Even the most tech-savvy teacher must occasionally find themselves marvelling at the digital literacy of their pupils. Generation Z, born in the early 2000s or later, have grown up with technology. They used iPads before they could write, are fluent in emojis and have an app for every occasion.
I firmly believe this generation needs a new approach to help them reach for the stars.
Build up your team
One of the enduring benefits of the digital age is the ability to share information quickly and easily, enabling better teamwork. The same applies when creating pupil interventions.
For interventions to succeed, you need to bring together your dream team – the parents or carers, teachers, the intervention teacher and most importantly, the child.
Make sure the entire team is pulling in the same direction so teachers can work together, parents can help at home and your Gen Z pupil knows their goals and the steps required to reach them.
Give the pupil a voice
Gen Z students tend to be independent, so it helps if teachers can involve the child in making decisions and setting targets.
One way I do this is to use a smiley face questionnaire to help me understand what they consider to be their barriers and which intervention is most likely to help them.
The smiley faces make the exercise fun and prompt pupils to think about their progress, express how they feel and get their voices heard.
Boost their confidence
On the whole, Generation Z is motivated by praise and rewards. This approach can be very effective in getting a child to recognise their strengths and identify areas for improvement. Praise is important, but always make clear what you are praising.
Another way to build a pupil’s confidence is by asking them to help out in class, or by encouraging them to recommend a book to another pupil. Children respond well when they understand that you trust them with knowledge and tasks.
Make it fun
Some say Gen Z have a shorter attention span than previous generations, and if this is your experience, then it can be challenging to keep these pupils on task.
Try using technology to speed up processes, or to make activities more enjoyable; for example, we use eye-tracking software to assess progress in reading before and after an intervention, and it only takes a couple of minutes.
For some children, pen and paper causes more anxiety than technology, so try using an app or an online tool to reduce the stress and make it fun.
Enjoy the great outdoors
While tech is a great way to engage the digital generation, today’s pupils probably spend more time on screens than is good for them, so venturing beyond the classroom can provide a fresh perspective on learning. New sights, sounds and smells can fuel communication, and children often interact differently with teachers and classmates outside the confines of the classroom.
Ring the changes
Variety is the spice of life, and for a generation used to snippets and soundbites, change is the key to keeping pupils engaged.
There are plenty of new ideas online. Look for free resources and search the web for advice and support on teaching approaches. Twitter is a mine of information and inspiration, and education bloggers have plenty of tips to offer.
Surprise your pupils by flipping lessons and playing games. It can take a bit of planning, but if the children enjoy it, you will too.
Some children will respond better than others to these approaches and there may be an element of trial and error in finding the most effective techniques.
But with an open mind and a willingness to try new technologies and activities, you will set them on the road to success.
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