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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Nexters, Millennials, & Digital Natives "Oh My!"

      Do you find that your students are bored or fall asleep when you show a traditional slide presentation that you spent hours working on? The generations sitting in your classrooms now need more than a traditional slide presentation to keep them engaged. They need it to be interactive and to have an active roll in the process of the learning and/or presentation. After all they are wired into technology or some form of entertainment 24/7, so we've got to get and keep their short attention spans.


      To do that when starting off on a new unit try a free gamifcation. To learn more about gamifaction please see this article by Edutopia "Gamifaction in Education".  I like to use the free web 2.0 tool Kahoot. I like it because it doesn't require special software, students can access the game questions, that in my class we call "Unit Pre-Challenges". They can access the game from any device that has internet access via the Kahoot.it.  I use this when starting a new unit and I offer the "top 10" bonus points for the unit based on how well they do.  I can also download the data I get from it to see where the students strengths and/or weaknesses are for the unit. Then I can adjust the rest of the unit based on this.

      I also use a free presentation web 2.0 tool when I am introducing a new unit like Emaze or Prezi for Education. There are many more out there, just do a web search and you'll be amazed at what is available.  Use whatever tool works best for you and your students. Today's students they see a traditional slide presentation as the abridge version of the text book and this is all the need to focus on. Heck often it is the textbook because few class have access to digital or traditional textbook as it is. What I do is create "Jeopardy" game that we play in class as teams or a bingo sheet.  I will give them a sheet that is customized to that unit. Usually it will have either the terms, definitions, or even image of the content we are covering. They will then have to fill out this sheet, it will serve as their notes and future study guide for an end of unit assessment, if I should go that route. I only give "tests" on small or simple units. I actually prefer on major units to have them work in teams of 2-3 on a project that they present at the end of the unit.

     Now if you are teaching at the secondary level you don't have to worry about the "clash of generations" in your classroom. Except in how your generation, is different than the generation you have sitting in your classroom. Those of you who teach post-secondary have to worry potentially about all five (5) generations that could be in your classroom. To make it easier for you to reference I have create a generations matrix that you can view below in PDF format. The reason you need to be able to recognize the different types is because they each have their own way of learning best.  There is no getting around the fact that you learn best based upon the toys they played with growing up, teaching tools that were new or innovative for their time, and any major social influences from their youth. I will often show this matrix in class and we will discuss it, it helps students and myself to realize what the learning needs are for everyone in the class.


     A great video I like to show at the start of a new semester is "Generation C (Gen Z)" by Geoff Belleau.  I will show this and the we have an open discussion on is what he says true? How do you learn best?  How can we customize learning so it helps everyone? Etc...  We dedicate at least 45 minutes to this alone. This gets the students thinking about and more invested in the actual learning process, versus me standing there telling them you will learn XYZ today.  I will often ask them how do their parents react to new technology versus how they do.  Then I ask why do they think it's this way.  Anything to get them thinking about how we all work together.




      Yes classrooms and students are way different now! Actually thank goodness they are different because they old sit in desk , in these rows is actually a model that was created to educate factory workers.  Now a days that is not a skill that most employers want, they need problem solvers, team players, and work ethic not "drone workers". The sky is the limit for your students and your classes! You really can do amazing things in your classes if you just meet the different generations in your classes, at least half way. No your not crazy, your students really are "from a different planet", or the the least a different learning style than what you know and love.




      So please take the time to get to know your students and their learning styles.  You can then work together to make sure they learn your content and don't just "pass your class". After all we love our content and think it's "awesome sauce" and we want everyone to think the same, or we wouldn't be teaching it would we.  Even Bloom's Taxonomy has evolved to meet the needs of the new generations, if that can then so can you.

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