Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century
I just graduated college in December 2007 and I started teaching right away. I would consider myself just outside of or just inside this generation of the technology savvy student. I learned how to type in 1st grade on green and black screen big computers in a private school. By 8th grade in a public school, I was learning how to create Power Point presentations and learning how to use Microsoft Word and Excel.
In my classroom today, I use Power Point for my notes, I've had students blog in English, and I've shown relevant videos from Youtube or Teachertube. I've also hooked up my MP3 player to my computer to play songs for my Spanish class. I've used Windows Media Player for listening activities in Spanish, too. These are ways I've started to use technology in the classroom.
My goals would be create a website for my classes that students could access at home. The website would include homework assignments and links to relevant materials.
Throughout my years of education, I did notice a shift in learning- from individually taking notes to a consistent flow of group projects. Even in my college classes they emphasized a new shift in collaborative learning.
I could envision a future where every student has his or her own computer. (I know some schools already have that). With this push toward technology use, that would be necessary. I believe that every child has a natural curiosity to learn. The challenge is bringing out that curiosity in the classroom. Some of my fears/concerns for students today include: 1) They don't take responsibility for their own learning 2) They won't engage on personal levels if they're encouraged to constantly interact via a computer/I-pod/cell phone 3) They know they can access knowledge quickly on Google, but still lack the necessary skills to intelligently navigate the web 4) They believe what they read online without questioning the website or the source.
Furthermore, this new push for trimesters is detrimental to strong math, science, and language skills needed to compete in a global economy. They say the U.S. is behind in math and science, and yet I know that where I teach students are encouraged to explore other areas of interests (sports classes, arts, etc.). If Michigan wants its students to be fluent in languages beyond English, then they need to fund and implement plans for foreign language classes at the elementary level and carry them out throughout high school. It's common knowledge now that studies have shown kids acquire languages more easily at a younger age.
We're at a crossroads in our current educational system. It will be a great challenge for educators to find that balance between a foundation of knowledge and preparing future generations for the "global economy."