Tag Archives: parents

Kids teach parents tech in their own way

This makes me laugh; I think my eldest son may have left home because of this.

It’s true that many of the ‘parent’ generation are less than expert at tech. Embarrassing, yes, and something I can completely relate to. When I did my Master of Education online, I didn’t even (dare I say it) know where the ‘on’ switch on the computer was. So the line ‘have you tried switching it off and on?’ would have not helped me one little bit.

My son was about 12 then and helped me struggle through the whole thing so that I could complete the degree. It was painful for both of us. I used to think that, once I’d logged onto the Charles Sturt University site, if I made a mistake, the people at the other end would know, and it would be embarrassing. The same as when I was a very young and I thought the people on the TV could see me. I’m not very tech-savvy.

It’s ironic  because, as my friends know, I’m connected a lot of the time (still don’t have the phone, but contemplating). My role as teacher librarian in finding and setting up the most interesting, relevant and engaging resources is made possible only by the enormous amount of time I spend online connecting with people and organisations, asking questions, joining discussions, saving it all to Diigo and Vodpod, sharing it with people.

It’s interesting to note the emerging learning styles of young people, on the whole, demonstrate an independence we never had. Connected, they find what they need to do what they want. We get on their nerves because we are helpless and think we need someone to tell us how to do something. They google, youtube, and whatever else, or even create videos to teach us, just to get us off their backs.

As educators, it would be nice if we let go of the traditional teaching/preaching approach, gave our students some credit, trust and space, and allowed them to learn actively by taking charge of the research/learning process. Instead of us teaching them, they could create teaching videos for each other. I hope to try and turn around some of the learning and teaching in the classroom this year.

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Filed under 21st century learning, parents, technology

Educational resources in The New York Times

The New York Times has a ‘Teacher Connections’ section which is updated daily. Just browsing here today and saw some great stuff, so I thought I’d share.
There’s a Daily Lesson Plan and a Daily Lesson Plan archive, which has amongst its categories Civics, Global History, American History (of course), Fine Arts, Geography, Language Arts, Mathematics, Media Studies, and more.

I’ve copied one of the Fine Arts lessons into my art wiki: Art happens: investigating the modern art of Robert Rauschenberg. The overview states:

Students investigate the work of American Modernist Robert Rauschenberg by responding to his art and reading about his life and ideas. They then individually create a work of their own that pays homage to a Rauschenberg to demonstrate an understanding of his aesthetic sensibility.

The lesson is well planned, and includes objectives, resources/materials, background, activities/procedures, including homework, further questions for discussion, evaluation/assessment, vocabulary, extension activities, interdisciplinary connections, references and other information on the web. There is a feedback option at the end of the lesson.

The News Snapshot is an excellent idea for students to interact with the latest news:

Every Monday through Friday, News Snapshot features a newsworthy and provocative photo from The New York Times, along with the basic set of questions answered by journalists when relaying the news– who, what, where, when, why and how.

This section includes student handout, teacher’s page, suggested activities, and the questions.

Issues in depth is subtitled ‘Teaching with the times’ and includes curricular materials, news specials, and issues in depth. Each page provides a wealth of resources: lesson plans, Times articles, multimedia, archival materials, quizzes, crosswords, related Web sites and more. This section is designed to help students make connections between course material and issues and events in the news. There’s are wide variety of topics here, including the election, Iraq; and also material on literature, including specific books, poetry, Shakespeare, journalism, and more.

‘Science and Health’ includes topics, such as teen health, global warming, hurricanes, and more.

There’s more here – eg. crossword puzzles for the different curricular areas, ‘on this day in history’,etc., and I won’t go into detail for all of it; you’ll just have to look for yourselves. Actually, I do want to mention ‘Campus weblines’ where you can learn about how to produce a quality online newspaper from the student editors themselves. This is informative and detailed.

