Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Hey Teachers: This is How I Learn.

My students and I had a conversation today about learning. They'd like to share their thoughts with you. [I've put some of the most interesting comments in bold].

"Teachers would help me learn better if they applied what we were learning to events outside of school. Also, if they stuck with us in the lessons step by step to make sure we understood them, that would help me learn better. It would be useful if teachers in lectures would also relate subjects in lectures to things students do at home or for hobbies."

"Teachers would help me learn better if they judged better the time it takes to complete assignments; with in a reasonable amount of time. They would help me learn better if they gave more class work grades then homework grades. They would help me learn better if they made note taking more interesting and entertaining then boring PowerPoints. Also group projects are always more desirable than projects in which you must work independently. Lectures, especially boring ones can be a problem in the classroom. Lectures in themselves aren't the problem usually it is the teacher giving them. Teachers need to find ways to appear entertaining, or interesting to their students if they wish to grasp their full attention."

"If teachers were more interactive in lessons, then more kids would pay attention. I find my self playing games on the computer because I don't want to listen to a boring lecture. But if the teacher made the lesson plan fun and interactive, then most likely all of the kids would pay attention. People don't pay attention in class because of one reason: boredom. So if the teachers could find ways to make lesson plans interactive, the issue of boredom would go down."

"Teachers would help me learn better if they interacted with the students more. A lot of teachers just like to do lectures and it ends up boring the class. If the teacher made the lesson more interactive, then the students would be able to grasp the concept of the lesson better. Lectures only make things boring and you don't grasp what's going on in that class. You just take notes and have to study them. But with an interactive lesson plan, you are able to grasp things right away and won't have to study as much because you really understood the lesson the day that you learned it."

"Teachers would help me learn better if they taught with hands on projects. I learn through projects because you can see exactly what you're learning about. For example, in this class we've created the Roman armor. We had to read about the different parts and then figure out all of their details in order to make them. In biology, we build parts of the body, for example cells. It's interactive and keeps the brain active. I tend to find myself losing focus if just reading a text book."

"Teachers would help me learn better if they taught in class instead of giving homework, used more videos to teach certain aspects of the lesson, had more group work, and used computers to help organize notes, help keep neat notes, help not lose notes."

"I find it easier to learn from interacting with the class than sitting in a class room and studying a certain subject. If the class is just sitting and doing busy work, then it is more likely that some people, including me, will get distracted and go on different websites."

"Computers = Awesome"

"Computers are the future. They provide a portal to a whole other world, and infinite possibilities. A computer can be used to look up a famous person who you have never heard, or to look up statistics, or even just to use a calculator to crunch 289*3466, doubt you can do that in your head. With a computer everything including organizing becomes easier. Organizing especially is personally one of my biggest downfalls, before I came here and got my school laptop, I was one of the most unorganized people you would ever meet, now with a laptop, it is a lot easier to organize my notes."

"Teachers would help me learn better if they would do something more interactive in class. They would also help if they would bring something entertaining to keep my attention. Teachers need to not talk at the students, but to the students.  Teachers also shouldn't just force students to take notes as the entire class. Teachers need to actually teach the subject material, not just give random pointless assignments in class to keep students busy. Teacher shouldn't have things show up on the test that they didn't teach. Teachers shouldn't teach superfluous things that won't show up on tests, as they detract from learning the important material. Teachers would help student better if they would stop for a second to make sure each individual understands the material. Teachers should repeat important topics. Also, hands on is good, as hands on is fun and interactive. Teachers also need to be approachable for extra help."

"I use tech a lot more in this class than in most of my other classes. I think that it is wayyyyyy more efficient in this class, it is very helpful."

"I use the computer more in this class than any other class. but it's very helpful. I'm able to look things up instantly and helps me understand more."

"I use my computer everyday in this class, probably twice as much in this class than in any other class. In some classes I hardly ever use it."

"I find the computer to be more of a helpful resource in this class than in any other class."

"Teachers would help me learn better if they were more hands on with their learning. It is very hard for me to learn when a teacher just rattles of information off a power point that I can access later. If I can access it at home and study at home then why do I need to pay attention in class? I don't, and so when teachers don't give me anything to work with besides a power point on my laptop and on a projector I will often get bored in class and not pay attention or fall asleep. Things like worksheets, activities, and class readings are what hold students attention. And without their attention you can't teach them a thing. For a teacher to hold my attention they need to present me with something I haven't seen before or at least in a way that holds my interest."

