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Tech Tip: How to make students want to learn

A three-step plan to help foster a desire for learning, from educator and ISTE Ignite presenter Kerry Gallagher.

2 min read




How can we inspire students to pursue knowledge instead of being passive recipients of information? How do we foster in them a desire to learn? Digital learning specialist Kerry Gallagher of St. John’s Preparatory School offered a three-point roadmap during the opening keynote session of ISTE 2016 in Denver. Gallagher was one of this year’s ISTE Ignite session presenters.

Start with an inspiring question. The question will define the destination, Gallagher said. She offered examples such as “Are gender roles important?” and “Do we need government? Is it better to revolt or reform?” The question should “inspire them to want to embark on the journey,” Gallagher said.

Get the right supplies for the journey. Gallagher uses openly licensed educational resources–including podcasts, articles, videos and simulations—from all over the world with her students. These materials have opened the doors for students to meet and work with experts from around the globe, she explained. “This method of learning really helped them make connections they had not made before,” said Gallagher.

Embark on the lesson—and give them room to find their own way. The lesson should just be a suggested route, said Gallagher. If students want to go off course a bit and explore, let them, she advised. They may want to use an app, program or device that you don’t know. Have them explain what they want to make and what they expect the tool to do for them. What’s important is not the tool but that “everybody is moving toward the learning goal,” Gallagher said.

This teaching method has generated new enthusiasm for learning and collaboration in Gallagher’s classroom. “When I started teaching this way and my students started learning together this way, we really learned more about one another and became a community,” she explained. “It became a lot more about us and not really the grades anymore.”


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