1. Discuss two points on which Prensky and Tim Brown would agree. Give at least one additional resource and tie it into your discussion.
Marc Prensky and Tim Brown both strongly advocate for open exploration in the quest for information. Prensky describes a component of the partnering process as “letting students choose their own path to the answers” (2010, p. 91). By allowing students to search for and choose the right tool, method, and solution to a problem, they become actively engaged in their learning. They understand that they will come across problems in their lives that do not have “one right answer” and must explore the many options available to them in order to meet their needs most effectively. Brown agrees by pointing out that kids are more engaged with open possibilities. He promotes allowing students the opportunity to practice divergent and convergent thinking. Narrowing a student’s opportunity to explore can feel stifling, however, allowing students to explore what is interesting to them and using that knowledge to meet their needs can offer unlimited learning experiences. More importantly, Adora Svitak, in her TED2010 video podcast, points out the importance of trusting children enough to allow them to be the creative force not only in their own learning, but also in the teaching of adults.
Another point that Prensky and Brown agree upon is the reality of learning. Prensky clearly defines the difference between relevance and reality and states that everything being taught today should “come directly from the world of the students—either their world of today or their world of tomorrow” (2010, p.73). He points out that we must use “real-world tools to access and analyze publically available information” (2010, p. 73) This real world learning gives students the knowledge and confidence to approach, struggle with, and solve real problems facing their school, the country, or even the world. By creating solutions to real problems in the world, students see that the work they do in school has meaning beyond the four walls of their classroom. Brown supports this claim by adding that kids who are allowed to play by projecting themselves into real experiences are more successful problem solvers and create more effective solutions. He gives the example of children playing “dress up” in order to try out and empathize with the experiences they may actually face. Will Richardson further supports real learning from a parent’s point of view in his article, How We Can Connect School Life to Real Life. Richardson states that most parents would rather know their children were creating something meaningful in school and that their “creations had the opportunity to live in the world” (2012, para. 7).
2. What would Prensky say about the video, “ Asking higher level questions”? What is one suggestion that Prensky would give this teacher? How would you rate most of the questions using Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy?
After watching the Asking Higher Level Questions video, Prensky would be generally pleased with the initial attempt this teacher has made in the partnering process. Students were connecting with their peers and learning in groups, and they were also doing the majority of the discussing as the teacher only interjected occasionally to provide scaffolding to students who may be struggling.
Prensky, however, makes it clear that the most important part of partnering planning is “translating the content of lessons into the questions you will ask to guide students to the information and learning they need” (2010, p. 83). This teacher provided her students with higher-order thinking stems that would guide them to generate and evaluate their own questions from the text. However, with the exception of these thinking stems and occasional prompting questions such as, “Why?” or “What might that mean?” there was little evidence of a “big or overarching question” (Prensky, 2010, p.84) to guide students’ learning. Therefore, while the teacher has implemented several steps in the partnering process, there are improvements to be made.
Prensky might suggest that these students be given the opportunity to make their learning real by solving authentic problems suggested by their texts. The teacher could prompt the students to create questions that have an authentic purpose based on their specific text. For example, the group reading about Vietnam could work from the question they created about the differences between America and Vietnam, but could then further their work by determining ways in which these differences could be diminished. If students are already engaged through their discussion of the text via Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy question stems, imagine their engagement when faced with solving real problems.
Based on Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, I would rate the questions the students generated as Level 2. Understanding. They ranged from inferring about a grandmother’s impact on her grandson, generalizing whether or not children should be permitted to work in the fields all day long and comparing Vietnam to America. These processes all fall within the Understanding category.
4. You are a new principal in a school where test scores and the county curriculum have been the primary focus for years. You are trying to initiate Prensky’s partnering process. How do you help teachers who feel that they must teach to the test and must tell students every fact in the stated curriculum so that students can memorize it for the test?
The first step in initiating Prensky’s partnering process in a school whose primary focus has been teaching to the test is to choose several teachers who believe in the process to act as models and allow the remaining teachers to observe what they do. By starting out small, teachers who do not feel comfortable with the process can watch, ask questions, and analyze both the teacher and student roles in partnering. They can then begin to integrate one component at a time until the process is fully implemented. As a principal, it would be my responsibility to provide my teachers with the necessary strategies, resources, and support needed to change from a traditional way of teaching to a 21st century method.
A more persuasive, concrete method may be to compare work samples from students who have worked with the partnering process to those of a more traditional method. Additionally administering student surveys to students in both groups that question student engagement, levels of learning, and enjoyment may be eye opening to teachers of traditional methods. By comparing the different methods of instruction, those that struggle to let go of the “teach to the test” mentality, may see in black and white how this type of instruction is actually more effective. As with anything new, it will take time to convince all teachers to alter their instruction, but with each new teacher that commits to the process, the benefits will become more fully realized.
Prensky describes a belief that is held by most educators by stating that “partnering teachers prepare students for their exams, they also prepare them for their future” (2010, p. 82). With the increase in high-stakes testing, it’s no wonder teachers feel the pressure of teaching to the test. However, once they see the impact on achievement that partnering can attain while also providing students with enjoyment, engagement, and independence, teachers will be sold on the partnering process.
Brown, T. (2008). The powerful link between creativity and play. TED Partner Series. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/RjwUn-aA0VY
[esax6]. (2010, April 13). Asking higher level thinking questions. .
Retrieved from https://youtu.be/dK5iX-j_NHs
Prensky, M. (2010). Teaching digital natives: Partnering for real learning. Thousand Oaks, CA:
Richardson, W. (2012, October 5). How we can connect school to real life. Retrieved from
Svitak, A. (2010). What adults can learn from kids. TED2010. . Retrieved from