It has to mean something if it has to matter.
- ME (and a lot of other people)
Disengaged. Bored. Lazy. I have heard ALL of those used to describe today's students. If you listen carefully, what your really hear is an excuse to NOT change - a deflection of ownership of the real problem: most classrooms and mainstream instructional practices haven't changed too terribly much in about a hundred years.
"He's disengaged" - Student "playing" on their cell phone? Reading a book instead of looking at the teacher during a lecture? Hmmmm....are you sure the student is disengaged? Many of today's learners (not all) are actually paying more attention than you think. Turn those perceived problems to assets. The student on the cell phone might actually be looking up information you are talking about or taking notes. And that student that reads - that may be how he blocks out stimuli - my oldest who is on the Autism spectrum is one of those.
"I'm bored" - Too often, the translation for this becomes "the work is too hard for the student" when that really is often NOT the case. This reaction is triggered by a topic that is too easy or not interesting to the student or - GASP - they already know the information! It happens, people. Most often they are just uninspired - let them be creative! Somewhere around third grade, kids are turned into compliant learners...well, most are. They learn that thinking differently or being creative is a punishable offense in some classrooms. How do you encourage creativity?
"She is so lazy" - nope nope nope...more likely they are uninspired. see above for remedies for that. However, sometimes they are just tired. Kids today have a lot going on - sometimes that is pressure placed on them by family. Sports, dance, familial obligations, poverty....they take a toll. Are we as educators aware of that? Too often the child deemed lazy has a lot going on that we fail to see. Take the time to get to know them. A simple conversation or two can be life changing.
How often do we create authentic learning experiences for our students? When was the last time you gave them a chance to identify a problem that matters to them and do something about it? These days, versions of 20% Time and Genius Hour are becoming prevalent in our schools. In some schools, there is still the mind set that this learning isn't going to raise test scores - a point which is a) grossly inaccurate and b) irrelevant. Students are NOT test scores. When teachers are told they can't let students learn through Genius Hour or 20% Time activities because this "isn't in the curriculum" I get a little grumpy.
I like to share the story of Richard Turere who identified a problem and created a solution that made a difference for his family and his community.
I can guarantee that his actual project wasn't in the curriculum, but the skills he learned while perfecting his invention - and giving this speech - certainly were. I'm sure that given the opportunity to identify a problem and work to solve it, many of those "disengaged, bored, and lazy" students would thrive.
As I was catching up on The Twitters while waiting on my youngest to finish softball practice, I saw this post:
When we got home, I sharedthis Google Doc with her and her brother - both teenagers. They were on board before I could even finish talking about it! We took turns manning the stove top dinner prep and making our personalized game cards. Sounds like nothing special, but it was.
You see, as they build their cards, they analyzed the terms that Dave Burgess included in the word bank. I heard them asking what some of the terms had to do with the election...and then they looked them up! I was so proud of them for instinctively investigating and arming themselves with more information.
With dinner finished and homework done, we popped some popcorn, got in our PJs and piled on my bed to watch the debate. The youngest, also pen hoarder, passed out highlighters. Finally - it was showtime!
As we watched, I was impressed with how they really listened. They were engaged and learning - not just playing a game.
This morning, I captured this image of our cards from last night. While her brother and I made notes in the margins and wrote additional words - some that one candidate seems to have made up entirely - my daughter turned hers into an art project.
This was another insight into how they learn and process information.
On the way to school, I asked them who they felt "won" the debate. Each gave a different answer. I will also add that I didn't expect the answers they gave, but their justifications helped us understand each other, even if we didn't agree.
I so want this type of learning experience to become the norm for all students - not just the ones I am raising. Following all of the posts on Twitter in response to one tweet by Dave Burgess, I predict that with the next debate, there will be more teachers making this a homework assignment.