Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The NEW Three R's

The New Three R's- The Three E's [Extract, Evaluate, and Express]
As I was sitting in the doctor's office waiting for my daughter to finish up her appointment, I glanced over and saw a parenting magazine on the table.  As I was skimming over the articles, one in particular caught my eye-
The new three R’s (Raising kids who are information literate).  With the new school year right around the corner, it definitely caught my interest and I read on.  In the article the author describes what it is like being a kid in the TMI (too much information) Age, where being able to extract, evaluate and express new information is vital to future success in the work place.  She goes on to describe that more than half of the jobs in the US are knowledge related- being able to access, critique, and share information with others.  As my fellow educator and friend Rick Glass reminds us frequently, we are training the students of today for jobs that presently do no exist.  Think about that one for a minute and you will become instantly overwhelmed with the job that we as educators must do on a daily basis in the classroom.  Tech Literacy is fast becoming a focal point in many school districts, like District 97 in Oak Park where we are focusing on integrating technology across the curriculum.  As stated in the article, it is critically important that young people have these skills as "more than half the jobs in the US are now classified as knowledge workers, people who get paid to access, apply, and generate information."  One website that is of particular interest is the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) that has a list of National Educational Technology Standards for students, teachers, and administrators.  They also have a wiki available to discuss the standards, ask questions, and develop ideas together.  The menu on the left hand side of the page will direct you to grade specific (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) technology operations and concepts.

Basically it all comes down to the three E's [ extract, evaluate, and express].
1.Extract- figure out what you want to know (clarify a question), think about the best way to track down the answer (books, newspapers, websites...), discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each for your given question.  Compare results from various search engines and discuss the differences between referenced works (Worldbook.com) and those that are produced by collaboration (Wikipedia.org) of experts and neophytes.
2.Evaluate- being able to think critically in the information age is a must where we are overwhelmed daily with TMI.  A must have skill is being able to understand point of view and how it affects the reliability of the information.  Students need to ask who produced this information, what are their credentials, is the information unbiased, is there an agenda present- do they want money, a vote, cooperation, respect?  Students need to be skeptical, not cynical and evaluate the information by asking the tough questions: what's the evidence? does it make sense? and what's the other side of the story?
3. Express- encourage students to express what they learned through social networking (like Twitter), photo sharing (like Picassa Web), blogs (like blogger.com) , interactive games (like Scratch), and global collaborative projects (like Globaldreamers and Virtual Classroom).  Power students UP instead of them powering DOWN when they reach the school doors.  Discuss the pros and cons of various forms of expression- what is the message? will collaboration make the project better? how can we make sure that everyone in the group contributes and gets credit for their ideas? 

Make these skills a priority for the students in your classroom this year.
Parent Magazine- August 2009

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