I recommend you give this section of The New York Times a squiz, and then dart over to Student Connections which ‘Science questions and answers’ and letters to the editor amongst other things.

But wait, there’s more! Parent Connections includes things like ‘coversation starters’ (they have thought of everything!) and a family movie guide.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the educational section of The New York Times from now on.

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Filed under Education, media, Teacher librarians, Web 2.0

Making parents our partners in 21st century learning

If we want to shift learning and teaching into the 21st century, there are a number of people we need to take with us. Apart from teachers and school administrators, we can’t ignore parents in this move, and we really should be thinking about how we do this. The K12 Online Conference 2008: Kicking it up a notch tackles the subject of parents as partners – Parental Engagement in the 21st Century – Leveraging web 2.0 tools to engage parents in non-traditional ways – giving much food for thought, as well as practical suggestions of ways to move forward.

Lorna Constantini and Matt Montagna connect from afar online and ask how we can move forward from teachers’ and parents’ fear of the internet. They remind us that parents haven’t been brought up on the internet, so it’s natural for them to fear something that is foreign. The question is, what can we say to parents that will influence them in a positive way about their children’s online lives? I like the way Lorna and Matt have brought it back to what parents can understand – that we are all social beings, having an innate desire to connect with people and develop relationships, and that social networking is just a new form of traditional social connections.  As Matt points out,

 although online networks can be playful, they can also be powerful, enabling people to meet others with similar interests, solve problems together, create software programs together, participate in social and professional discussion with people we may not know in the physical world, etc. Our kids do this instinctively and fluently, posting content, interacting with content posted by others, learning from and teaching one another, having conversations with people all over the world – the opportunities to learn are tremendous. If we look at this new focus for young people, we should realise that they’ve moved away from what has long been the criticism of passive television viewing, and found new engagement in an interactive environment. If parents understand the positive aspects of social networking, they will realise that this shift is enormously powerful.

A major concern for parents is safety on the internet. Matt and Lorna talk about reassuring parents that young people are better at warding off potentially harmful situations than we give them credit for. They also ask a serious question, one that we need to discuss in schools: Who is guiding and mentoring our young people online now? Who is rolemodelling ethical and effective online interactions? And the answer is, apart from isolated individuals, nobody.

Schools may think they are by using filtering software, but it doesn’t encourage responsible use. All it does is encourage kids to find ways around filters, and it also blocks valuable and educational content. On the whole, parents don’t know what their kids are doing on the internet, so they are unable to provide guidance. This needs to change! Why? In every aspect of kids’ lives, parents provide key guidance that their kids need.

Here’s the best suggestion for parent PD that I’ve heard – why not get parents to set up Facebook accounts, blogs, and interact with some of the other Web 2.0 applications. This is a great way demystify their kids’ online socialising, enabling parents to shift from policing to mentoring their kids. Rather than lecture parents about the theory, we should just urge them to give it a shot.. give the example of email, which was new once, but we’re now used to it and depend on it.

And what a great idea to use new tools and platforms to reach out and connect to parents. Parents as partners is a Facebook group set up for parents – an online forum for questions and support which also models new technologies. I think modelling is the best way to teach someone. Just as important as modelling, transparency is a great way to let parents in on what their kids are up to. Have a look at the live video broadcast of kids away on an excursion, where parents can chat with their kids. Lastly, the NING network allows ongoing communication and collaboration between parents and teachers. Interestingly, the parents who were involved in the NING are the ones who were not involved in school in any other capacity – another example of the power of online tools.

We might feel isolated in our schools in advocating mindset change, and connecting with each other, either online or in person, is a powerful thing to do. But we’ll be banging our heads against the wall if we don’t find a way to effect a mindset change in all members of the school community. If we get parents on-side, they’ll be our partners in supporting students in 21st century learning. As it says on the Parents as partners blog, students achieve better when parents are involved in their child’s education.

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Filed under Education, parents, Teacher librarians, Web 2.0