Today’s children, teens, and young adults are considered Generation Z (roughly ages 7 to 22, according to Bloomberg News). These digital natives spend lots of time on social media platforms and grew up using smartphones for just about everything. How can you teach them best? Here are several tips:
Make lessons engaging. Generally, Gen Z students learn best when lessons are hands-on and require them to participate and interact with one another. They like kinesthetic learning and prefer it over sitting back and receiving information.
Use apps to interact. These students move quickly, and they are used to having information at their fingertips. They are fast thinkers and want teachers to respond quickly to their needs. Try offering brief, meaningful feedback on homework assignments and responding to questions using a classroom app.
Divide up classes into bite-sized chunks. Most experts agree that Gen Z students have shorter attention spans due to their “always on” nature and frequent interactions and connections with multimedia environments. The more you can incorporate short brain breaks into lessons, the better for your students’ retention.
Get students involved. With Gen Z, lessons absolutely must be engaging. Begin lessons with something interactive rather than simply reading aloud while everyone listens. For an English research paper, for example, try rotating students through stations, with one station reading together through a text, another working on outline brainstorming (with your guidance), and another working on and sharing their introductory paragraphs.
Take time to talk about appropriate sourcing. Gen Z considers Google an integral part of learning and relies on technology to answer all kinds of questions. While this generation is digitally literate, they need to understand how to determine whether a source of information on the internet is accurate and reliable. Teach them about inadvertent and intentional plagiarism as well as evaluating online sources for trustworthiness and correctness.
Your Gen Z students are visual, quick, and curious. Offer them daily opportunities to discover, create, and think critically in ways that are experiential and hands-on.