Posts Tagged ‘Teaching’
The gathering of information begins with a need or desire for an answer to a question. Perhaps that question is posed by a teacher or by the student herself. The next course of action in schools these days is usually to consult a website, or perhaps a book. Information literacy skills support students in navigating this process of finding answers.
But once students are equipped with these vital research skills and find answers to questions, what is the next step toward understanding and integrating the information they find?
Another way to ask that question might be this: How can we turn information gathering into wisdom?
“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”—Socrates
Socrates prized questioning over information gathering. He valued the qualities of critical thinking and engagement with a topic. He believed in creating a learning atmosphere of cooperation, dialogue, listening, and further questioning—cornerstones of the Socratic method, and foundations of the Socratic seminar.
Socrates believed that collecting and memorizing information provided little opportunity for true learning. And as learning was best nurtured in a social atmosphere, the lone activity of research provided little support for critical thinking and comprehension.
Navigating and bridging the educational essentials of research and the art of critical thinking may be a challenging journey.
The Socratic seminar is one way to help connect these two elements of a successful classroom.
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”—Socrates
The Socratic seminar provides students with a forum to ask questions and exchange ideas with their peers on a specific topic, event, or piece of literature. Students come prepared to engage in discussion with fellow students, having read assigned materials, conducted appropriate research, made personal connections, and formulated questions to bring to the seminar.
The teacher becomes the seminar’s facilitator, keeping the students on topic and asking open-ended questions when necessary. The goal is to allow students to practice the art of true dialogue. Emphasis is placed on the value of listening and respecting everyone’s questions and opinions. Socratic seminars are not debates; rather, they are cooperative conversations geared toward critical thinking and discovery.
Interested in learning more about this teaching and learning tool? Check out this Socratic Seminar Strategy Guide and this Seminar Discussion Rubric, and select from these Socratic seminar lesson plans on literary texts, immigration, and human gene editing.
“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”—Socrates
Although national- and state-level issues like the Common Core testing debate dominate U.S. education policy discussions, micro-level issues like student engagement often get overlooked. According to the 2014 Gallup Student Poll, 53 percent of public school students in grades 5–12 are engaged at school; almost half of all students are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” Gallup’s poll defines student engagement as “the involvement in and enthusiasm for school, [which] reflects how well students are known and how often they get to do what they do best.” So how do we improve student engagement? One way is to foster more communication between you—the educator—and your students.
Asking students questions about their interests and their lives can improve student-educator relations and academic outcomes. In a recent post, Gallup education research specialist Mark Reckmeyer tells the story of how a simple question—What do you like to do at home?—transformed a disengaged student into an engaged one. When this student revealed his passion for cooking, his teacher used this knowledge by aligning the curriculum to help him become more actively engaged.
Last spring, third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz tried to get to know her students better by assigning them a writing prompt called “I wish my teacher knew.” Schwartz—along with the rest of the nation—was blown away by her students’ responses, many of which were posted on Twitter under the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew. Students revealed poignant details about their lives, such as not having enough pencils, not having any friends to play with, and having parents who were deported. This assignment gave students the ability to voice their biggest challenges. It also gave Schwartz the opportunity to understand those challenges and adjust her teaching accordingly.
Both anecdotes demonstrate the power of communicating with students. Students are people, too. They have hobbies, talents, worries, and challenges—just like the rest of us. The more you know about your students, the better equipped you will be to improve student engagement and, in turn, academic outcomes. So #AskAStudent. Ask about their likes and dislikes. Ask about their challenges. Ask about their strengths. Ask their opinion. Asking questions will let students know that they are valued. It will also help you understand your students’ interests and needs.
There are many ways to ask students questions. Reckmeyer’s student was asked in person. Schwartz assigned her students a writing prompt, allowing them to remain anonymous—although many chose to include their names and share with the class. How you choose to approach #AskAStudent will likely depend on your students’ grade level: younger students, after all, might be more willing participants than older students. Use your best judgment. If one tactic doesn’t work, find another. Ultimately, the goal is to build student engagement from the ground up.
Below is a collage of students who were asked, “What do you like to do when you are not in school?” Help launch the #AskAStudent movement by sharing your assignments and responses with us on Twitter @ProQuest.
