I've been delivering a student survey to a really great group of students (for survey purposes... I mean, I'm sure they're great, they go to Moore Norman Technology Center - but I mean for survey purposes). They come from various urban and rural settings ("various" is a strong word - but several different high schools) with separate social climates and backgrounds and age groups.
It's been eye-opening... And I love it.
The survey is on social media, and measures how our students here are using social media. It is not only proving to be a hot topic for me to start a conversation with students about their personal accounts, but it's been really fun to hear their reactions to the survey itself.
They've enjoyed it. The questions were, and I quote here, "fun".
I'd like to take a moment to key on a couple of unexpected stats and connections so far:
Among high school students, more than half have a blog. Their choices for how they use their blog were "Personal Journal", "Open Journal of Thoughts", "Hobby", "Critical Analysis", "No Blog", and "Other". 66% responded "Other". Keep this stat in mind.
64% of the high school and college age students post videos for various reasons such as "Social", "Journaling", "Fun Videos", "Reactions", and "Other". Some of these could be the same thing, but they are allowed to click on more than one. 10% responded to "Reactions". 25% was for "Fun Videos". 33% was for "Other".
So what's the "OTHER" category anyway?
Judging from their responses in the "Other" box where they could be more detailed, I would actually classify the majority of these students would have answers that fall in as "Critical Analysis" and "Reactions".
You read it. That's right. C-R-I-T-C-A-L......A-N-A-L-Y-S-I-S.
They are reacting to things, movies, social events, people, historical events, news, politics, school, family... and expressing themselves in the most articulate way they have the capacity to do so. They are reacting to events with an eye that has been developed by the world around them, and then EXPRESSING.
EARTH to TEACHERS... our students are, in fact, engaged. This has wowed me. Especially when I thought about what "Reaction Videos" are. (A fairly new "hit" on youtube where you video yourself in real time as you watch and react to something you watch).
The question is: How do we harness their critical analysis skills? How do you shape the articulation of their eye? Where do you want to focus it?
Ask yourself: "What tools of expression are they passionate about using?" and then will you see more passion go in to homework if you simply change the tool?
Yes, when students were able to start using pencils on paper instead of chalk on miniature chalkboards, were there not more essays written? When you were finally given the choice in school to use a pen over a pencil, didn't you take the one that actually moves across the paper with less friction? If you have great typing skills, are you more likely to write more in depth on a computer than with a pen and paper? YES.
Change your tools. Unleash your students.
I am going to think of some ideas on how specifically to do this... so stay tuned.