Google+ Badge

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Engaging Students Who Want to Learn Differently

A child, who understands the tech world, is frustrated in class.

He has access to multiple tools at home and can learn with depth utilizing those tools, yet at school the palette is greatly limited in comparison.

He wants to talk about his at-home investigations, questions, connections, but few to no educators in his midst understand the tools he uses or have access to them.

Hence, sitting in front of paper/pencil tasks, he squirms uncomfortably.

A dream has been born in him. He sees the potential, and asks, why can't we:
  • Minecraft
  • Playstation
  • Xbox
  • Sphero
  • Makey Makey
  • 3-D Print
  • Little Bits
  • Video Games
  • Wii
  • Skype
  • Hangout
  • Code
  • Choose
  • Invent
to learn.

I want to unlock the potential this child holds for his own learning, and the learning of our world.

He's been gifted with an extraordinary mind, but the frustration of discord between the world he desires to learn in and the world of learning that exists in school gets in the way.

I dream of teaching him better by
  • readily trying out multiple tools with flexibility, conversation, discussion.
  • letting him pass competencies quickly so he can get on to what he really wants to do which is connect with like-thinkers young and old to question, build, create, share online and off
  • allowing him to bring his own tech tools to class.
  • prompting him to create his own questions and investigations.
  • allowing movement when and how he needs to move.  
  • putting him in charge of the playstation and letting him use his great gifts with younger children to teach them the new tools of our world--the exciting, new tools of learning.
Yet, I'm trapped by multiple rules, laws, restrictions that don't allow me ready flexibility with tech integration and teaching. I'm restricted to lengthy permission lists and the need to explain, support, argue, and negotiate my point of view and willingness to explore in order to teach this child well.

The parameters create a challenge, one I wish wasn't so tight and restricting, yet just posing the dilemma helps me to think about this child and his like-minded, capable peers.

I want to acknowledge their gifts, strengths, and potential, and give them a positive way to use their talents. I don't want to repeat again and again knowledge and lessons they've already completed, but instead give them new ideas for growth, and time for talk and share.

My online interface with thinkers all over the world has helped me to understand these gifted learners, learners who could use their talent for wrong doing if not given the leeway to integrate their quest into learning that matters.

Do you have learners like this? How do you meet their needs, questions, and desires? I'm thinking about his as I'm about to start the new year of teaching. I look forward to your share.