Project Tomorrow is a nonprofit organization that's sole focus is on the education of our nation. Their vision is to ensure that the students today grow into becoming educated and well-prepared citizens of the future. They strive to find what students believe they need in the classroom. Through Speak Up, students’ voices across the nation are heard and reform in education can be made to accommodate the needs of the youth.
In the report, “Learning in the 21st Century Mobile Devices + Social Media = Personalized Learning” students have demonstrated themselves to be up to date on modern devices. Students in today’s classrooms are more likely to own a personal smart phone or tablet than they were in years prior. Furthermore, 87% of their parents have stated that the implementation of technology in their child’s classroom is important to them. This high number surprises me because I wouldn’t expect as many parents to say this is important to them, and certainly not to have 50% of them say that it is extremely important to them. I believe that if these numbers are that high and parents feel this strongly about having technology implemented in the classrooms, than as educators we should continually strive to meet the need and desire. I believe this need could simply be met by using what is already in place. If the numbers indicate that students are likely to have a smart phone or other smart device on them during school hours, perhaps lessons could be designed to take advantage of that fact and meet the students where they are. When educators meet the population of students where they stand, success is more likely to be gained in the classroom.
After watching the, “Is Anyone Listening” video, students express the same sentiment of wanting an increase in technological use in the class. They state that allowing students to research and uncover answers on their own through technology, they become more interested in the classroom and the struggle to gain student engagement is decreased. What is surprising is that some students agree that mobile devices are not the way to go about incorporating technology in the classroom. While I would presume students would be the first groups of individuals to state that smart phones and other mobile devices should be utilized, these students recognize their potential for distraction and instead suggest the use of computers in the classroom. As an educator, the ability to control what my students are doing on their cell phones when they should be focusing or paying attention is one of my chief concerns. Having a student recognize that it is a real concern and stating that their engagement will be just the same and allow them to be more focused if their able to use computers makes me feel more comfortable with the use of technology in the classroom. While I would still like to discover a way to incorporate cell phone or smart phone use in the classroom, I will always strive to allow my students the time to use computers to drive their education as well.
Aside from allowing voices in education to be heard across the nation, Project Tomorrow is already implementing a program that trains and equips today’s students to begin educating the faces of our future. Through YouthTeach2Learn, high school students interested in math and science are designing inquiry-based lessons and going out and teaching them to elementary school students. When students are engaged in science and math before the age of eight and nine, a future for them in that field is initiated. The benefits of this program are endless. Not only are elementary school students receiving the opportunity to become actively engaged in the field of science early on, but also the high school students doing the educating are learning in the process. One of the best ways to learn is to teach the material, and these high school students are furthering their education as well as spurring an interest in a future in education by being a part of this program.