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Monday, July 25, 2011

Generation Y - a rewarding challenge?

It has been some time since I have had the time to put fingers to keyboard on this blog.

I am certainly enjoying my shift in the personal challenge of being a frontline educator again. In fact my mindset about teaching has been given a realistic jolt.
The reason being is that I perhaps underestimated the demand of Generation Y.

The Millenium Generation or Gen Y ( those born 1980 - 2000) have never known a world without computers or the Internet. They are sometimes referred to as the digital natives. My youngest son is in this fold.
They tend to be global in outlook and very accepting of differences. However they are also used to instant gratification, multitasking and can certainly present classroom challenges such as inattentiveness, social conflict and reliance on technical devices.

In my experience in returning to the 'whiteboard jungle' I have found teaching definitely needs to be highly interactive. The use of YouTube and web based resources is imperative. The attention span of the students today rarely exceeds 30 mins so your programme needs to be varied and  purposeful.
I have found the visual stimulation you provide is a key for rich discussion and critical thinking and  learning engagement.

Group work can be highly successful with G-Y kids because they enjoy this aspect of learning socialisation. I believe too often many have been afflicted with the TV/ Computer as their way to link with others.

However I found that roles within the group need to be clearly defined or there can be chaos!
A group leader and recoder needs to be identified and direction in possible causes and solutions needs to be offered. I have also found that varying group structures within the class from whole class, to small group, to peer learning provides invaluable variety.

For me, being the 'guide by the side' is the catalyst for allowing students to learn by discovery. Allowing students to solve a dilemma or reflect on a possible solution, with your quiet overseeing from behind, has merit. So often I see students being given worksheets and organisers but with little input from the teacher ?
Hang on isn't that why we are there in the first place??? That's another blog in he making......

I often present students with a vocabulary immersion before embarking on an inquiry or research activity. I find this provides the " spark plug" in preparing students thinking and also gives a platform for common speak.

The use of technology and " cloud power" allows students to reflect, discuss and share their thoughts in a way they know and feel is purposeful.
Digital games certainly have their place in reinforcing and stimultaing the minds of our students of today. It is even more powerful if we relate it to the learning experiences we as teachers are focussing on. Just ask Robbie Deans & Wayne Smith why they promote their lads to engage in the PS digital arena of their game!
Engaging the attentionof G-Y kids is an interesting challenge as they are used to having information from a wide range of resources.

Yep, teaching has changed dramatically in the past few years and as a reborn guide on the side this has indeed been a revelation. But bloody great fun!
The most enlightening thing for me is that in these times as a teacher you are learning with the kids - it's a true learning partnership.
How good can it get!

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