Are You "Lost in Translation"?

Cross-posted on Changing Connections, where you can view the slide show directly.

The Discovery Educator Network launched its history-making Virtual Conference on Saturday, 2 February 2008 and it proved, as DEN always does, to delight and engage audiences across the nation. What made it ground-breaking? The DEN harnessed webinar technology to face-to-face interactions at host sites throughout the country, experiencing the virtual world uniquely: a national conference hosted locally!

Our East Coast Keynote, Lance Rougeux, opened the virtual conference with a session EVERY teacher should hear: Lost in Translation. His thesis is simple: Every student speaks a second language, and Everyone must become a second-language learner. So, can you read this? Quickly? If not, then you are not proficient in ESL. What is ESL? Emoticons as a Second Language.

Still lost in translation? Here’s your answer on the left. I’d be willing to venture that any eight-year-old (or maybe younger) would have read the ESL slide in 20 seconds or under. Why? Because it’s their language. It’s what they use to communicate, and they are highly proficient at it. Like some of you, I am lost in translation (although I do remember Milli Vanilli, Lance). So I can read Lauren Myracle books every day (Lance says he does; bless you, Martha) written in emoticon, or use transl8it!, or both.

I’ve been working with a student to create our School Profile for AFG, and he speaks yet a third language: code. (At this layer, I am really lost in translation.) He writes code faster than I can type, but he IS a digital native. And he’s typical of many of the students in our classrooms. So, how do they learn? Very much like Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind suggests: through the 3 Cs: communication, connectedness, and creativity.

Our students are consumers and creators. They write and speak digital; it’s how they like to learn if we let them. While we were engaged in the virtual conference, an interesting side bar chat ensued about how education has shifted from the “sage on the stage” to the “guide on the side” (a wealth of resources appears in any DEN sidebar, so you do want to check it out in the archives). Repurposing the educator’s role is what I call Educating in the Shift. We are all at different levels, but for many of us, we are behind our students’ collective knowledge base. Do we know less? Absolutely not! They just know more–differently.

And they LEARN DIFFERENTLY! They are consumers and creators. Here are their tools. Are we using them too? If not, do we need to catch up to teaching how students learn, as the inimitable Hall Davidson said two years ago at PETE&C, with the things in their pockets. And I can’t think of any better way to engage not enrage students than by beginning anywhere with the resources that the Discovery Educator Network offers, starting with Lance’s presentation and continuing throughout the virtual conference.

According to Lance, and I do agree with him, we need to do something else too. We need to master that second language too, at least metaphorically speaking. We may not go out and learn text messaging or code for that matter, but we do need to rethink how we collaborate academically with our digital natives, bell to bell, as Jennifer Dorman said in the chat room yesterday.

So, how do we meet the needs of our ESL students? Start with any Discovery product or resource. My favorites: DiscoveryStreaming and Kathy Schrock. Or find a content-specific Discovery resources like Discovery Education Science (middle school target audience) or Discovery Education Health. Unveiled at the Virtual Conference: Discovery Education Science (elementary school version).

In the spirit of yesterday’s virtual conference and collaborative learning, I made a slightly bigger footprint, although marginal compared to Jen’s. You can see screen shots (individually or as a set) from Lance’s opening Keynote at my new flickr account. You can also view my presentation slide show at my new SlideShare account.

Super Bowl Sunday is only hours away, so I’ll end with a Mickey story. Yesterday, in the middle of Matt’s presentation, my husband walked into the kitchen with a post-it note on his forehead. It read, in big black marker letters, COMPUTER. On the plus side, it was a Discovery Educator Network round post-it from last year’s PETE&C. I got the message, and will have to, like some of you, view the rest of the day’s virtual conference from the archives. Enjoy the game!

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