Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Modern pedagogy goes low-tech

Sometimes teachers think they need to use all the bells and whistles to interest kids. There's a host of interconnected ideas that apply to today's learners. They need choice. They need project-based learning. They are knowledge-builders and content creators. They like to work collaboratively. These are just a few of the ideas about how to best engage young learners.

Even when we are doing low-tech tasks in our classroom, taking advantage of knowledge about what learners today are like can make things run smoother.

My sixth grade students recently picked books for book circles. They had six books to chose from. Some of the students were excited about individual books, but I wanted to make the process of choosing books more authentic. How do I chose a book at the bookstore? Usually I pick up more than one book and I spend some time reading it before buying it. How did this translate into my classroom?

Students were allowed to look at all of the book choices. They had to pick out their top two book choices and spend fifteen minutes reading each. They had a few questions about the books to answer and in the end, they wrote down which book they wanted to read.

Some of the students knew before the preview reading what they wanted to read and stayed with it. Others changed their mind after investigating two books. When we finished our book preview time, some students said, "Mrs. Montgomery, can't we spend the rest of the day reading? This book is so good, I just want to read it the rest of class."

Normally we have free reading time in almost every class. Usually I don't see this kind of enthusiasm, even though the students are allowed to pick their books for free reading. Somehow building up the idea that students had more choice in this selection than they normally would in a reading selection and the fact that they were reading the same book as friends increased the motivation to read.

Thus you have new pedagogy applied to old fashioned reading.


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