Not all access is created equal.
Technology can be a useful tool in the classroom and is perfect for doing fun projects with your students, but what happens when your students don’t have access to the same resources at home that they do at school? Many educators, including myself, are devoting their time to learning new and innovative ways to incorporate digital citizenship, iPads, and mobile phones into the classroom. While this of course is a smart idea as it helps make our lessons more engaging and interactive, it is important to also remember our students’ diverse backgrounds.
I was doing some reading and this quote really stuck out for me today. We are so awash with information these days (they don’t call it the Information Age for nothing) that it can be hard to sift through the chatter, even when you’re used to the constant buzz. For children, still learning so much about the world, it can be an overwhelming task.
The role of the teacher has changed quite a bit since the old wooden schoolhouse days of before. No longer are we drilling facts into students or treating education like an assembly time. That is no longer relevant to what will help them navigate the world.
What we can do is teach students how to evaluate the information they encounter and form their own opinions on it. Students need to know how to sort out the true from the false, realize who has an agenda and what that agenda is, and understand the context of the information they encounter. Show students how to evaluate what they read and hear and they won’t be so likely to fall victim to false words and ideologies.
Cooperative learning has proven benefits that transcend gender, ethnicity, and age. Whether you’re in a university tutorial or grade 2 classroom, students benefit from working together, as they can improve their grades, critical thinking skills, and even forge some friendships. The real trick with cooperative learning though is making sure students are actually working together on the task, rather than splitting the project or activity up into parts and then completing it alone.
I have 4 tried and true cooperative learning activities that you can try in your classroom today. I’ve used these activities in with multiple grade levels and student abilities, from the primary level up to higher education. You can adjust the activity length and complexity depending on your students’ age and ability level. They also work for most school subjects, although as you’ll see some activities are better suited for certain subjects for others. Continue reading