8 Considerations For Teaching The Next Generation of Learners

The next generation of students is already here!

Generation Alpha was born in 2010 and their oldest members are just now entering our classrooms. These children are virtually born with devices in their hands and are already being labeled as Generation Glass.

Appropriate & Inappropriate behavior Worksheet / life skills

Without explicit instruction, this generation already:

Intuitively navigates digital devices

Searches Youtube by voice for answers to questions, rather than Google

Learns by figuring out and trial/error

Is drawn to interactive media such as apps that let them make decisions or have choices about the direction of a game, the manipulation of a character, figure, or setting, and apps that let them create movies and music

Displays a strong desire for instant gratification

Teachers will need to consider the implications of the needs of Generation Alpha as they develop curricula, plan for meaningful lesson experiences, and support dispositions like Habits of Mind. To that end, here are eight contemporary learning considerations based on the unique needs of this next generation of students, though they will also support the right now needs of ALL students:

PRODUCTS OF VALUE. Contemporary Learners want to make things–not just engineering projects in STEM or makerspaces, but they also want to produce their own media and make things that matter. The creation of new products will be targeted at audiences beyond the classroom and they will seek feedback and responses from those audiences. These students will have entrepreneurial identities and will need to be supported in the fruition of their ideas.

DECISIONAL CAPITAL. Contemporary learners want to know that their input is valued and they want to have a hand in choosing WHAT and HOW they will learn. Choices matter very much to Contemporary learners, both those offered by the teacher and those that they come up with themselves.

PERSONALIZED EXPERIENCES. In order to personalize something, it must be relevant, meaningful, and engaging to the individuals impacted. As an extension of decisional capital, student voices and the choices that come from those voices are what really matter to Personalizing Learning. Teachers can establish or co-establish learning goals, then develop a collaborative plan with students to meet those learning goals. To clarify, I do not mean that we should stick kids on computers and let them self-navigate a program that offers students a handful of teacher or vendor created choices and call that teaching or learning.

CONTEXT MATTERS. Content is important, but CONTEXT matters just as much. Access to content and background knowledge is increasingly available everywhere and device agnostic. The big focal point for Gen A’s are around skills and what they will DO with their learning. Contemporary learners want to know the WHY of their work, not just the WHAT. This is partially an extension of Products of Value, insofar as students need to be working toward authentic goals that are meaningful and engaging.

HABITS OF MIND. – Generation Alpha is going to increasingly be connected digitally, but not physically. They will need explicit instruction in learning to work with others: sharing, thinking interdependently, asking and answering meaningful questions, being empathetic, etc. These dispositions will be critical in the education of this coming generation if we want them to grow up to be collaborative and communicative global citizens.

TECHNOLOGY. Generation Alpha will be the most technologically literate generation in the history of humanity. But the technology itself doesn’t matter. It’s what these students will DO with the technology to create products of value, discover information, collaborate, give and receive feedback, and foster innovations.

FEEDBACK. Generation Alpha is not going to care about grades and traditional grading practices. They are not going to care about authoritarian structures that exist just because that is the way it’s always been. They are going to challenge long-held traditions and seek new forms of demonstrating not only what they learned, but HOW WELL they learned it. They will be uninterested in standardization and comparison to others; they will be want to be apprentices seeking mastery through conversation, trial-and-error, feedback, and growth cycles where failure doesn’t exist.

TRADITION. Besides grading practices, there are some other traditional facets of school that will either enhance or diminish the learning of Gen A’s. This includes flexible environments, traditional notions around homework, school schedules, use of spaces in schools, blended learning opportunities, and connected devices that are as common as crayons.

