Thursday, 24 May 2012

Untapped Resource(s)

When I tell people that the kids coming into my classroom are more technologically equipped and capable than I am, I get different reactions. Most people respond with: "yeah, right!"

I'm a new teacher and as a recent graduate, ICT is a hot topic and integrating technology into curricular areas is something that is usually on my mind. Some people assume, because I'm into technology and willing to try new things with ICT in the classroom, that I know way more than the students I teach.

I do not think this is true. From the minute I entered the teaching profession, I was encouraged by professors, cooperating teachers, and colleagues to integrate ICT, not to teach it. Allow students to explore the technology we have in the 21st century, while building knowledge in the curricular areas. Students have been surrounded by the latest technologies for many years now. Many of them come in with the gadgets, the knowledge, and the ability to do things we have only heard about or possibly did not know were possible. It is important as teachers to use the resources we have. Our students!

In grades 7 and 8, students are looking for importance and relevance in the material presented to them. It is the least we can do to allow them meaningful ways to express their knowledge and opinions. What better way to show students relevance in their learning and provide them with ownership of their education than to give them some control. Releasing the control in a classroom is a difficult thing for teachers to do, however the results achieved from encouraging students to find unique ways to display what they have learned can be well worth the experiment. Involving students in the planning and executing of assignments gives them the opportunity to tell their teachers what the can do and will allow them to focus their abilities and ideas toward a constructive purpose.

The resources available to teachers are endless due to the Internet, social media, and how so many educators have bought into the sharing theory. Our students are one of the most valuable resources we have and it is vital to use them in a positive way in order to enhance each educational experience for each learner. They are untapped resources that need to be used for them to gain further ownership of their education.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Three C's

Recently, I have been taking in a lot of professional development sessions, mostly geared toward ICT integration in the classroom. After these experiences, I've really been conscience about how I am incorporating 21st century skills and learning into the educational experiences of my students.

In one of these recent professional development sessions, I was involved win a discussion about how 21st century skills aren't really about technology. They aren't
talking about the tools we are bringing into our schools, they are referring to how we use these tools to enrich student learning.

Learning used to revolve around R's. Reading, (W)riting, and (A)rithmetic. I remember hearing a while ago that learning and education is no longer about R's, but C's. Yes, students must know the basic skills. But while they are practicing how to read, write, add, and subtract do we not need to connect them to the real world. The things that are happening in their lives.

My classroom is beginning to revolve around The Three C's. Communicate, collaborate, and create.

Instead of just learning how to read, write, add, and subtract, students need to know why they are doing these things. What is the relevance of these skills to their life and to the world in which they live? We should be teaching students that they use these skills to communicate their understanding. Strengthen these skills in order to communicate with people constructively. Communicating effectively will prepare students for many real life situations.

Real life situations very often involve working with others. If we don't show students how to work together and give them the opportunity to practice working together, collaborating in the real world will be difficult. Yes, students should see the value and learn the importance of independence, but collaboration will prepare them for experiences they encounter for the rest of their lives. Web tools and devices make collaboration relevant to a 21st century learner, which allows educators to play right into the hands of students.

Finally, the 21st century learner must be given a chance to create. Not simply creating projects, but creating their own knowledge. Research and organization skills that allow students to ask questions and find answers, rather than be told by a teacher through lectures and note-taking.

If given the freedom, students and teachers can use The Three C's to connect the classroom to the real world and truly make learning relevant.