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I love the Olympics, but last night I found myself going, “Eh, I don’t care,” when C asked if he could watch a movie instead. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in the events, it was that I already knew the outcome; in fact I knew every highlight, so why waste my time watching it? And that was the ‘aha’ moment. For many students, the classroom is a lot like NBC’s broadcast delay of the Olympics.

  • They already know the end results before class starts.
  • They can easily find the answer with a simple search on www.google.com
  • They get tired of the banal commentary.
  • They tune in when it’s something they are interested in.
  • You cover the same things over and over, leaving out opportunities to learn about new things.
  • The experts debate whether technology offers an unfair advantage or changes the game; often banning it altogether.

So, what can we do?

  • Stop teaching basic facts. Really, it’s out there. I read this post from @GingerLewman this morning on Twitter http://gingerlewman.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/from-pencilpaper-rigor-to-pbl-the-transformation-of-a-teacher/ and she hits the nail on the head – they learn it by using it, not memorizing it.
  • Stop talking so much! Think about how long it takes before you tune out during a lecture. I make it about ten minutes before my mind wanders. The classroom needs to be collaborative and conversational. Rather than telling them what they are seeing, give them time to observe and reflect. You’ll be amazed at what they discover.
  • Get to know your students. It’s amazing what you can teach through real world problems and their interests.
  • Give up that unit/topic/book if it’s taught in other grade levels. You may love it, but they already know it. Let it go. Information is growing exponentially; we need to stop limiting their learning.
  • Embrace technology. Yes, it does give them an advantage. Yes, it does change the game. That’s not a bad thing.

So, as the new year begins, ask yourself, “Is my classroom on broadcast delay?” If the answer is yes, what are you going to do to fix that?

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