Thursday, April 16, 2009

Don’t Hide Behind Excuses!

In R.I.P. Digital Native/Immigrant Tags from TJ on a Journey, TJ states, “
“In the past, I have recommended to teachers that WE ALL are responsible for teaching kids good information and Internet skills. A response I have heard several times, ‘The kids know more that we do anyway.’ No, they don't. They are not afraid of technology and they USE technology, but oddly, we prohibit their familiar tools (like cell phones and social networks) when they get inside the school building.”

I feel, as teachers, it is important for us not to just show students the tools and how to use them, but to be responsible too. When we teach students to drive, we don’t just teach them the basics in order to get them to move a car forward and backwards. We teach them the laws and how to make decisions based on their knowledge. When I took a driver’s education course, we learned how to figure out gas mileage and how to read a map too. When students learn how to drive, do they know great places to go? Do they know about the public library and how to get there? Do they know where some museums are and how to find out about them (directions, hours, cost of admission, exhibit information)? Do they know where the state and national parks are that may be near them? There is so much more we can add to their basic knowledge once they learn how to use a tool.

TJ is right that many students are not afraid of trying new technology and using it the best that they know how. But we can show them how to use it better and more effectively if we take the time to learn it ourselves and share this information with them. We have the knowledge and background to figure this out easier than our students do because we have learned how to learn. We need to teach our students how to learn too.

Many of my students could only read cereal boxes and ads in the paper but I wanted to broaden their knowledge base. I got them to read newspaper articles and form opinions. Some even read super hero comic books and thought that was as good as reading a book. Then I had them read magazine articles that they might be interested in or about a hobby they had. Later we moved to comic book classics and they were amazed that there were other forms of literature out there besides thick and overwhelming books. We eventually moved to young adult novels and critical thinking with their reading. They learned to discuss these books and develop their critical thinking skills even further. I didn’t have the attitude that “the kids knew more than I did anyway so why bother.” I enjoyed watching them grow.

Many students will even try to tell me that they know how to do stuff but it is up to me to tell them they might now how, but I might be able to show them a better or easier way. Students love to find an easier way to do something. Then I also explain that I might learn a few things from them too but this exchange of ideas is as important as learning something.

TJ also states “We are educators...We must not hide behind cliches as excuses. We have studied pedagogy and we must use it to best instruct our students.”

I applaud TJ’s attitude and wholeheartedly agree! It is with this attitude that we will have a successful classroom and push successful students out into the real world!

Original image: 'no excuses' by: Colin


diane said...


I loved your scaffolded approach to information fluency. Students may not be aware of the many forms in which material can be accessed, and teachers need to model, explore, expand and challenge.

The other side of the coin is that educators can't "hide behind excuses" either. Learn on your own, learn from colleagues, learn from students...acquire the knowledge you need to be an effective 21st century teacher. Anything less is a disservice to your students and yourself.

Kary said...

Students are not afraid of technology but I agree that need to learn responsibility. They need to learn when it is the time to use it and how to use it. I think there is a place for texting and chatting online, as well as Twitter and if we could use it and teach them about it and how to use in it in a work or eduactional environment. Telling them no, just makes the problem worse. I have had my students engaged in note taking becuase I allowed them to use their phones to do so. they were not texting and doing exactly as I asked. They were attentive to what we were learning. It was great.

Lightly Seasoned said...

I've started using wikis with my students, and in their rubric I lay out what a professional online presence looks like. It isn't the wiki that's the issue; it's learning how to present themselves as adults vs. kids playing on Facebook.

I also use it as an opportunity with my seniors to talk about cleaning up their Facebook pages before the colleges start poking around.

loonyhiker said...

diane:You are so right! I guess that is why I love my PLN on twitter and plurk! I can't sit around and wait for the learning to come to me, I've got to go out and find it!

loonyhiker said...

Kary: Sometimes we need to allow students to do things in order to teach them how to do it appropriately. If we constantly say no, how will they learn? Thanks for your comments!

loonyhiker said...

Lightly Seasoned: What a great idea! I like this and I bet your students do too. Thanks for your ideas.