The Importance of Media in the Classroom

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1 01-TilestoVol09.qxd 8/25/03 3:47 PM Page 1 1 The Importace of Media i the Classroom As teachers, we have a wealth of iformatio from which to choose for our classrooms. We ca ow brig history ito the classroom through pictures, music, ad other visuals to a degree ever before possible. We ca commuicate with studets from other coutries, ad we ca take classes from teachers we have ever met i places we have ever bee. We ca apply the physics from the classroom to simulatios available to us through the Iteret, ad we ca develop projects across grade levels ad campuses. Studets are o loger limited by the walls of a classroom or the kowledge of a sigle textbook. The world is available to most classrooms, eve whe studets do ot have their ow computers. We ca brig the media ito the classroom through visuals, souds, smells, ad tastes. Because our brais rely heavily o stimulus from the outside for learig, this is just oe of the reasos that teachig with media is brai friedly. I additio, we should brig techology to the classroom because: 1

2 01-TilestoVol09.qxd 8/25/03 3:47 PM Page 2 2 Media ad Techology Techology is ot limited by the classroom walls. Techology does ot kow or care what the studet s socioecoomic status may be, ad thus helps to level the playig field for these studets. Techology provides a equal opportuity for everyoe to lear. Techology is more i tue with the way our studets lear today. Techology is so much a part of the real world that to limit its use i the classroom is to limit our studets ability to compete i the world. WHY MEDIA IS BRAIN FRIENDLY Most researchers defie brai-compatible learig as learig that occurs: Usig modalities that are most comfortable for the learer. For example, most learers are either visual or kiesthetic, thus a brai-friedly eviromet will lea heavily o teachig methods that iclude visuals, models, or hads-o activities. I a eviromet that is positive ad friedly ad icorporates high expectatios for everyoe. I a classroom that utilizes research-based methods for teachig ad learig. I a classroom that provides a variety of opportuities for learig. I a classroom that is flexible i terms of time, resources, ad structures. For example, if somethig is ot workig, the problem is idetified, diagosed, ad fixed rather tha just movig o. If studets eed more time to lear, more time is give rather tha stickig to a fixed timetable, regardless of the quality of the learig. I a classroom where quality is importat ad studets are give rubrics or matrices that tell them i advace what is expected.

3 01-TilestoVol09.qxd 8/25/03 3:47 PM Page 3 The Importace of Media i the Classroom 3 I a classroom where stadards are used ad where studets kow the expectatios. The studets are provided opportuities to review their work i terms of give stadards so that they kow at all times where they stad. Whe specific feedback is give cosistetly ad frequetly. Just sayig Good job is ot eough. We are beig ecouraged to use brai-based strategies i our classrooms; oe of the best ways to do so is through the use of media i the teachig/learig processes. I this chapter, we will examie several ways that usig media ehaces the priciples of brai-based learig. THE EFFECT OF MEDIA ON STUDENT MODALITIES As I have discussed i most of my books, about 98% of all icomig iformatio to the brai comes through the seses. Add to that the fact that over 87% of the learers i the classroom prefer to lear by visual ad tactile meas, ad you have a recipe for failure if the primary methods of teachig are auditory. I Growig Up Digital (1998), Do Tapscott said that this Net Geeratio watches much less televisio tha did its parets. The televisio is ot iteractive, ad this geeratio prefers to be active participats i all that they do. Tapscott cited a 1997 survey by Teeage Research Ulimited, i which 80% of the teeagers polled said it is i to be olie right up there with datig ad partyig. THE EFFECT OF MEDIA ON MOTIVATION Accordig to Jese (1997), iteractive abstract learig that icludes the use of various media, such as CD-ROMs, the Iteret, distace learig, or virtual reality, utilizes the categorical memory ad requires little itrisic motivatio. Although traditioal forms of educatio receive the greatest

4 01-TilestoVol09.qxd 8/25/03 3:47 PM Page 4 4 Media ad Techology amout of the educatio dollars, they require a great deal of itrisic motivatio to be effective. Studets must struggle to make the traditioal type of learig work, sice it is outside the cotext of its meaig. I additio, studets from ier-city poverty lear i cotext usually from stories ad to require them to lear all day i a eviromet that is ot brai friedly for them helps to set them up for failure. Similarly, Eglish laguage learers eed visual stimulus to help them to process ad store the iformatio that comes from words. They ofte do ot have the laguage acquisitio skills i Eglish to store a great deal of dialogue i a way that ca be easily retrieved whe eeded. Sematic iformatio (i.e., words, facts, ad ames) is stored i the sematic memory system the least effective of the memory systems of the brai. I order to have meaig to the learer i terms of retrieval, sematic iformatio must have a coector. Try memorizig a log list of words ad you will see what I mea. The brai was ot created for memorizig meaigless iformatio. If you try to memorize a log list of words, you will probably fid yourself devisig a pla to help you, such as creatig acroyms or developig a story aroud the words to help you memorize them. You are givig the words a cotext or coectio to help you remember. Cotextual learig is stored i the episodic memory system, which is much better at rememberig. Remember, the ext time you require studets to lear a list of items, that the more cotext you ca provide, the stroger the recall. Usig media i the form of auditory or visual stimulus ca help you do this. THE EFFECT OF MEDIA ON BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT If you have read What Every Teacher Should Kow About Classroom Maagemet ad Disciplie (Tilesto, 2004a), you kow that most of the disciplie problems i the classroom are caused by such factors as boredom, ot uderstadig the

