How can technology help engage students to learn content?
As educators, we know that engaging ESL students is key to academic and linguistic success. We are faced with the daily task of teaching grade level content in a language that poses many challenges.
Dr. Michael Nagler, Superintendent of Mineola Schools, presented a workshop entitled, What Are 21st-Century Skills Anyway? Though, the workshop was not limited to the needs of ELLs, there were many points that Dr. Nagler shared that highlighted the challenges for all learners.
Dr. Nagler stated that, “technology is the tool of engagement and we must stop teaching content and start engaging students in the content.” During this discussion, he described that the order of Bloom’s Taxonomy was now reversed. With information being readily available, students must learn metacognition – “think about thinking and how they are learning.”
Today’s student is growing up in a world much different than ours. Educators continue to use traditional teacher-centered methods of instruction; this is a fundamental contradiction to the way our students learn. For many of these students, even the pace of technological advances will even make digital natives into digital immigrants. What is certain is that 21st century skills remove boundaries and promote academic success for ELLs and for all students.
So how do we change the way we teach content and how do we use technology to leverage it? Give students the ability to become problem solvers and critical thinkers. Don’t give the content, but start with the end first through methods such as project-based learning. Technology must be used as the tool that provides a means to the end.