Going Native

By Liftig, Inez | Science Scope, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Going Native


Liftig, Inez, Science Scope


Today's middle school students are often referred to as "digital natives" because they have grown up with digital technology and it is an important and natural part of their lives. Most spend hours each day on their cell phones or computers watching videos, listening to music, texting, playing interactive games, or using social networks. To fully engage these digital natives, teachers need to regularly incorporate technology into their classroom instruction, because instruction without the use of such technology will seem out of step with the digital cocoon students' have created for themselves as well as the "real world" that awaits them outside the classroom walls.

Technology, however, should be used only to support best instructional practices, not replace them. It should enhance our lessons, not become the lessons. Do not expect it to reduce teacher planning time; it may even increase it. Proper pedagogical structures and effective learning strategies must still be in place for students to learn and understand content and concepts. Planning effective, focused lessons using technology may require, for example, extra time to familiarize yourself with a new technology, understand all the aspects of an online site, and determine how a new e-resource best fits into your curriculum.

Of course, all teachers should have basic word-processing and spreadsheet skills and be proficient in the use of presentation equipment and the Internet; but from my experience, teachers need not be experts with every technology or application they are using, because students are often more knowledgeable about their operation and capabilities and will eagerly serve as our personal IT team--if we are not afraid to call on them for assistance. …

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