Common Sense, Teaching and Educational Technology
In my classroom, I like to use certain phrases and sayings that have become somewhat of a cliché for me. One of my favorite phrases to use is, “Common sense is not a flower that grows in every garden.” Most people like the phrase “common sense ain’t so common”.
Common sense is the general term used to describe an ability to use reasoning and logic in everyday situations. It is a basic aspect of human intelligence allowing us to navigate our way through our daily lives. Common sense is based on experience, observations, and the culture you were raised in. It usually involves core principles, risk assessment and consideration for others (empathy).
So, why is it that we as teachers do not utilize or teach common sense? One of the most important aspects of common sense is to promote understanding over memorization. I am not saying that memorization is a bad thing. There are certain things that you just need to know . However, studies have shown that students who understand the material are more likely to retain the knowledge. Most importantly, they can apply this knowledge to real world situations. This is why it is important to teach and cultivate critical thinking, common sense and problem solving, rather than just rote memorization.
Just how do we foster this shift to understanding over memorization? Traditional lectures have their place in education. For example, introducing some new material and content. They need to be supplemented with activities that require the student to engage with the material in different ways. Active learning activities help a student to apply what they learn in meaningful ways. They create a need for common sense and understanding. Students learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning process. They need some agency and accountability. Open ended, project-based learning is huge for this.
Participating in these open-ended problems is a fantastic way to emphasize practical skills (common sense). The soft skills that the students learn through these projects are going to be beneficial to them overall. We are teaching them life skills they can use to succeed well beyond the classroom. Skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management.
The integration of educational technology, or edtech, has brought some significant changes to the way that students learn, and teachers teach. The use of edtech has also raised concern about its effectiveness and impact on student learning outcomes. We do not want to create another passive learning environment like we already have. Additionally, we want to ensure that the integration of edtech does not widen the existing inequality gap. Everyone needs equal access to edtech tools as well as the technology to use those tools
It is important that edtech be used with some common sense in the classroom. Just because you have a tool and can use the tool does not mean that you should. Digitizing a worksheet just makes it an expensive worksheet. Teachers, administration, and parents need to make sound decisions on incorporating technology for their students and children.
Here are some strategies to add some edtech to the classroom:
- Use real-world examples: Use real-world examples and scenarios to demonstrate common sense in action. Discuss with your students how the situations could have been handled better or differently.
- Encourage collaboration: Encourage collaboration among students to develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Give them opportunities to work together in groups to solve problems.
- Practice decision-making: Give students opportunities to practice decision-making by presenting them with choices and scenarios to consider. Discuss the implications of each option and encourage them to make an informed decision.
- Role-play exercises: Use role-playing exercises to help students practice handling different situations. This will help them build confidence in their problem-solving skills.
- Use case studies: Use case studies to analyze and discuss situations where common sense is important. This will help students to understand how to apply common sense to different situations.
- Teach problem-solving skills: Teach students how to identify problems and produce creative solutions. This will help them to develop critical thinking skills that are essential for common sense.
- Use simulations: Use simulations to help students understand complex situations and practice making decisions. This can include virtual simulations or real-life simulations, such as a mock trial.
- Encourage questioning: Encourage students to ask questions and seek clarification when they are unsure about something. This will help them to develop their analytical skills and become more independent thinkers.
- Model good decision-making: Model good decision-making by explaining your reasoning behind your decisions. This will help students to understand how to make informed decisions and develop their own critical thinking skills.
- Use reflection: Encourage students to reflect on their own decision-making processes and how they can improve. This will help them to develop self-awareness and continue to improve their commonsense skills.
Here are some strategies to add common sense and ed tech together:
- Use digital tools for collaboration: Use digital tools such as Google Drive or Microsoft Teams to encourage collaboration among students. This will help them develop teamwork and communication skills, as well as improve their digital literacy.
- Use online assessments: Use online assessments to track student progress and identify areas where they need additional support. This will help you tailor your teaching to meet the needs of each student.
- Encourage responsible use of technology: Teach students how to use technology responsibly and safely. This includes teaching them about online etiquette, privacy, and security.
- Use online resources: Use online resources such as Khan Academy or YouTube to provide additional support for students. This can help them learn at their own pace and provide a different perspective on the material.
- Use gamification: Use gamification to make learning more engaging and interactive. This can include using educational games or incorporating game-like elements into classroom activities.
- Use digital storytelling: Use digital storytelling tools such as Adobe Spark or Canva to help students develop their creativity and communication skills. This can include creating presentations, videos, or infographics.
- Use virtual field trips: Use virtual field trips to give students a more immersive learning experience. This can include virtual tours of museums, historical sites, or natural wonders.
- Use online discussion boards: Use online discussion boards to encourage students to engage in meaningful discussions about course material. This can help them develop critical thinking and communication skills.
- Use adaptive learning platforms: Use adaptive learning platforms such as DreamBox or ALEKS to provide personalized learning experiences for each student. This can help them progress at their own pace and provide additional support where needed.
- Use digital portfolios: Use digital portfolios to help students track their progress and showcase their work. This can help them reflect on their learning and provide evidence of their achievements.