"If you are unsure how to complete your homework? Ask Google, a friend, your parents, watch YouTube, or use a calculator and of course you can always come to me for help, too."
When I said that to my 4th and 5th grade students as I introduced their first homework of the year, their mouths dropped. "You mean we are allowed to do that?" they asked.
I answered with another question, "What do you usually do when you want to learn something new or figure out how to do something?"
Many students responded they watched how-to videos or found an article on the internet with directions. Some said they asked their friend for help. Some said they just kept practicing and trying different things until they got it.
So why is learning in school any different than learning outside of school?
When students encounter problems in school with reading, writing, math, etc, I want them to use the same strategies they would use to flip water bottles, play baseball, or beat a video game. I want them thinking about how they can learn something new!
As educators, sometimes we seem to get so caught up on what we are supposed to be teaching and students are supposed to be learning, we place emphasis more on content than actual learning.
I realize my elementary students need fundamentals like reading, writing, and basic math. But, I also realize I am preparing my students for jobs in a world that is unknown. I honestly don't know what they will need to know in the future, but I do know they will need to know how to learn. My students need to understand they must use resources including digital sources, experts, and multiple tools to solve problems, innovate, and rule the world. They also need to know, more often than not, one source isn't going to provide the final solution. They're going to need to also use their brain power, creativity, perseverence, and stay committed to the task.
This is what I want my students to learn. So, yes, my students will be using Google, YouTube, experts, calculators, and anything else they think of to help them learn this year because I'm creating learners.