Teaching in the 21st century means that your students belong to the digital generation. These students learn in different ways and this lesson will help you teach and understand them better.
The Digital Generation
Screens, information, and speed. These three words define how students in the 21st century are used to interacting with the world. These students, sometimes referred to as the digital generation are students who are growing up constantly connected to the world around them through smartphones, tablets, and computers. Because of this hyperconnectivity, your students will learn differently than you did. It’s important that you understand how they learn and interact with the world in order to teach more effectively.This lesson will help you understand the digital generation and how your teaching should change and adapt to their needs.
Members of the digital generation thrive on creative and engaging activities, varied sources of information, and a more energetic environment.
Imagine coming from a place where you constantly have something enjoyable to do and having to enter a classroom where you are expected to sit still and engage in boring, monotonous schoolwork. Members of the digital generation have been exposed to almost constant stimulation from televisions, smartphones, tablets, and computers. Your teaching must aim to match that constant stimulation, or else you run the risk of losing student interest and engagement.Though this may seem a momentous task, engaging your students only requires some creative lesson planning and exciting activities. If your lessons are full of interesting activities that require different skills and thought processes, your students might not miss their various screens throughout the school day.Designing lessons that fully engage your students does not have to be an impossible task.
As long as your lessons involve a lot of student-driven learning, you will attain some level of engagement. The digital generation is not going to learn by sitting at their desks listening to lectures. They must be involved in every stage of learning in order to be fully engaged.
Varied Sources of Information
Every screen at which a student stares throughout the day is a source of information. This information may not always be useful (such as a funny online video or game), but it is a source of information, nonetheless.
Because of this, students from the digital generation are prone to thinking that learning from a textbook is incredibly boring.Students today expect to learn from a variety of different places. This can include books, computers, tablets, smartphones, or many other sources. To teach them, you should strive to include many of these sources in your classroom.
For example, instead of having students read about the Revolutionary War from a textbook, they could instead watch a video about the war on the classroom computer. Instead of writing their spelling words five times in a row to practice, they could instead play a spelling game on a tablet.Your students will benefit greatly from these varied sources of information and learning. Not only will the enjoy learning more, they will be learning from sources with which they are already familiar, sources they likely have at home. The classroom should not be a place for them to unplug, but could be another place where they are plugged in to truly educational information.
Being constantly plugged in from morning until night comes with it a certain frenetic energy that every member of the digital generation feels. These students are easily excitable and incredibly energetic. You can’t expect them to turn that energy off and learn in a more traditional way, though those ways were effective for students of generations gone by.While it is not unreasonable to expect some moments of calm throughout the day in your classroom, most of the day should be energetic and exciting in order to keep students interested in learning.
These students can benefit from a high-energy teacher who can match their own vitality. Your classroom environment should also effuse enthusiasm.One thing that works incredibly well to get students focused on working, especially during independent work times, is to play music quietly in the background. There are plenty of modern, upbeat instrumental music groups whose music is perfect for stimulating your students while they are trying to work.
This music will help your classroom become a more energetic environment, which will stimulate student thinking and work.
The digital generation makes up the group of students you are going to be teaching in your classroom. These are students that have been surrounded by electronics and connected to the world for their whole lives. They bring with them a different set of needs to the classroom that you must meet in order to teach effectively. By designed exciting and engaging lessons, providing them with varied sources of information, and creating a more energetic environment, you can help these students learn to the best of their ability.