The article below was written by JEFFREY WEISS of the Dallas News, I thought it was an awesome article describing of the communication challenges of today’s digital native students. With all the technological advances we enjoy come new challenges, education has to address to prepare our students for college and career.
Is speaking audibly and in complete sentences an academic skill? Is listening actively — watching who is talking — something to be taught in schools? Should teachers be concerned as a matter of curriculum whether their students can carry on civil conversations?
At Peak Preparatory, a successful charter school in Old East Dallas, the answers to all three questions are unambiguously “Yes.” With the start of this school year, in every class from kindergarten through 12th grade, every teacher and every student know that every question, answer or conversation is supposed to meet specific standards. “It’s built into everything we do,” said Christopher Garcia, director for kindergarten through fifth grade at Peak. “We are holding scholars accountable for 100 percent of these.” Students are always “scholars” at Peak. The 7-year-old school is part of Uplift Education, the largest charter school network in Texas. Math skills, science knowledge, writing ability — those have long been a successful focus. Peak has earned an Exemplary rating from the Texas Education Agency. But this past spring, the school’s teachers responded to a survey saying that there were other proficiencies where their kids weren’t gaining ground: Too many students spoke too softly, looked away from each other or their teachers, offered or gave offense without cause. And then there was the story brought home by one of the school’s top recent graduates, a young man who had earned a substantial scholarship to a prestigious university. When he got there, he was invited to dinner by his new roommate and his roommate’s dad. And the Peak grad found himself tongue-tied, unable to carry on a conversation, and totally intimidated by the college environment. That’s a problem, Garcia said.