Prensky: ‘Engage Me or Enrage Me’

I attended an interesting keynote luncheon at NECC this afternoon by Marc Prensky, author of Digital Game-Based LearningIn the session, Prensky made some interesting points about how today’s kids learn. As ‘digital natives’ – today’s kids have never really known life without computers and live with constant sensory stimulation through iPods, cell phones, remotes, video games, instant messenger, etc. He suggested that, unlike previously generations, kids today demand to be constantly engaged and the onus is on teachers to ensure this happens.

Prensky’s speech made me think about my teaching habits when I was in the classroom – I wonder if I was as cognizant as I should have been of how student’s learning styles have changed, or if I too often assumed that ‘kids are kids’ and the way they think now is the same way I thought when I was their age.

When you are planning a lesson, do you consciously think about the fact that how students learn today differs from how you learned when you were growing up or how you learn now? If so – what kinds of changes have you made to your lessons to meet their needs?


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  1. Rachel said:

    Funny this topic should come up today! The training that I’m attending this week is for a new math program that my county has selected to use for our lowest performing students. One of the major focuses of the program is to make math fun…. so there are lots and lots of games included in the curriculum (not to mention ALL of the materials needed for each and every game).

    I have always used games in my classroom and truly believe in the power of engaging kids with these and other active learning strategies. But I will also be the first to admit that it is very time consumming to teach this way and that it takes a certain comfort level of letting the kids have control.

    However, the rewards are unbelievable. The kids take ownership of their own learning– they want to know what to do to be successful so they win! Even better than that, they become peer tutors and help correct other students. They will monitor the other students as they work and correct them if they are wrong.

    I agree wholeheartedly that we must engage them or enrage them.

  2. Valerie said:

    In an educational technology course in grad school, a professor used to talk about “scientific knowledge” vs. “common knowledge.” At one point, cars, telephones, etc. were all scientific knowledge – the way computers are to many adults today – while being common knowledge to kids. This shift of scientific knowledge becoming common knowledge has happened throughout history and teaching has evolved to accommodate the shift. For example, who uses an abacus anymore? I’m sure unconsciously we are all adjusting our teaching to some degree. Consciously incorporating ideas like games, puzzles, group activities, and the use of technology in the classroom is a great next step.

  3. Katie said:

    I know exactly what you mean! I began teaching 25 years ago, taught for 5 years, then stayed home to care for my own children for 16 years. When I came back to the classroom I found a computer in my room and felt limitless in all I could do! What I found out about the students was how much they enjoy when teachers try to add the new element of the Internet. The students have taught me about half of what I know about computers! I love to use United Streaming as a “window to the world”…we can actually go places and see things I could never have “gone or seen” 25 years ago. By adding micro media to the classroom, the students do get information in a way that they are comfortable with. Sometimes our Internet connection is down or my virtual field trip is working at a slower connection speed, but it is worth it..and the students know and appreciate that I’m trying to do this for them!

  4. Rita Fennelly said:

    United Streaming was the best thing I utilized this year in my classroom, too. Since I teach science, I love that I can show students these amazing demos or over-the-top examples that I could simply never do in the classroom. The video clips are a wonderful way to reiterate information without the teacher having to do all the talking. It’s nice to be able to constantly change up the pace and keep students on their toes. Multi-media learning really takes multiple intelligences and differentiated instruction to the next level.

  5. Christopher Bugaj said:

    My role in the school system is as an Assistive Technology Trainer. I travel to different schools in my county to assist special education teachers with different technologies. In my travels I have found that when a new technology is being introduced to a classroom it is best to show the students along with the teacher. Many times students will explore and experiment with technology because they are less afraid of making a mistake. As mentioned by Katie, the students end up teaching the teacher!

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