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Can You Just Give Us the Information?

December 12, 2013

At the beginning of this school year, I made a conscious decision to change how I teach. I spent the spring and summer looking at Alberta Education’s Inspired Education documents and planned my year around them. My plan was to present problems to my students; have them make connections with experts, each other, digital information, and print information; create solutions to the problems, present these solutions and then reflect on the entire process. To me, this reflects the ideas put forth in Alberta Education’s Inspiring Education documents and Education Minister Jeff Johnson’s Ministerial Order on Teaching and Learning. For the past three months, I implemented my plan. I felt it was going very well. My students presented information that was well thought out. They made some very interesting connections outside of our classroom. Then, two days ago, one of my students came to me and said: “Mr Beaton, could you just give us the information? Maybe you could use more PowerPoints in your class.” I was quite taken back by this question and comment and thought I would reach out to my PLN.

School Killed Our Curiosity

At the beginning of the year, I asked my Grade 12 students why my three year old asks more questions than them. Their answers were varied but a few of my students said it was due to the fact that my son has not been in school. They suggested that school destroys curiosity. I responded by saying I hoped I would be able to reignite their curiosity and encourage them to ask lots of questions. But the comments from my student this week indicate that they don’t want to ask questions – at least not about the things we discuss.

I have tried very hard this year to create authentic learning experiences for my students and help make connections with them. After one student asked for more direct teaching, I asked a few others their thoughts. The answer was the same – they just want the information.

So, I am left to ponder why this is the case. As well, I am left wondering how to proceed. I fundamentally disagree with the notion of solely teaching with PowerPoint. As well, I do not want to provide the students with work sheets. But, this is what they have asked me for.

I Need Some Help!!

I am now at a point where I need some intervention. I truly believe our students need to participate in a process where they are presented with problems, make connections, solve problems, present their solutions and reflect upon the process. How does one do this when the students are not interested in doing this? Should I muscle through it and drag them along, knowing it is in their best interests? Am I right in my thinking or do I need to change my approach? Maybe I’ve gone too far too fast and need to pull back a bit.

I am very interested in your thoughts and ideas folks? I need some suggestions.

Thanks very much,

Sean

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2 Comments
  1. I face this same dilemma with my grade 10-12s and have gotten the same response. Partly I attribute it to teenaged apathy and laziness. Theyre used to sitting passively in front of power point so anything that requires active participation is out of their comfort zone. Sounds like they may have been a bit overwhelmed by the sudden change too. Maybe a slower process of phasing out power point and worksheets would be more effective. With my students, engagement in self-directed learning works best in short bursts a couple times a week. Sometimes their curiosity needs a good catalyst too, like a thought-provoking video, activity etc.

    • I agree with the notion they were shell shocked by the change. I think after winter break I will change it up and do a mixture of PBL and direct teaching.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

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