Saturday, March 08, 2008

Engage Me.

Bouncing around on Youtube this morning, I searched videos on teachers and students. You'd be both amazed and disgusted by what students are posting about our colleagues. Some videos were of teachers screaming at kids, some were videos of a "hot" teacher's ass or other body parts.
What I didn't find, of course, were videos posted by teachers of students who are idiots. For every teacher losing his temper, there is a student or two making it happen. It's easy to be sympathetic to our students when teachers flip out and go crazy, but if we're honest, sometimes we can't blame them.
But I did find a few videos about the modern K-12 student. Watch the video to get a view into our current students.
After putting up all types of facts about how much time they spend using computers or iPods, the signs plead with teachers to teach through technology and finally to "Engage Me."
And they are both absolutely correct and absolutely wrong.
We do need to engage our students, and technology would be great. But while these nice kids are posting videos, too many of our students don't have the same access.
These student ask us to engage them without realizing that not everything we learn must come in an engaging fashion. Students of all ages have a responsibility to find their own reason to engage.
I'm trying to teach my 9th graders the parts of speech so that we can learn to write effective sentences by using those parts to construct meaning. It isn't all that engaging, and I can admit that. But it is important. I really don't know of any other way to teach students why what they write makes sense or doesn't.
Anyway, check out the video; it's worth watching.


At 6:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stopped watching this video at the sign "only half of us will graduate from high school." That's when I burst out, "That's because you're spending so many hours texting and gaming! Take the iPod out of your ears and read a book. Learn how to be actively engaged in something that takes effort. Don't you self-righteously tell me I must feed your passivity with CGI-based educational gimmicks. Ugh." It's all well and good to "engage" kids by having them play with the magical plastic boxes that dominate their lives, but at some point they have to take on the hard work of learning how they work, and that isn't accomplished through "edu-tainment."

At 11:56 AM , Blogger Polski3 said...

Interesting. IMO, schools are far behind in the use of modern/ current/technology to teach. Funding and teacher training, as well as access for students is a big part of the reasons why schools do not teach this way. At my school, I still us filmstrips. Thats technology. Technology circa 1960. I have three computers in my classroom, two are Macs; one is my "teacher" computer for school use (check e-mails, word processing, gradebook), the other Mac is for students to take AR tests. The third computer is a lap top that I don't use. I don't use powerpoint. I think pp is used too much, by too many teachers, and the kids get turned off. I can sign my class up to go to the school computer lab, but one lab of maybe 30-35 working PC's for 850 students does not go too far.

Business says to schools, "train them".

Much of what was indicated about youth useing technology in this YouTube video is true, but not the reality for many of my lower socio-econ, second language students.

At 3:16 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

I understand the lack of technology. At my very low socio-economic high school, we have one computer lab with 25 computers--only 17 or so actually work properly.
The district offered a professional development day in powerpoint. What is funny about this? We have no way to utilize powerpoint in the classrooms.
Our career center has 25 or so very new computers, but are only available for "career" type projects.

At 6:46 PM , Blogger Smithie said...

I think engagement with and without computers is possible and necessary. Students need to see that a valid world exists outside the digital one they have created and choose to live in. However it is important, when possible, to meet them half way. It is we and our nation that will be left behind if we don't.

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At 7:32 PM , Blogger care020 said...

I question whether the comparison which students in China is being examined from all sides. From what I understand they do not have to deal with many of the classroom behavior issues we do because of their strict school policies. Would our students and parents be willing to follow the same rules? I don't recall stories of Chinese k-12 students with purple mohawks and numerous facial piercings making disrespectful comments to a teacher or administrator. I also doubt that the parents there would blame the school for children being disrespectful at school when they know they behave the same way at home.

At 10:06 AM , Anonymous Joe said...

Engaging students should not be confused with entertaining them. Engaging students means showing respect for their talents, creativity, interests and helping them see where the qualities they have can connect with the learning they may need.
Not long ago, I began a unit on the conventional uses of punctuation by an assignment to write a love letter to their favorite punctuation mark, using the qualities of the mark to spell out the reasons for their love. The students were highly engaged in the unit. They gathered information about punctuation marks. Then they shared that information with each other through clever love letters, letters from the front by troops of commas, punctuation attacks on e e cummings’ poems and several other engaging activities which required them to use correct punctuation in the writing they were doing, and which accomplished exactly what I wanted. When later, they used googledocs to create research papers, they were once again engaged by a technology that eases the revision process and allows for groups of students to make meaning together.
I have infinite patience for teachers who are searching for better ways to teach students what they need to know. I have little for those who screech about the little rotters needing to engage themselves (I have some patience with them because we all need to vent sometimes). It is our paid responsibility to teach every student that is placed in our classroom. We should be ENGAGED in becoming better at teaching them (with or without technology), not at judging them.


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