Can you imagine living in a world without the telephone? Wouldn’t you feel isolated and cut off from the rest of the world? We need to know that we have the ability to communicate with others, not only those in the same room as us, but also those well beyond our walls. Why do we need to communicate with others? Is it to gather information? Share information? Collaborate? The simple answer: yes.
Students share this need to communicate with others. They communicate with their families, their peers, and their friends. They speak, they listen, they negotiate. Yet our students are also living in a fast-paced world of electronics and technological devices. They are processing more information at a faster rate than was once imaginable. As teachers, we need to adapt to the changing world in which we all live. It is not enough to teach our students to read, write, listen, and speak. They need to know how to read and write for authentic purposes. We need to teach them how to become digitally literate, socially literate, media literate, and critically literate. They need to connect with the world and question the information they encounter; they need to analyze, evaluate, and think for themselves. They need to interact with others in real, authentic, engaging ways.
We want students to know where to find the information and what to do with it once they access it. What we need to be assessing in our students is not the recall of the information, but the application of it. Consider this mindshift: from knowing the information, to knowing what to do with the information. Our kids live in the information age. Information is cheap—knowledge is power. This is a fundamental change in our approach to assessing student learning.
As you search for activities to do with your students, try this simple math task that will bring you all together.