Thursday, March 29, 2007

Middle School Students Have Their Say

Researchers a NC State University's William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation conducted the "Having Our Say" Project. The project explored a middle school students' perspective on classroom teaching methods. The results will be presented during the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Chicago on April 13th.

The study was simple in nature. They wanted to know what skills and tools students feel they need in order to be successful and academically engaged in school.

Before I go any further, you can watch this video and let the kids tell you.

I am going to highlight some things that caught my attention, but you can read the full press release here.

"The majority of students noted that they use a variety of technologies outside of school, and they would like to be able to use these tools in school."

  • To me this is a no brainer. Student will be more productive and attentive if you let them use the tools they enjoy using. They already have the proficiency, and I think many teachers would be surprised at what they can produce

"Using computers was the one activity that all ethnicities stated they liked best in school. Despite the fact that a high percentage of the students were receiving free-or-reduced lunches at school, they had access to the Internet and cell phones outside of school."

  • The top activity all ethnicities enjoyed in school was using computers. Could this be because a school is local, but the internet is worldwide? While lots of professionals talk about "closing the gap", maybe they should just ask the students. I think they have the answer.
"These students expressed a concern that sometimes it appeared that teachers did not understand that technology is a big part of students’ lives outside of school."

  • I wouldn't just limit this is teachers. I can't stand to hear the line, "it was good enough for me when I was in school." What they fail to realize is that they had the best tools available. Watching a reel movie on a projector was great at the time, only because there wasn't anything better. Reel movies were replaced with VCR's and it was great, again because there wasn't anything better. Now we have DVD's that can be played in a stand- alone player or a laptop, but what does my school have? VCR's. The same could be said for blackboards and overhead projectors, they were great. But you couldn't store what you wrote on the blackboard, post it on the internet for parents to see. This possible today. Why are we holding them back? Shouldn't we give them the best tools to help them succeed.

“Students clearly want to bring technology experiences that they have as part of a social network outside of school into school and apply it to the learning process as a way to increase academic engagement...”

“Demonstrating a sophisticated sense of what is needed to be successful in society, they voiced concerns about their schools not being up-to-date in terms of facilities, technologies and curricula.”
  • Students aren't given the tools they need to succeed and they already know this.

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