Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Teaching Tip #110

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #110
Millennials.  Love ‘em. Hate ‘em.  Love ‘em OR hate ‘em.  Love ‘em AND hate ‘em.  Take your pick.  But like it or not they are the largest generation of American kids ever and now they’re in college and the workforce.
That’s how old I’ve become.  I’m no longer teaching millennials.  I’m teaching whatever is the next generation.  Generation Z?
Still, I think we can glean a lot of the generation of our current students (whatever it is going to be called) by looking at the previous generation, the beloved millennials.
This article from Forbes, delves into a massive study that was done on millennials in the workforce.
Finding #2 - Millennials are fast learners who bring expertise in emerging skills in the workforce.
The author notes that this is a wake up call for all employers (and I’d certainly include teachers in that) to step up their technology game.
This one is huge for teachers (especially here at LHS where every kid has a laptop and 99% have smartphones).
I’ve had success in using social media to engage and build culture in my classes.  Futhermore, I find the challenge of trying to stay up to date with technology fun and essential.  How can I expect my students to step out of their comfort zones when it comes to my assignments when I don’t step outside of my comfort zone?
Another area that has been a success with technology (those ‘emerging skills’ the millennials and gen z have) is allowing my students to take portions of the texts we read or the assignments we do and “millennialize” them.
I routinely will have a group of students take a chapter from the book we happen to be reading (usually Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist, Steven Johnon’s Where Good Ideas Come From, or Ken Robinson’s The Element) and have them teach it to the class.  The catch is that I want them to construct their dream lesson.  I tell them to think of the most boring lesson they’ve ever had to suffer through.  Then do the opposite of that.
This has been amazing.  I had one group of students last year conduct a QR code scavenger hunt.  The activity culminated in the groups having to find the student who developed the lesson using clues that were part of the scavenger hunt.  She was hiding in the elevator and gave out candy to the winners.  I had another group teach their lesson via Facetime while they were on vacation.  I had another group go old school and use zero technology.  Instead they had us go to the gym and wear goggles (thanks to Mr. Hickman’s Psychology class) while we tried to shoot baskets and do layups.  All the while the group was making a point on the power of not taking our perspectives for granted.  Another group was so inspired by this old school approach that they had each group of students do the old “egg drop” assignment where they were given various materials and had to build a contraption that would protect an egg from breaking when dropped from a stairwell.
I agree that millennials are fast learners (when properly motivated, that is) and bring a lot of skills to my classroom.
I see my job as properly motivating them and finding new ways to tap into their skills.

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