I also wrote about employers who need employees who can think and be able to see a problem and come up with a way to fix that problem. We as educators need to teach 21st century skills to students finding ways to assess those skills through performance measures. We need to find ways to teach today’s multi-tasking students who need visual stimulation and constant contact with their friends. But knowing that we need to be reaching out to our students in a more creative, productive way using technology is not enough. How do teachers and schools do this?

I’ll start by listing those seven survival skills again:
  1. Problem-solving and critical thinking
  2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
  3. Agility and adaptability
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurship
  5. Effective written and oral communication
  6. Accessing and analyzing information
  7. Curiosity and imagination
As I thought about those survival skills I began to think about what part of those skills some students may already possess and how we could build from what students already know. Let’s see, problem-solving – OK, if you can’t set up your new cell phone and are tired of reading the manual just give it to one of your students. They will set up your cell phone in 10 minutes flat. How’d they do that? They are not afraid of technology, they are not afraid of trying different things and they will sit and work on something until they figure it out. Problem-solving, simple right? Yea, right. It was easy for them. So students do possess some problem-solving skills. How can we build on that tenacity to help students refine and expand their problem-solving skills?

Collaborating across networks – do students collaborate? You bet, everyday. They work together building Facebook and My Space sites, they form bonds of friendship from texting their many friends everyday and join forces as a team for many of their video games. I continue to read about companies that are using video games for educational purposes. Can we as educators build on the collaborative skills our students already possess? Sure we can.

I don’t need to go through the rest of the list because by now you’re thinking about the students you work with everyday and seeing the skills they already possess. This led me to an article that outlined 10 ways to boost learning with technology. No one would disagree that we have a crisis in education today. In spite of the resources and money used for education students continue to fall behind students in other countries.

The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) came up with an action plan with ten recommendations for national, state and local education leaders:
  1. Ensure that technology tools and resources are used continuously and seamlessly for instruction, collaboration, and assessment.
  2. Expose all students (pre-K through 12th grade) to STEM fields and careers - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
  3. Make ongoing, sustainable professional development available to all teachers.
  4. Use virtual learning opportunities for teachers to further their professional development, such as through online communities and education portals.
  5. Incorporate innovative, consistent, and timely assessments into daily instruction.
  6. Strengthen the home-school connection by using technology to communicate with parents on student progress.
  7. Provide the necessary resources so that every community has the infrastructure to support learning with technology, including assessments and virtual learning.
  8. Obtain societal support for education that uses technology from all stakeholders – students, parents, teachers, state and district administrators, business leaders, legislators, and local community members.
  9. Provide federal leadership to support states and districts regarding technology’s role in school reform by passing the ATTAIN Act, the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation Act.
  10. Increase available funding for e-Rate so that schools can acquire telecommunication services, internet access, internal connections, and maintenance of those connections.
This is a comprehensive list that covers what all school systems, communities and districts should be doing. As I think about what our school system is doing in technology I know we are ahead of other school systems in the state with our use of technology. How does your school compare to other schools in the district where you live? Across your state? Can we do more with the technology resources we currently have? I think so and it’s up to all of us to learn new technology skills and strive to teach the content while reaching out to our students in a more creative, productive way using technology and helping all students gain 21st century skills.

1 comment:

Richerdsdon said...
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