Well hello 2015!
2014 was quite an exciting year, especially for the middle school students in the Bristol Township School District! Wifi, Samsung tablets, educational apps, and students pumped to get their hands on their devices. Eager to be connected to the digital universe!
Whoa! Let’s slow down for just a tiny minute! I wholeheartedly want the students and staff at our school to be connected and to have the great digital divide closed. I am so grateful and appreciative to Digital Promise and the Verizon Foundation for the incredible grant that is equalizing our learning opportunities! The thing is, I (and may I say, most teachers) also want our students to understand how to be connected in the physical world, to their peers, and to the human race.
Let me explain. You see it’s really hard, (almost impossible) for our middle school students to think about consequences, whether in the real world or in the digital world, primarily because they need to be encouraged and guided towards empathy! If we neglect the feelings and experiences of others, we tend to make judgmental remarks that increase isolation. Being empathetic allows us to connect to someone emotionally, it levels the playing field. It creates a safe place where we do not feel judged. When students feel safe, they are more likely to take academic risks, and this leads to a greater capacity for learning! If we want our students to be successful learners in the 21st century, we need to foster and encourage empathy. They will need to collaborate with people from around the globe. It allows for safety, learning, and connection. So, we are not only going to focus on closing the digital divide in 2015, but the human divide as well. Wish us luck!
For more information on creating and fostering empathy, check out my youtube channel for a list of great videos and links!