If you can’t beat em……

I can’t compete with TV and video game systems, so I don’t!  The old saying, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, seems highly applicable in this day and age of teaching.

Students receive most of their information from digital sources.  They are colorful, inviting, and do a much better job of informing that any one single person can probably do.  What I can only explain to my students with a few pictures and my limited knowledge, the internet can paint a picture, sing a song and do a dance.  So why try to compete with this?

Teachers should use media sources to inspire students to become inquirers.  Too long has the adult in the classroom been the sole information provider.  Instead, the teacher should be the crafter of a trail of learning that focuses on leading the learner down an orchestrated path of ever greater rigor whilst constantly being engaged.

Once teachers get past being threatened by mass media as a classroom tool, they can begin to see how much it has to offer.  I know of a teacher who still says,” Well in your class they get to watch movies, but in my class they actually have to read.  That’s why students aren’t doing as well in my class.”  This is a teacher who has not yet realized how to capitalize on the digital world.

An example might best illustrate my point:

Do NOT teach students first!  If you truly want their interest, show them a video clip of the subject matter for the day first.  A science concept, a book trailer, colonization of Central America by Spain, something just long enough to make the students have questions.  Don’t answer any questions.  When they are done watching, tell them the most amazing part is yet to come.  Hand them a one to two page article over the same topic, but with more information.  Inform students they will need to know the details of what they are reading about for an activity they are doing afterward.  You can offer them highlighters, post-its, or put the article in a Google Doc and have them take notes online.  When finished reading, mix students into groups so they can share the information they gathered from their reading.  This ensures there are no holes in their learning due to their reading ability.  If you feel compelled to clear up misconceptions, do this after groups have shared with one another.  Now they use any number of digital resources to synthesize their learning.  Here are a few of my favorite that have to do with video since that is the focus of this post:

  • annotate.net lets teachers explain and see students explain by drawing on their computers with voice over actions
  • animoto will string photos and video clips together into something that looks like art
  • screen-cast-o-matic will record a student’s voice over whatever is on the computer screen, have students do some research and present in this unique way
  • goanimate.com  students create a talking cartoon to show what they learned
  • video camera from any device- students create paper cut outs of main ideas and slide them under the video camera as they explain each part

Offer other links in case students would like to find more information for their project.  You would be surprised how many will be moved to inquire further.

Follow my blog to learn about other helpful classroom tools and ideas on how to implement them.


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