Building Bridges – Google it?

This week in EC&I 830 our first  debate was “Schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled“- agree or disagree. Both groups brought some valid points to the debate and gave the class a lot to think about. It got me thinking about the ways we learn in my classroom.

My prekindergarten class is not a place where we sit in our desks and memorize facts and recite our ABC’s on a daily basis. My students arrive and immediately begin using their creative thinking skills and start playing with the learning invitation set out on their tables. This often leads to discussions and questions among peers about what is taking place. The majority of our prekindergarten day is spent playing, experiencing, manipulating and representing the world around us. This often leads to great questions and discussions. All of these are great learning experiences…but I have been know to “GOOGLE it” the occasional time too!!! 😦

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27192495261_6d908950baAn example of where I would use google: My students are working on a bridge  project in the building centre and ask “What does a bridge look like”. I go to my computer and google bridges and have a variety of bridges within 15 seconds… We talk about what they see in the image and how they might be able to represent a bridge and we engage in open-ended conversation and questions as they build their bridge. There is learning occurring, but could there have been a more meaningful interaction? As Alec point’s out in his post, I thought I was helping teach something, but really I missed a great learning opportunities.

How could I have approached this experience in a different way? Before I ran to google the image, I first needed to engage in further conversation and dig a little deeper into their critical 27186057752_7109e24c42 and creative thinking skills. I could ask them “What do you think a bridge looks like?” or “Have you seen a bridge before?” I can then ask them to draw a bridge for me and ask them how they think they could build a bridge like that in the classroom. Once we’ve had a conversation and did some play around “What does a bridge look like”, we could then go to google and see what more information we can add to our knowledge of bridges. I could then use documentation to share the learning process and demonstrate the different bridges from before and after our research. 

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When used in this way I feel like Google can be used as a research tool in my classroom. I find that when we use google to search for images or videos about topics we are interested about, it doesn’t destroy our creative thinking, but adds more possibilities and questions. It helps to lead my students to further discovery(ONE TOOL). We are able to wonder about things from all over the world and experience them through resources we find on google. Terry Heick says in his article that googling is easier than thinking, but I find it can lead my students to challenge their thinking as they try to express their new found knowledge.

Student led learning is present in most early childhood classrooms and I have heard of many other grades finding success with this format of learning in their classrooms. I think that this type of learning relates well to what Ramsey Musallam spoke to in 3 rules to spark learning

Rule 1. Curiosity comes first-questions can be windows to great instruction

Rule 2: embrace the mess – trial and error

Rule 3: practice reflection – what we do needs our revision

I feel that google does not take curiosity away if used appropriately and used as a tool and not just a way to get the answer and nothing else. Isn’t there a place for google in inquiry, student lead classrooms when used in this way? I think so.

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There were some very interesting articles brought to the debate around brain development. I’m a huge advocate for play is how children learn.  The Saskatchewan Play and Exploration Guide lists many reasons for why play is the main contributor to how children learn.Where is memorization rank in the tool box for learning?

The article “When Rote Learning Makes Sense” by Ben Johnson said “Once they know how to learn, or memorize, then students can acquire knowledge about anything they want to learn, which is in direction opposition to what critics say about rote memorization”. I have seen this first hand with my on nieces and nephews. They struggled with Discovery Math and understanding concepts so their parents thought that they would enroll them in an after school math program. After being part of Kumon and memorizing math facts they had more success in building their mathematical abilities in Discovery math as they could build on their current knowledge and had confidence in their skills and abilities.

“The true advantage of such exercise is that generates mental industriousness. Any teacher will tell you that many students today are mentally lazy. Memorization also trains the mind to pay attention and focus intensely. Such skill also seems to be lacking in many youngsters, which is most obvious in the growing number of kids diagnosed with ADHD”. William Kelmm

While reading through classmates blogs I enjoyed Taylor’s final thoughts. She posted about Shelly Wright’s article, Flipping Bloom’s Taxonomy. I must admit it does seem like an interesting concept and something that does make you wonder how much we see this in today’s classrooms.

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Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc

I do feel that schools should teach concepts that can be googled and I do think that there is validity in memorizing facts and building our brain, but that’s not all there is. They are both just one support for our bridge to building strong learners. We need to have a balance of  teaching tools to continue our learning journey for our students.

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4 thoughts on “Building Bridges – Google it?

  1. Very interesting points. I like the way you talked about the bridge, and how a possible line of questioning got unintentionally stopped by simply jumping straight to the answer. It seems to me that googling things has brought an end to wondering about things. Nobody sits at a table and debates an idea, they just google it. When watching a movie, you no longer ask “What else was that actor in?” You just google it. It seems like the process of flipping through your mental rolodex is a dying art, which I think is our students’ loss.

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    • Thanks for your comment! I agree with you. I would say that when I am with family or friends and we are discussing a topic someone always ends up googling and answer!

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  2. Totally agree with the idea of not “jumping” straight to Google for answers – first there must be more critical thinking and questions – I believe too many teachers and students run right to Google instead of “pushing” ourselves or our kids to think first.

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    • I need to be more aware and pause before I type something into google and do some questioning first…even for myself… i rely on it WAY too much at home. YIKES!….

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