How many hours of the 24 hours in a day do you think an average student speaks? Let’s paint a picture. Say, for instance, you are an 8th grade student. You wake up at 7 for school. Well, that right there is 7 hours without speaking. You walk to school alone, get in at 8:10AM and say good morning to your friends briefly during homeroom until your teacher quiets you down to teach. She gives you a 20 minute work period to collaborate. You repeat this for 8 classes for a total of 160 minutes of speaking time. Let’s say you hang out with your friends for an hour after school, that brings us to 220 minutes. Then, you get home and are attached to your phone. You were looking at it so much you didn’t even make eye contact with your mom at the dinner table. You did your homework, maybe texted a friend for help, took a shower, put on your pajamas and went on Snapchat until you fell asleep. The picture has been painted, and we are at give or take 4 hours out of a 24 hour day actually communicating with others.
What has changed?
Technology. That simple. There were no handheld devices to entertain ourselves back in the day. TVs were present, but programs were not nearly as entertaining or crystal clear. There was no Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Google, PS4, Xbox, Apple watches amongst many other devices. But now, there is. As a result, teens are spending NINE HOURS using technology and not speaking.
What Can We do to get our students to speak?
If students spend 9 hours a day in front of a screen, FINE. LET THEM. But let us not as educators take this as a loss, instead let’s use this to our advantage. To be fair, students are communicating, maybe the same amount as back in the day, but it’s different communication. Texting. DMing. Tweeting. Commenting on posts. This is what they know, so why not design our lessons accordingly through their excellence of digital literacy. Below is a picture from one of students using my favorite communicative math tool, http://teacher.desmos.com
How is this Higher Order Thinking?
Well, this student created “Two Truths and a Lie”. She interpreted the graph, analyzed its features, and self-evaluated the truth to each statement. Another student then answered this question and explained why they chose their answer. All of a sudden, without speaking we have explained, interpreted, evaluated, and created. We did it through what they know best, communication via digital media. The saying is “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” This is a great case of this.