About a year ago, my then 7 and 3 year old boys were singing a song. I didn't recognize it, because being young often results in some similar-but strange-lyrics to familiar songs, but it was familiar. As I listened to the tune, I finally pinpointed its origin: the 80's. Where had they heard this song that came out when I was in the third grade? Rock Band. Rock Band II, specifically.
What does this have to do with education? Simple. What kids are bringing with them to class is paramount to the teacher, as this is the prior knowledge and schema that we use to hang new knowledge upon in hopes that it will stick a little more firmly. The connections of new learning with existing learning is a trick every skilled teacher uses daily. What kids are bringing with them today is vastly different than even ten years ago.
Example? Livin on a Prayer by Bon Jovi. Just a few years ago, none of my students would have known about this song. Now, many students know all the lyrics.
As we struggle to keep what we are teaching relevant to our students, we must be vigilant about staying current in their world so that we can find those connections. We cannot let ourselves become obsolete, pretending the world around us hasn't changed just because our content hasn't.