"I try to use my computer every opportunity I get in all of my other classes. I find it incredibly useful and helpful for me to take quicker and more organized notes and also to research things that a teacher has said that I don't understand."

"Compared to other classes, I use computers the most here. It seems like most other teachers don’t really trust teenagers with having laptops during class. I think they can overcome this barrier by talking to students as their friends instead of talking down to them."

"Computers definitely help with this Latin class because there is a wider range of material to learn from and you can use programs that parse verbs which helps you to understand how those verbs will be translated. Also, it allows for students to collaborate without being distracted."

"Latin revolves around the laptops. I think it's impossible to go through the course without one. We need it for Caesar's Gallic Wars and to take notes. You wouldn't be able to do the course without it. All of our assignments are done through a blog which is really convenient because you can get onto the internet anywhere. With paper, you may have to remember to have several things with you."

And of course one student decided to play Devil's Advocate (but I think he's got a great point that we need to address issues of distraction and focus from the very beginning of tech integration):

"Teachers would help me learn better if they... removed computers from the classroom. Computers are too much of a distraction, and it is difficult to focus when there is a plethora of other activities that can be done on the computer, from games to messaging services to websites."

I like to listen to my students. They know themselves pretty well. And they help me know them and they help me know how to teach them and they help me understand how to learn better together with them. 

And in the end, that's what it's all about.


  1. Awesome. It's great to hear this directly from the students. I also think it's incredibly valuable to get them thinking about HOW they learn. We don't spend enough time on this with students but it's an important part of lifelong learning.

  2. I'm curious, what were the opinions from those students not sold on the tech? As a person who teaches with tech, the other side of the discussion would be just as valuable.

  3. @Antoine

    There was one student in class who gave an anti-tech opinion. I highlighted it at the end. You are right, it is important to hear that opinion; it's also important to see what a minority opinion it is in a class where kids have been using social tech 1:1 for two years.


  4. Every since I was a little boy my father always urged me to make the teacher "check their data". Just like you need to challenge websites for the legitimacy of their data so too must the students challenge the legitimacy of the the teacher's ideas if there is to be real critical thinking going on in a classroom. Computers make that challenge much easier and effective. My students often correct my facts which makes our intepretations much richer and collaborative. It really does not make any difference that the American Revolution happened in 1776 and the French Revolution occured in 1789. What matters is that the American Revolution happened BEFORE the French Revolution!! The important question is was the American a revolution, and could the French have happened with it? That is interesting!!

    One idea that appeared over and over again in the above is that the ideas in a class are the material to be learned. That is something we need to get over, with or without computers. There is nothing material about ideas. The Roman Empire only exists when at least two people (teacher and student?) think about it. Thoughts are not material!! We do not cover material in class, we share ideas!!

  5. I, too love hearing from my students & your students were absolutely clear! I only wish that the "powers to be" would take them more seriously & give them what they want, expect, & need.

  6. Addressing that last student's comment: computers are a can we solve this insight? I would think that either the student a) isn't all that quick to adapt to the computer's fast module, or b) that things are thrown at him/her in a quick pace that overloads the student's needs to process assignment(s). Any other insights??

  7. very cool... thanks for posting/sharing...

    answers like above is what got us to thinking in terms of an innovation lab (because everyone is different) - where students create their own courses and become tech interns. we're having weekly meetings this summer for students and teachers... just to get in gear.

    we just posted this.. thought you might like it.

  8. Am surprised by the child who didn't want computers in the classroom, but I can see the distraction point.
    Many schools use our online courses because kids enjoy them and don't get bored. This just confirms that kids like learning from computers and it's up to us educators to find the best way to utilize this.
    Thanks for the great post!

  9. That is great that every one of your students has their own laptop! I wish my school system would do the same.

  10. As an Edu-Tech company, our main focus is to engage hard-to-reach learners. Our digital content is easy to use and integrate into the classroom. Posts like this let me know that products like ours make a real impact on teachers and students. Great post.

  11. Thank you for this. I am curious about the age (grade) of these students?

  12. @LadyGBD

    These are comments from Sophomores.


  13. Very powerful insights from the "kids"! I teach early childhood and our whole day is nothing but "hands on" and "interactive learning" It is sad that upper grades turn more to lecturing which turns the kids off. The kids are telling us how they would learn better. We need to listen!

  14. teachers need to exert extra effort for their students... you became a student before so you should know how bored or uninterested they may feel...

  15. Hi! You have great article on your blog. It's good to hear about learning interaction in school directly from a student's point of view.

  16. A guide for parents concerning what college or university is like for students. It's a good idea knowing people are getting educated.


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