As students in the Graham Independent School District, the nation, and the world become more and more familiar with instant information retrieval as part of the internet age, it only makes sense that strategies for teaching these students continue to evolve in line with this reality.

Already, teachers are adjusting their methods significantly, switching from a lecture based format to an application based format.

Teachers are recording their lectures online for their students to study the evening prior to class. They are learning to differentiate between their students' varying technological aptitudes and adjusting according to those skill levels. Where at one time, a library was the definitive source for information on a given subject, teachers are now having to make sure that the information their students look up online is accurate and from a reliable source.

“What we need to concern ourselves with is teaching kids when they have Google or YouTube searched something, what is an accurate bit of information that they're looking for,” said Ashley Stewart, assistant superintendent of the GISD. “Is it relevant?”

Stewart says this not as the defining approach to teaching in general, but in regard to internet sourcing for educational purposes, a trend that is becoming more common each new school year. According to GISD Superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter, this shift from lecture based to application based classrooms is here to stay, and the primary goal of the modern teacher should be to instill a strong sense of critical thinking in the classroom, as that is what future employers are looking for.

He added that because information can be accessed instantly, teachers must now serve as guides in different ways.

“The things we hear from businesses, and even the things we hear from colleges is ‘We want our kids to be able to think for themselves,'” Ledbetter said. “And that's the challenge. The great thing about technology is that in the world they're in (students), you do have information at your fingertips very quickly. But now, let's take them beyond that and show them how to process that information and how to apply it.”

For Ledbetter, the bottom line for his district is the successful adaptation of his students to a rapidly changing world.

“Everybody is having this conversation,” he said. “Everybody realizes that we cannot continue to do what we've always done. The world has changed. Our kids have changed. The demands out in the workforce, in the world and in society have changed, and if we don't change and adapt to that, we're going to be left behind.”

Read the entire story in this Wednesday's Graham Leader.