Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Teachable Moments- EdTech Talk

Listening to the EdTech Talk discussion on teachable moments, it was very interesting hearing teachers bounce ideas and lessons off of one another and explaining in depth their lesson plans. Lisa saw an idea on twitter about using the anniversary of the earthquakes in Haiti as a teachable moment and she and Sheila mentioned how a lot of climate change issues bring up a lot of teachable moments- flooding in Brisbane, mudslides in Brazil, all of the major storms lately that present incredible teachable moments- why are these happening? How often do things like this happen? What can cause these storms? Using current events or anniversaries of important events to allow students to research, ask questions, discuss and stay informed about relevant issues is so important.

What becomes challenging about taking advantage of teachable moments it, as Sheila and Lisa said, that they're not necessarily things that fit into curriculum but they are things that are still so important to discuss. Students realize that horrific events happen and teachable moments are about discussing human nature and exploring compassion. With the recent shootings in Arizona, being able to get correct information and have a safe environment in which to discuss, ask questions, etc. is so vital in making kids feel informed, safe, knowledgeable and again, compassionate. I follow the Dalai Lama on my personal twitter account and almost daily the tweets are about compassion. In my opinion, instilling a sense of compassion in students would solve so many problems like bullying, class/country/religious/political segregation, and general taunting that goes on in schools. What better ways to explore compassion than by trying to understand other humans better whether fellow classmates, or by skyping to a classroom abroad, or by using current events as ways to see both sides of a story.

At the same time, they discuss how as a teacher, when you know what is going on in the world and the sadness that can exist, how much is appropriate to share with students? Students often hear of things anyway, so why not use teachable moments to answer their questions and talk to them about real issues that exist and are important? It is also hard having to deal with parents- kids want to know more but sometimes parents want to shelter their kids to an extent or have the opportunity to tell their kids what they think.

They also brought up a great question that I was thinking about- "Do you think more teachable moments happen with more experienced teachers because they feel more comfortable with their class and know they can get through the content and won't feel like they are being judged and know that they can handle parent feedback?" Both ladies definitely agreed with this- I cannot imagine my first year in the classroom branching off and having a discussion about shootings or something so difficult to tackle. It is risky and scary, you don't know how the students will react or how the parents will react. That being said, it is important to explore things that are not necessarily involved in your curriculum for the day- lots of important things happen!

Technology was discussed in regards to how much it has enhanced teachable moments- it is a great way for students to access information, find out about current events, and to research and navigate information to draw conclusions. I really liked listening to this- it was interesting to hear stories of what happened in other peoples' classrooms, they way they handle situations, how to address student concerns. I think that EdTech Talk is a great way to bounce ideas off of other teachers that may have completely different students, resources, etc. at their hands enhancing what you can bring into your classrooms and the ideas that you have.

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