References:

  • “Meet Generation Alpha: Teaching the Next Generation of Students.” Marie Alcock, Michael Fisher, & Allison Zmuda. August 10, 2017. https://www.solutiontree.com/blog/teaching-generation-alpha/
  • The Quest for Learning: How to maximize student engagement. Marie Alcock, Michael Fisher, & Allison Zmuda.
  • Professional Capital by Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves
  • Students at the Center by Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda
  • Bold Moves by Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Marie Alcock

Source: http://inservice.ascd.org/8-considerations-for-teaching-the-next-generation-of-learners-2/

How Classroom Seating is Changing to Help Today’s Diverse Learners

An old black and white photo from the archives of a renowned all-girls college shows students in class listening while furiously knitting and crocheting.  Traditional Native American meetings, and important negotiations are known to have taken place while members held a ‘talking stick’ and sat around a fire.  Out on the putting green some of the most important business deals and negotiations have been transacted over golf balls and clubs!

useful link: “Needs and Desires”

Fast-forward to today’s classrooms and the format for how we expect students to learn, listen and communicate is painfully different.  Rows of students, seated with torso and legs at 90-degree angles, face forward and sit erect. In fact, students who choose to play with items on their desks are accused of “fidgeting” and face sanctions for such “off-task” behavior. (Slouching or foot-tapping, doodling or pencil tapping is, of course, similarly discouraged).

As I write this article, I have abandoned my own desk, where my back is painfully compressed in a static chair. Instead, I have taken to working on my couch, with my laptop on my curled up knees—and my work just seems more fluid.

It is not clear how seating and standards for students in classroom space has become so militant, uniform, and well—just plain boring. Likely the large numbers of students and the chief goal of minimizing disruptive behavior while maximizing obedience to teacher-led instruction has led to linear rows of desks since the days of the one-room school house.

But Enter ‘Neurodiversity’ and, mercifully, the culture is changing.

Educators are increasingly embracing the notion that children are not wired the same, but this difference, or ‘neurodiversity’ is not necessarily bad—just different. For instance, children can differ according to the amount of stimulation they can tolerate; with some being very sensitive to things such as noises and textures and the task of sitting still and others being   under-sensitive, in which case they, naturally seek out ways to arouse or energize themselves. Other areas of diversity, neurologically-speaking, concern the many children who have ADHD or show signs of distractibility or inattention.

I believe that it is the historic difficulties of managing children who have ADHD and other neuro-diverse conditions that  (thankfully) have necessitated alternative methods of sitting and learning in the classroom.

These innovative, more comfortable classrooms are still far and few between. But they are, in my opinion, a welcome alternative from sitting in a cold desk-chair for every class, every day.

Departures from the traditional student desk seat include:

  • Large inflated balls. These allow children to listen and write while getting some ‘wiggles’ out as needed.
  • Chair-sized, personal bean bag seats. Similarly, these cushiony chairs permit students to move and shift their bodies; lean ‘in’ to a conforming chair, as well as enjoy time on a rug, next to other collaborating peers. Kneading, squeezing and even elbowing the material also appears to sustain, rather than disrupt, attention to tasks.
  • Round-top stools. Some teachers might complain that these invite kids to spin aimlessly. They might be right, but aside from this potential pitfall, stools allow more flexibility and movement, and a break away from a board behind one’s back!
  • Miniature, low-lying rocking-chairs. I have seen students collaborating on a rug while enjoying the movements of rocking as needed. Since these are low-to-the ground, students are not able to rock in overly disruptive ways

The take-away message, having glimpsed some of these alternative classrooms, seems to be that:

  • With neurodiversity, comes the understanding that students are no longer best suited to sitting in a one-size-fits-all, static desk chair when learning.
  • One advantage of softer, flexible and/or movable seating units is the opportunity to self-regulate; that is, moving, squeezing, rocking, lightly bouncing etc., can inadvertently adjust the attention, energy levels and moods of various students.

I am hoping that as school districts across the country become more receptive to the neurodiversity concept, the old wooden or cold fiberglass desk assemblies will be used very minimally. Of course, schools are a long way from, say, permitting students to knit during lectures or hosting a fire pit summit and peace talk, but an array of different seating structures is definitely a start!

