Information literacy and conflicting impressions

August 22, 2006 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

Fifth grade orientation:

Computer technology comments

  • There are computers in the classroom, maybe three.  They are ancient Macs. 
  • Teachers have a PC on their desktop, Windows based.
  • Throughout the orientation, little mention of computers, technology or the Web
  • …except for the Social Studies teach who hands out a printed hardcopy list of websites to visit on topics the class will discuss.  The implication is that this is for use at home, not school.
  • Three out of four teachers insist that the only-and-best way to get hold of them is via email not voice mail.  The fourth teach insists on voice.
  • When I was a student, you never had a teacher’s phone number, but now email addresses are publically available.  And it’s interesting that students aren’t instructed on the use of email.  Does this suggest a case of ‘security through obscurity’ kind of thing?  If we don’t teach the kids how to use email they’ll never use email to send nasty notes….or to ask for help.

We sure seem to be on the cusp of the digital classroom, but it continues to elude us, giving us links on paper, and email addresses without email.

 Teaching style comments:

  • All four teachers made a point about how fun and engaging their classroom activites would be: dressing up like indians and pilgrims, singing songs, having ‘pi’ day in math where everyone brings in pies to learn about fractions, having mexican food during the “Wild West” unit.

On one hand, I am concerned that traditional classroom approaches lack instruction in what are becoming, or have become, critical life skills, like using word processors, the web, search skills, and email, etc. 

But on the other hand, new methods of instruction seems to eschew the old-style, read the book, memorize the dates, take the test style I remember.  Instead, it seems like teachers are trying to make the classroom as interactive, and engaging, and as much like an immersive experience as possible.  This, to appeal to the digital generation?  For kids that have grown up being able to mold their own reality in-game?

So I am conflicted.  Information literacy is being overlooked, and teaching styles that require you to learn through reading and note-taking and self-study are being abandoned.  I want the new, but don’t want to lose the old….

In latter grades, I’m assured kids will learn how to learn in this more traditional style, and information technology will be more fully introduced and encouraged…but why wait?  What are we waiting for?

And are new styles of instruction better and I’m just more old-fashioned than I realize?  Is learning through experience better and more relevant than learning from a book?  Can this immersive and engaging style of study scale?  How will kids be affected by these styles of teaching when they are sitting in a classroom of 1000 people and expected to read the book?

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Entry filed under: feed my pet brain, information literacy.

Even more social information Libraries for a New Generation

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