Know “Where” Learning

In my many years of teaching, which at this point makes me OLD, I have seen so many shifts in education.  Not all of them have been good!  With the advent and growth of the World Wide Read / Write Web, my teaching philosophy has taken a huge turn.  For years now, I have been a big proponent of teaching students how and where to find the answers to questions.  My colleagues, and other adult friends, have cried out, “they need to memorize these “things” (insert any subject).  What’s going to happen when the Internet goes down?  How are they going to be able to do anything?”  My response has been that a) I don’t think that’s going to happen and b) it’s here to stay just like many other inventions that people proclaimed as fads.  My great, great uncle once had a chance to invest in Henry Ford’s new idea of mass producing the horseless carriage.  My uncle turned him down saying that he didn’t feel the horseless carriage would take off and that it was just a fad!  (Slap to the forehead!)  My point here is that while there are, of course, things that students need to know without having to look it up, there are many, many things that they  don’t need to as long as they know how and where to find the answers they need.

As I began putting more and more of my curriculum into project based collaborative learning units, I realized that students are happier and learn more by finding the answers themselves.  It’s a much more authentic way to learn.  Wait….did I just say learn?  Yes, that is what I said.  They don’t need to learn it from me.  They need to have my guidance on where to find what they need to learn!  This has been a huge shift in my teaching practice.  I find that guiding them towards their own creation of knowledge allows them to retain that knowledge for a lot longer than the test.  Some of the best assessments that I have given have not been about regurgitating the answers that I gave them but showing me the answers that they found.  Now that our school is a 1:1 school, I expect that there will be even more of a shift as more and more sites and applications become available for me to use with my particular subject!

My views on this shift have not changed due to this course but they have been strengthened!  The one shift that I know I need to start focusing more on is teaching my students the “how and where“.  It is hard to find those extra hours to spend teaching that skill but after spending time with this course and reflecting on my students’ skill levels, I know that it is a skill that I owe it to my students to teach.  I’m really excited to continue working through the shift of Know “Where” Learning.


3 thoughts on “Know “Where” Learning

  1. Some “older” teachers do have a difficult time embracing the technology train. Change can be difficult. I do find myself having to refocus and look at how things will be for our new type of learner. As frightening as it can be, it’s also as exciting!


  2. When I first started teaching I had my students memorizing formulas and other important ideas for math. Often, they knew how to apply formulas but could not memorize. Therefore, they would get questions wrong because of the memorization piece and I felt that there scores did not reflect their abilities. However, now with Internet access instantly available through their phones, there is no reason to memorize them. I now focus on the students being able to apply the concept rather than memorization. When students find a job later in life, their employer is not going to require them to recite how to do something from the top of their head. They will need to be able to find the appropriate resources quickly and efficiently to find the solution. I encourage my students to be able to recognize formulas and procedures and know what to do each step of the way. If they hit a roadblock, they can find the solution from where they know to find it.

    Brian Ding


    • Brian –

      I feel exactly the same way. I get so frustrated with teachers who still have the mentality of “what happens if the all the electronics go away”! Face it, like the “horseless carriage” they are here to stay!



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