Source: https://www.educationworld.com/?custom_filter=section_front_teacher 

8 Considerations For Teaching The Next Generation of Learners

The next generation of students is already here!

Generation Alpha was born in 2010 and their oldest members are just now entering our classrooms. These children are virtually born with devices in their hands and are already being labeled as Generation Glass.

‘NEEDS’ (Who needs what?)

Without explicit instruction, this generation already:

  • Intuitively navigates digital devices
  • Searches Youtube by voice for answers to questions, rather than Google
  • Learns by figuring out and trial/error
  • Is drawn to interactive media such as apps that let them make decisions or have choices about the direction of a game, the manipulation of a character, figure, or setting, and apps that let them create movies and music
  • Displays a strong desire for instant gratification

Teachers will need to consider the implications of the needs of Generation Alpha as they develop curricula, plan for meaningful lesson experiences, and support dispositions like Habits of Mind. To that end, here are eight contemporary learning considerations based on the unique needs of this next generation of students, though they will also support the right now needs of ALL students:

  1. PRODUCTS OF VALUE. Contemporary Learners want to make things–not just engineering projects in STEM or makerspaces, but they also want to produce their own media and make things that matter. The creation of new products will be targeted at audiences beyond the classroom and they will seek feedback and responses from those audiences. These students will have entrepreneurial identities and will need to be supported in the fruition of their ideas.
  2. DECISIONAL CAPITAL. Contemporary learners want to know that their input is valued and they want to have a hand in choosing WHAT and HOW they will learn. Choices matter very much to Contemporary learners, both those offered by the teacher and those that they come up with themselves.
  3. PERSONALIZED EXPERIENCES. In order to personalize something, it must be relevant, meaningful, and engaging to the individuals impacted. As an extension of decisional capital, student voices and the choices that come from those voices are what really matter to Personalizing Learning. Teachers can establish or co-establish learning goals, then develop a collaborative plan with students to meet those learning goals. To clarify, I do not mean that we should stick kids on computers and let them self-navigate a program that offers students a handful of teacher or vendor created choices and call that teaching or learning.
  4. CONTEXT MATTERS. Content is important, but CONTEXT matters just as much. Access to content and background knowledge is increasingly available everywhere and device agnostic. The big focal point for Gen A’s are around skills and what they will DO with their learning. Contemporary learners want to know the WHY of their work, not just the WHAT. This is partially an extension of Products of Value, insofar as students need to be working toward authentic goals that are meaningful and engaging.
  5. HABITS OF MIND. – Generation Alpha is going to increasingly be connected digitally, but not physically. They will need explicit instruction in learning to work with others: sharing, thinking interdependently, asking and answering meaningful questions, being empathetic, etc. These dispositions will be critical in the education of this coming generation if we want them to grow up to be collaborative and communicative global citizens.
  6. TECHNOLOGY. Generation Alpha will be the most technologically literate generation in the history of humanity. But the technology itself doesn’t matter. It’s what these students will DO with the technology to create products of value, discover information, collaborate, give and receive feedback, and foster innovations.
  7. FEEDBACK. Generation Alpha is not going to care about grades and traditional grading practices. They are not going to care about authoritarian structures that exist just because that is the way it’s always been. They are going to challenge long-held traditions and seek new forms of demonstrating not only what they learned, but HOW WELL they learned it. They will be uninterested in standardization and comparison to others; they will be want to be apprentices seeking mastery through conversation, trial-and-error, feedback, and growth cycles where failure doesn’t exist.
  8. TRADITION. Besides grading practices, there are some other traditional facets of school that will either enhance or diminish the learning of Gen A’s. This includes flexible environments, traditional notions around homework, school schedules, use of spaces in schools, blended learning opportunities, and connected devices that are as common as crayons.

Source: http://inservice.ascd.org/8-considerations-for-teaching-the-next-generation-of-learners-2/