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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Feedback: Distractions 2.0

Kids have always been bored in class; technology is just the latest diversion.
Credit: Edutopia

Bravo, Marc Prensky ("Young Minds, Fast Times: The Twenty-First-Century Digital Learner," June/July 2008), for insisting on bringing student voices into the conversation about education. So many proffered solutions to the problems of education ignore the fundamental truth that learning requires student assent. Top-down, coercive solutions may encourage conformity, but they will not improve schools, or students' experiences in them.

Andy Hoffman
Boston, Massachusetts

"Young Minds, Fast Times: The Twenty-First-Century Digital Learner" was excellent! As a new administrator, I am looking for articles to stimulate such collaborative discussions. This will be the first one I use in informal morning chats with my staff. I love the quote about teachers continuing to use lectures and worksheets as "justification for the failure of those teachers to change how they teach." I have been saying this for years. Thanks for this great offering.

Judy Munsey
via online forum

Distractions 2.0

Yes, students are bored. Yes, they have always been bored. No, it's not different. There have always been distractions; today it's called "technology." In my day, it was called "dinosaur attacking the village." Part of school's mandate is to teach students skills that they don't already have, such as focus and self-discipline.

And, yes, we old folk do try to engage students. I teach chemistry. We do labs and demos and work with models. Low tech stuff, admittedly. I'm open to suggestion. Every year, we evaluate our program and try new things. Rather than castigate us old folk, lead by example; give us some ideas that work.

Tim Ridgway
via online forum

Wii Bit of Excitement

I was excited when I picked up the June/July 2008 edition of Edutopia and read Laila Weir's "Wii Love Learning: Using Gaming Technology to Engage Students." Ecstasy! I'm almost positive my heart skipped a beat.

As both an educator and researcher, I've been living and breathing the educational use of video games for some time now. Just a week prior to reading this article, I had completed a study for my doctorate on the use of the Nintendo Wii with a group of third- and fourth-grade classrooms.

Weir's article sparked a fire within me. My research, like the cited statistics, suggests that teachers are interested in using games in the classroom but that they are hesitant to do so without guidance. As a remedy, I developed a curriculum to work with the MySims Wii game as an aid in reviewing geometry concepts.

Dawn Hawkins
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

All the Right Moves

On behalf of physical education teachers around the country, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) would like to thank The George Lucas Educational Foundation for shining light on today's physical education programs ("All the Right Moves: Fresh Methods to Keep Kids Active," June/July 2008). You did an excellent job of capturing the development of knowledge, skills, and teamwork taking place in today's physical education class. The NASPE has tremendous resource materials.

Paula Keyes Kun
Reston, Virginia

Good in Class

I've taught special education and general education K-12. I have a doctorate in curriculum and instruction and am a part-time adjunct professor at three Oregon universities.

Your e-newsletter is exceptional! I use it in all my classes. I recently received an email from a former student who thanked me for sharing the Edutopia.org Web site with her class. It's a great blend of cutting-edge multimedia and text-based resources. I teach a research class, and a group researching effective sex-education practices was intrigued with the Midwest Teen Sex Show ("Serious Fun: A New Twist on a Touchy Subject -- Sex," April/May 2008).

Doug Herman
Eugene, Oregon

Strong voices

I enjoyed reading the most recent issue of Edutopia (June/July 2008), especially the views reflected by the quoted students. I hope each teacher, each staff member, and each student in our country feels he or she has a strong voice in shaping education.

As we cannot forget to teach our students, we must also find ways to help teachers learn as well by allowing and supporting staff members to take risks with technology.

However, the power of a great teacher does not rest solely on technology. A great teacher will find multiple areas of student interests to tap!

Kris Maleske
Mattoon, Illinois

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