5 01-TilestoVol09.qxd 9/13/03 12:10 PM Page 5 The Importace of Media i the Classroom 5 relevace of the iformatio, ad icorrect modalities for learig. You also kow that over 87% of the studets i ay give classroom are visual learers. Studets who eter our classrooms have bee a part of a multimedia world sice birth. Studets today were able to isert videos or DVDs of childre s programs ito the appropriate devices for viewig from the time that they were three years old. If they wat to kow somethig, they search the Iteret. It should ot be surprisig to us that these same studets have difficulty sittig all day i classrooms that rely o low techology, such as overheads, whiteboards, lectures, ad ote takig, as the major sources of iformatio gatherig. For the majority of studets, who are visual, just hearig the iformatio is ot eough; they eed to see it ad to experiece it. We lamet the fact that studets do so poorly i mathematics ad yet we teach this subject primarily by lecture ad homework (i.e., drill ad practice). If we ca fid ways to help these studets see how the math works ad how it is applied to the real world, we are more likely to have better math studets. Media ca help us get there quickly. THE EFFECT OF MEDIA ON REACHING HIGHER LEVELS OF THOUGHT There are so may great Websites that ecourage ad teach higher-level thikig that we do a ijustice to our studets if we do ot lead them there. Usig media is the key to movig studets to higher-level thikig. Our studets are already familiar with usig the Iteret ad may of the software programs required to reach such higher-level thikig skills as creativity, problem solvig, compariso ad cotrast, ad evaluatio. We eed to lead them to the best of the best i term of media ad to provide feedback as they work. Realworld applicatios, such as the physics software that explores how to desig amusemet park rides utilizig g-forces without damagig the body, are excitig ad fu, but they also lead studets ito problem solvig ad decisio makig.

6 01-TilestoVol09.qxd 8/25/03 3:47 PM Page 6 6 Media ad Techology I a study by Harold Weglisky (1998) o the impact of media o learig mathematics amog fourth ad eighth graders, it was cocluded that whe computers are used to perform tasks applyig higher-order cocepts ad whe teachers are proficiet i directig studets toward productive uses, computers are associated with sigificat learig gais. THE EFFECT OF MEDIA ON REAL-WORLD APPLICATIONS We kow that motivatio to lear ad to complete tasks is directly related to the studet s perceptio of the relevace of the learig. All learig seems to begi i the self-system of the brai. This is the system that decides whether or ot to egage i the learig. If the task is judged importat, if the probability of success is high, ad a positive affect is geerated or associated with the task, the idividual will be motivated to egage i the ew task (Marzao, Pickerig, & Pollock, 2001). I What Every Teacher Should Kow About Learig, Memory, ad the Brai (Tilesto, 2004c), I ote that oe critical questio asked by the brai i determiig to what to pay attetio to is whether the iformatio is importat: Iformatio ca be importat to the teacher ad to the studets, but uless the studet believes the iformatio is importat, the self-system will ot view it as importat. As teachers, we must ot oly let our studets kow the importace of the learig but also how it will be importat to our studets persoally. Marzao, Pickerig, ad Pollock (2001) explai it this way, What a idividual cosiders to be importat is probably a fuctio of the extet to which it meets oe of two coditios: it is perceived as istrumetal i satisfyig a basic eed, or it is perceived as istrumetal i the attaimet of a persoal goal. I workig with studets from poverty or from the ier city, this is a especially importat aspect of the learig. Probably tellig these studets that the

7 01-TilestoVol09.qxd 9/13/03 12:10 PM Page 7 The Importace of Media i the Classroom 7 learig is importat because they will eed it for college is ot goig to provide motivatio to lear. While teachers ca ad do provide real-world applicatios to the learig i other ways, the use of media is a great tool to lead studets to real-world examples. Three examples of how teachers have effectively tied classroom iformatio to real-world experieces ca be foud at At this woderful site, three educators elemetary, middle, ad high school teachers provide isight ito how they make real-world coectios i their uits. At the elemetary level, teacher Jae Krauss created a 15-week thematic geography uit for her fourth ad fifth graders called Travel USA. Usig geography, history, sciece, ad laguage arts skills, studets take a Germa family o a tour of the Uited States. Studets used the Iteret to research iformatio for their project. Ms. Krauss created a travel Website for the studets as a guide. Middle school teachers Theresa Maves, Meile Harris, ad Jill Whitesell combied sciece, mathematics, ad laguage arts for their eight-week project to desig ad develop a amusemet park ride that safely uses g-forces. Their project, called It s a Wild Ride, icludes the use of computer-based motio detectors ad graphig software. High school studets i Peter Kowles class were challeged to fid a ew productio facility i Lati America for the compay Mega Opus Iteratioal (OPI). This producer of small persoal appliaces, high-tech etertaimet devices, automobiles, apparel, ad electromagetic trasportatio systems offered the host coutry may beefits icludig jobs ad a higher stadard of livig. Studets researched ad preseted bids o behalf of their coutries for the project. Computers were used ot oly for the research but also to create the charts, graphs, ad spreadsheets withi their bid packages. These projects represet a much more excitig ad effective way to lear tha simply readig ad takig otes, followed by a test o Friday.

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