This is Where it’s At

I grew up in the era of hip-hop and a song that was often played was Black Sheep’s “The Choice is Yours.” The chorus line, “You can get with this, or you can get with that. I think you’ll get with this, for this is where it’s at.” I know it is not correct English but I will go ahead and ask for forgiveness for the title of this blog post and for stating that education must effectively, practically, and authentically embed technology because this is where we’re at. On a side note, you may be thinking, what does this photo have to do with this post? While vacationing I watched this bird wait out on this pier for endless hours. Other birds would come and go but seemingly this did not faze the bird. Could it be that the bird too, for another reason has made the same proclamation, “This is where it’s at?”

How many times have you heard, “Keep it real,” or “I’m just keeping it real?” Everyone and maybe even more so kids today want the experience of the real thing. How do we as educators give them a real experience with technology when curriculum already surpasses the calendar? When I think of technology, I think of the provision of doing things faster and maybe even better but is that always the case and if it is how are going to adapt what is currently our standard curriculum?

My background is in special education so to some extent I have had to be jack-of-all-trades and master of known. I wonder how technology will impact the research process. One efficient tool that I have already seen is a quick way to cite sources. No longer does a student have to know APA or MLA format. How will we address quoting sources when they are embedded links? In higher mathematics students use graphing calculators. What does an educator do when the use of this technology is on their smart phone, which is an item that most schools require you to have stowed during the school day? In my background of special education what assistive technologies are thought of as accommodations or modifications?

Another question I have is how will technology be used to level the playing field, a point that was raised in the article, Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project.

“These are not privileged youth who are growing up in the Silicon Valley households of start-up capitalists. Instead, they are working-class kids who embody the street smarts of how to hustle for money. Raised in a context where economic constraints remain part and parcel of child-hood and the experience of growing up, they were able to translate their interest in tinkering and messing around into financial ventures that gave them a taste of what it might be like to pursue their own self-directed careers. While these kinds of youths are a small minority among those we encountered, they demonstrate the ways in which messing around can function as a
transitional genre that leads to more sustained engagements with media and technology.”

How wonderful is that?

As we continue into this journey of the unknown in the world of technological possibilities, I think it is important that we continue to look to research and the experts in the field. Organizations like the Center for Media Literacy (CML) have done and are continue to do the work so that educators can focus on how to infuse the pedagogy, curriculum, and tried technology in a most efficient and effective way.

Reflect, Revise, & Reunite

Many know the lyrics to the song made famous by Diana Ross,

‘Do You Know
Where you’re going to?
Do you like the things?
That life is showing you
Where are you going to?
Do you know?’

How do we know how to address the learning needs of the 21st century learner if we don’t take the time to reflect upon what’s working? According to the Students at the Center project, “Student-centered approaches to learning respond to each student’s needs and interests, making use of new tools for doing so.” In reviewing the goals of the Students at the Center project, it is apparent that some reflection has taken place and goals have been set to address the following:

• Mind, Brain, and Education
• Motivation, Engagement, and Student Voice
• Teachers at Work – Six Exemplars of Everyday Practice
• Literacy Practices for African-American Male Adolescents
• Latino/a and Black Students and Mathematics
• Curricular Opportunities in the Digital Age
• Personalization in Schools
• Assessing Learning
• Changing School District Practices

The efforts of this program and so many others like them echo the words penned by Deborah Meier, “There’s a radical – and wonderful – new idea here…that all children could and should be inventors of their own theories, critics of other people’s ideas, analyzers of evidence, and makers of their own personal arks on the world.” Learning attainment based on engagement will mean a shift from teacher-to-student discourse to student-to-student problem solving as facilitated by the teacher.

Education today must revise its effort to reach and teach each student and reunite the craft and joy of teaching with student learning. Are you up for this rewarding challenge?