Social Media in the Classroom. Yea or Nay?
Social media use continues to grow. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, 74 percent of Internet-connected adults use social media sites. A 2015 Pew Survey found that 76 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 17 use social media, with 71 percent using more than one social media site. In schools, social media use has been slowly making inroads, thanks in large part to librarians.
“Social media has become one of the greatest educational tools of all time, and yet, it goes untaught. Why? Fear of the unknown? Lack of value? The time is now for education to instead embrace this form of learning and begin, even in small ways, embedding social media lessons in all classrooms.”
—Don Goble, Multimedia Instructor
Social media use in schools, however, has been controversial. Some educators argue that social media literacy is essential in the twenty-first century. Others argue that social networking sites distract students and further tether them to technology. Students are contributing to the debate as well. In the April 22, 2015, issue of Education Week, high school student Katie Benmar argues that teachers should use social media to enhance learning and engage students.
“I hope that educators will consider experimenting more with technology and social media in their classrooms in a way that will be intellectually challenging to students. Believe me, your students will appreciate it, even if not every attempt is successful.”
–Katie Benmar, High School Student
Educators and students who want to use social media in the classroom face another obstacle: Internet filtering. According to a 2012 American Association of School Librarians survey, Internet filtering blocks social media sites 88 percent of the time, which severely limits educators’ options. Additionally, educators who request approval to bypass Internet filtering have to endure lengthy wait-times.
“The main reason I’d like to try to avoid social media use is a moral one. Kids today are addicted to technology; school can, and should, remain the one safe haven where they can unplug and just be present. Do we really want to give them another reason to be ‘connected?’ ”
–Gail Leicht, Eighth-Grade Language Arts Teacher
Overall, however, social media use in schools is increasing. How quickly will social media be integrated into the classroom? Will the disparate use of social media in schools contribute to the digital divide? Answers to these questions remain to be seen.
Do you think social networking sites have a place in schools? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @ProQuest or in the comments below.
We have an Edmodo community page!
For educators not yet using Edmodo in the classroom, it’s a free and secure social learning network for teachers, students, and schools. On Edmodo, teachers and students can collaborate, share content, and use educational apps to augment classroom learning with fun and engaging technology. To get started, see this great blog post from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning: All the Resources Teachers Need to Start Using Edmodo in Class.
For those of you already using Edmodo in the classroom, this community provides a seamless way for you to integrate ProQuest content directly into your classroom or library activities, saving you time searching for relevant materials. In our Edmodo collection, we are offering training resources, curriculum guides, free CultureGrams PDF reports and more directly based on your feedback.
We’re excited about our community to connect and collaborate with educators. Visit us at https://www.edmodo.com/publisher/ProQuest today and browse our collection for materials you can use in your classroom or library tomorrow!
On July 10, 1925 the State v. John Scopes “Monkey” trial began in Dayton, Tennessee, touching off a national debate on creationism, evolution, and public school teaching. High school biology teacher John T. Scopes was charged with violating Tennessee’s Butler Act by illegally teaching the theory of evolution. The “trial of the century” was an epic event, attended by hundreds of reporters and others who crowded the Rhea County Courthouse. The trial was covered on the front-page of the nation’s newspapers, with live nationwide radio coverage reporting the sensational news. The legendary Clarence Darrow, a renowned criminal defense attorney and an ardent opponent of religious fundamentalism, represented Scopes. The prosecution was led by former Congressman, Secretary of State and three-time Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, who was a leader in the anti-evolution movement. On July 21, the jury found Scopes guilty of violating the law and fined him $100, but the conviction was later overturned. The Tennessee law stood for another 42 years, until it was repealed in 1967. The verdict in the Scopes trial had a far-reaching effect on the teaching of evolution in public school classrooms. It was not until the 1960s that evolution began to reappear in school textbooks.
Today, almost 90 years later, the controversy over the teaching of evolution continues. To learn more about this topic, turn to SIRS Knowledge Source. SIRS Issues Researcher’s Teaching of Evolution Leading Issue features an overview of the subject, a selection of relevant full-text documents and multimedia resources, as well as an Essential Question with answers and viewpoints on both sides of the issue.
What do you think? Should the theory of evolution be a part of the science curriculum? We welcome your thoughts in the comment section below.