Today’s modern classrooms are emerging as a disruption of the classroom of old, and a little disruption can be a good thing if it’s done for the right reasons. There’s no better reason than achieving better learning.
In this new disrupted vision, we see students collaborating with each other in groups. They’re employing technology for researching and building their projects. They chat with students around the world via video screens and tinker with solving problems through hands-on learning. In our modern classrooms, everything has changed.
We have at last discarded the unrealistic expectations we’ve held for so long as the digital generation is being embraced. We have acknowledged differences in learning styles and acquired (and are still mastering) tools to help achieve better learning outcomes with our students.
Believe it or not, beneficially disrupting your own classroom has little to do with technology or Web access. It’s more to do with a shifting in paradigm. This is about inspiring independence and interdependence in children. You too can easily get started on this remarkable new path that is defining modern classrooms all over the world.
Kids Do Well if They Can
We know now that children want to do well. When they don’t, it’s because of lagging skills and unsolved problems. No amount of coercion or reward is going to solidly teach them how to teach themselves.
When students become dependent on outward rewards and consequences they lose any sense of intrinsic satisfaction of solving problems with grace and skill. So teachers and administrators are changing the way they address challenging behavior. They’re discarding the old tools of suspension and detention in favor of more creative and productive solutions. These approaches honor the whole child.
The old image of students in their seats and in neat rows is the antithesis of the social and interactive process of real learning. Other seating arrangements favor collaboration, better understanding, and retention. Teachers are experimenting with different arrangements that enhance learning and are considering individual learning styles and experiences. They use traditional seating some days and group seating other days, but the point is they’re shaking things up.
The nature of homework is also changing. With the popularity of YouTube and other streaming video servers, teachers are using flipped videos. Sites like Khan Academy are replacing the old textbook. They show even the most challenged learner how to grasp anything.
This means that instruction doesn’t have to occur and reoccur within the classroom. There’s no more wasting valuable time when the instruction can happen in the comfort of one’s home. When students do arrive in the classroom, they’ve watched the instructional video as many times as needed. The classroom becomes the laboratory for experimenting, discussing, trying things out, collaborating, and higher-order thinking.
Project Based Learning
With project-based learning, our modern classrooms are becoming a fertile ground for solving the problems that matter. The curriculum is derived from the real world, not from archaic outdated textbooks. Learning becomes alive because students are actively engaged in things that have relevance to them. Thus, they take ownership of their learning and learn to honor each other’s different skills and work together as a team.
Technology Brings Collaboration
The Web has become a source of endless information and opportunities to forge relationships across the globe. It could be gathering insights of students instantaneously through Twitter in Education. Maybe it’s following through on a project using Trello or Basecamp. Technology makes this simpler and organized because everything is in one place.
Students are creating digital portfolios through LInkedIn to preserve their accomplishments for future college or job opportunities. Skype in Education and the like are giving students glimpses into other cultures and nations. They can talk directly to professionals without having to leave the classroom.
Collaborative games like Minecraft in Education are changing the face of modern classrooms by making learning and problem-solving fun. Grading quizzes using Quizlet with tablets is transforming ways in which teachers collect data. In real time, teachers’ grade books are updated with information. Students plug in their answers and data is collected instantaneously. It’s saving time for the teacher and giving instant feedback to students.
BYOD programs in schools embrace technology as a real tool of the future. Students learn safe practices and digital citizenship and how to work within a global society. In Tinkering Schools, kids can interact with tools and other objects and use what they know of math, physics, and anything else that comes to mind as they immerse themselves in creating and building solutions. Kids learn by doing and failing and trying again.
The old role of the teacher as the disseminator of information is transforming. Now the teacher is a facilitator and guides students to discover things on their own. The teacher speaks about and models the Growth Mindset in which kids are taught that intelligence is not fixed; rather, it can increase with practice and patience.
You may have decided to include some of these tools in your daily teaching practices. Likewise, you may discard some of them. Either way, it’s hard to ignore the fact that better learning is achieved when students take ownership of their learning.