The course of action begins with a solid curriculum design process/framework to incorporate a path for learning. The route to the destination; however, should be left open to the learner’s needs and interest. This idea can be difficult for some people since most of their schooling and teaching has been done in a very teacher-directed way. Now, more than ever, our classrooms must be student-driven. This can happen within the right classroom culture.
What needs to happen?
Give Up Control: Allow students to study areas of interest. Within any unit, most students can find at least one area of interest that can be used as self-directed learning. If not, allow students time to work outside of the unit on content that they find interesting. This work will reap many benefits, one benefit being student motivation. Naturally, students will want to use technology to research their topic and this should be encouraged and allowed.
Model Connected Learning: Our students are connected and we should be too. Modeling positive learning online through a Personal Learning Network is highly important for our students. If you are not currently connected, then choose one social media outlet to learn and use. Once you appreciate the power of learning and contributing online, then you begin to understand how to connect these opportunities to your curriculum and students’ learning. Students can connect globally to research their area of interest and/or blog or tweet about their findings.
Incorporate Inquiry & Real World Experiences: There is no better way to motivate your students than to let them wonder, ask questions, and connect learning to their lives in a meaningful, authentic way. I know this is a shift for most educators but it is a shift that is needed. Many of our primary students come to school as inquisitive, independent learners, but in a short period of time things change. We begin to answer and think for students and ask questions that they can find the answers to online by themselves. To begin, reflect on the lessons that you teach. Find opportunities within those lessons when you can let your students question their learning & grapple with the content. At first, this may not be easy for students because they are used to being given the answers. When ready, ask students to connect these questions and their new learning to something that is happening in their life. They come up with much better ideas than we ever would.
In conclusion, technology is very motivating to students but you must find authentic ways to incorporate it into your curriculum and their learning. Remember, don’t feel like you have to have all of the answers or be an expert with the technology (by the way, none of us ever will be). Your students are already the experts. Let them be in charge.