Meeting students where they are at requires knowing and caring about where they are at, what their life consists of and the environment that surrounds them. More often than not a key characteristic about students today almost all educators can say or will say is, “they are techie, raised in a digital world”. While this is true, meeting them where they are at requires more than technology. It requires knowing how, when, and why they use technology. The data below is from 6 years ago with 1 in 5 kids, ages 0-8 years old, using a mobile device everyday. Keep in mind, this data was reported by parents, not by the children themselves. Thinking about today’s youth, I am sure the numbers have moved around to various areas.
Students are mostly online and mostly on their smartphone due to not all having a desktop or laptop at home. In order to create an environment with personalized learning, educators can incorporate the technology students already use into assignments. For example, students use Instagram and collages, rather than just having random photos, students can create a digital vision board. Allow for flexibility in our assignments are turned in, written papers, a blog style, email, or a standard Microsoft Word document. Writing in the world comes in many formats, introducing that to students is relevant and adds to their experiential learning. (Teach them to write more than 280 characters – the limit for Twitter.)
While students are reading while on their phones, they’re not reading for comprehension. Reading is an area where students seem to struggle from elementary through college. Utilizing programs such as InDesign, educators can take everyday textbooks and turn them into interactive ebooks with students flipping through pages, moving images, and questions on the screen. This week, I explored InDesign further and took a PDF version of a story and made it an interactive ebook for students to flip through the pages. Keeping in mind varying levels and abilities, the ebook has audio on each page. Taking this concept of an ebook, educators can make personalized stories where students choose their storyline throughout the book.
To view the book online visit The Scholarship Jacket eBook.
Students experience life through their phones and making the learning personalized does not require spending thousands of dollars on in-depth software and programs, it simply means making it personal in the class. Provide a list of possible stories and allow the students to choose the one they want to read. Maybe they identify more with a particular character or situation.
As an educator, one important thing to remember is that every class has learning objectives and there are multiple ways to reach the learning objectives. Students can be allowed the freedom to build the learning experience as long as it moves towards the learning objectives. In our reading summer bridge, the learning objectives are simple and the way we help students achieve them depends on the engagement of the students and their contributions to seek out learning.