Monday, January 4, 2010

Vacation's over & it's time to teach

The tyranny of the holiday urgent is now gone and we're back in education mode. So why not start the year out with an educational resolution? Here's one:

Concentrate on creating Information Literate students.

Why? Administrators like this.
Kids need this.
Colleges are asking for this.
It might save your job.
It is measurable and visible.

Research shows that this generation is tech savvy, but information illiterate--and so are many educators. Information literacy is not a skill that begins the secondary education world, but needs to begin when kids begin online. Challenge: embed an information literacy lesson somewhere in every lesson. Encourage your students to share this with their parents or teacher.

Even if your lesson is in print form, give the students the electronic equivalent. If you are still teaching "indexes" you may need to replace that paradigm with "keyword searching." The "index" as we know it has a terminal illness. It's dying a slow torturous death of obsolete-ism. Unfortunately, we know that it showed us information can be organized. The Millennials live in a world of random access, and organization is a novel idea they may not understand. Use that Smartboard and show them keyword searching right next to the index, if you can't let go of the old ....

When teaching a research unit, or resources, make sure you mention the pitfalls of poor sites. They'll probably go home and use Wikipedia (so says the site which reports 55% of teens use it), but at least we can caution against its bias. Check out the Wikipedia entries on the American Revolution. Do you think that all those English entries thought George Washington was heroic?

Our information world is evolving so fast there are now new circles called "smart mobs". This is the power that instantly is unleashed using social networking connections. Check out this book which portrays the information circle as a force yet to be discovered by many, if you think social networks are a passing fad: . If you are just one step ahead of the kids -- that's o.k. You have perspective. They only have skill.

So let's speak so others will notice:tell them something new, fresh and bold. Shock them with a statistic, grab their attention, and teach them. Afterall, 86% of teens believe writing is extrememly important, but 50% have admitted that they have used improper IM language in school. Go figure....

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