Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.-Benjamin Franklin
Recently, I saw a former student from my kindergarten class 20 years ago. Talk about feeling old…she was very sweet and told me I hadn’t changed a bit and that I looked exactly the same. I’m not sure if you can count some wrinkles, gray hair and a few extra pounds exactly the same but I’ll take it. However, even if I look the same on the outside, I’m definitely different on the inside.
The way I look at teaching and learning has changed. Obviously over a career span of 24 years, change is expected. But some of the most significant change has come in the last 2 years as I moved into the role of a facilitator and my students began taking charge of their learning. Through the systematic implementation of the reading and writing workshop approach and by infusing the classroom with the technology from the iPad, my students learn from each other and from a range of collaborative experiences.
This year, I’ve focused on students creating content through a variety of apps and personalizing their learning by giving them choice in these apps. What this has done has given my students freedom in demonstrating what they know. In addition, because they have freedom of choice, they are more engaged and they are retaining more information. Re-teaching skills has been replaced with students collaborating with each other and learning to problem solve together.
Life is messy and not all problems are solved with a “one correct answer” response. Part of my change and growth has come in allowing my students to grapple with problems on their own or in a group and having them see that not all problems are solved all at once. Working collaboratively helps develop interpersonal skills. Having choice in their activities, students are working on self-direction. By having students use iPads to create content, they are constructing new knowledge.
21st century learners need to be able to solve problems, and think critically, creatively, and systematically. 21st century educators have to be able to provide their students with the opportunities to put these skills into practice. In order to do that, we have to be willing to grow and change with our students. The following You Tube movie makes me laugh out loud at its ridiculousness…however, don’t we all know someone without a lick of common sense? This video points out the need for teaching our students how to solve real-world problems…not just ones where the answer is in the back of the book.
How have you grown this year?
Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!