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For more than a grade

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Education

My thoughts around this post started with this retweet.

Consumption vs. Contribution RT @baldy7: Digital Immigrants Unite! goo.gl/FMBQI lovely piece by @plugusin. #edchat

— Kyle Pace (@kylepace) January 20, 2013

While that entire post from Bill was great (all of Bill’s posts are, and if you don’t follow his blog you should), it was probably this bit towards the end that led me to add my two cents at the beginning of that retweet:

It’s OUR job to help kids to realize how to leverage technology for something more than keeping themselves entertained.

Yes of course I want students (including my own two children) to realize technology’s potential for their lives beyond the entertainment value. For some time now I have said that students are much better at consuming via technology than creating via technology. We want the output to equal or exceed the input, yes? But is it enough to have our students creating with technology just for a grade? Is that where we want their creativity to stop? A one-and-done project that they never give a glance to again?

Our students have the affordance to not only create, but also to contribute. Is it enough for students to create a presentation or to post to a blog or produce a video? What about having students make things (technology related or not) that contribute to the betterment of another human being? To their fellow students, or their community, or even the world? It’s happened before. Not that it’s always purposeful, but just think how things might not have changed had Martha not published her writing for a global audience. Or if a filmmaker named Nirvan hadn’t decided to introduce the world to Caine.

Not only does this make for a more challenging learning experience for our students, but also makes for a more challenging teaching experience for teachers too. It means we have to look beyond having students make something for a grade. We have to look beyond the test. We have to change how we teach. Helping students become positive contributors, through whatever the medium, can give our students (and teachers) a much richer learning experience and much richer life experiences that will carry into future grade levels, schools, communities, relationships, workplaces, etc.

While the following quote has been used many times in education circles, I feel it an appropriate reminder to all of us:

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. — Mahatma Ghandi

There are so many places in our world we want to see change. Educators have the power to properly equip those who can. Shouldn’t we start with the people who will be taking us into the future?

Kyle Pace (@kylepace) is an instructional technology specialist for the Lee’s Summit School District just outside Kansas City, Mo. He’s committed to helping teachers learn tools and strategies that will engage today’s students, differentiate instruction and promote creativity and critical thinking. Pace is also a Google Certified Teacher. Check out his blog.