Thursday, January 28, 2010

More on teaching with iPods: Preserving tradition and culture

In a recent post I mentioned how the public often reacts strongly to the idea of new technology being used in the classroom. Perhaps one mistake we make is to not reassure them that good ol' fashioned teaching is still taking place, and that these new tools are only augmenting the traditional education they're afraid of losing.

One school in Minnesota is doing it very well:

A charter school on the White Earth Indian Reservation is using traditional culture and language to get kids and parents excited about education.

The aging brick school building sits across the road from a small housing development in Naytahwaush, a remote reservation village of about 500.

For generations, this school was part of the Mahnomen school district. School officials from 20 miles away made decisions about the classes and the kids.

Now, it's a charter school designed around community, culture and language. The school Web site hosts video language tutorials produced by third-graders.

It seems that the dedicated folks running the Naytahwaush Community Charter School in a remote northern Minnesota village are on the front line of teaching, just as they are down in St. Paul:

Kent Estey runs the media center, a small room crammed with computer equipment. He said the language videos are one way to connect the school with the community.

"So we have students actually teaching their parents and reminding their grandparents of the Ojibwe language that is lost," Estey said. "Technology is a wonderful tool."

The students also publish their own books and they just started a weekly podcast.

Charter School Co-Director Don Nordlund said creating projects the rest of the community can use and enjoy gets kids excited about school.

"How do you hook somebody to be interested in learning? Culture is a vehicle we can use for kids to learn," Nordlund said. "We have some projects we put on iPods. They take them home and the grandparents and parents are excited about that. And when they get excited about it the kids come back and want to do more and it just feeds itself."

Technology and tradition are not mutually exclusive. In reality, the former can greatly augment the preservation of the latter. As we like to say at Atomic Learning, embracing technology empowers us. 

Read the entire story at Minnesota Public Radio. Contact us to find out how to empower your teachers, students, and their community.


Post a Comment