Laptops and Introductory Lessons

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Recently, I wrote on the Multiple Pathways Blog about my reactions to Apple’s textbook announcements and to textbooks in general.

In the process of writing and reflecting, I realized that in Maine we a very different way to introduce a new topic.

Imagine an introductory lesson focused on building a student’s background knowledge. Instead of having students read a chapter on the causes of the Civil War (for example) and then discussing what they read (which, by the way, every single child not only read the exact same description of the causes, but they all have been exposed to only one take on those causes – the textbook’s), have students open their laptops and ask them, “what were the causes of the Civil War?” 

Students could search and share what they found. You could ask, “Did anyone find anything different?” You could even compare sources or discuss approaches to surfing and searching. You could have them find perspectives that would reflect substantially different points of view. You could explore and discuss different kinds of sources and the apparent relative value.

Well, maybe not the first time you do this with students, but certainly the more times you do, the more you model for them, and the more they reflect on the process, the more your “introductory” lessons could look like this. 

And think about the “learning” skills and digital citizenship skills your students would develop!

It’s Your Turn:

How do you leverage technology to reach students in new ways?

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