Friday, February 3, 2012

Shifting Sands: Teaching Practice

Looking over the New Media Consortium 10 Megatrends announced this week, #9 jumped out …

There is a rise in informal learning as individual needs are redefining schools, universities, and training.  Tradition authority is increasingly being challenged, not only politically and socially, but also in academia – and worldwide.  As a result, credibility, validity and control are all notions that are no longer givens when so much learning takes place outside school systems.” (A Communique from the Horizon Project Retreat, 2012)

This is the shift occurring in teaching practice.  The teacher is no longer the giver of knowledge.  The teacher can facilitate, guide and navigate… but (as the article says) credibility, validity and control are up for grabs.  So how does this effect classroom practice?

1.       Student-led inquiry is in.  Offer challenging prompts and engage students in Chalktalks, Blogs and Discussion Boards, Writer’s Workshops (pencils allowed), small group discussions, projects and labs. Try a flipped classroom or lesson where students use class time to experience knowledge and practice new skills with you the teacher present. 

·       Hour lectures to impart THE KNOWLEDGE are over. Yes, some direct instruction may be needed to reinforce key concepts but really...keep at a minimum.

2.      Assessments highlighting reason, collaboration, synthesis and personal voice which are part of the learning process are in.  Check out Universal Design for Learning Resource Library and explore Jay McTighe's formative assessments as learning.

·         Multiple choice tests as solo assessment practice are out.  Just saying.

3.      Rethink homework.  Much like assessments reflect on why you give homework. Homework should build on learning objectives introduced in classroom.  Or better yet, let homework be the introduction (vodcast, reading, researching) and class time focus on guided experience and practice.

·         Packets full of skill and drill worksheets are out.  If it still smells like the mimeograph it's time to put away.

4.      Bring Your Own… is in.  Share the limelight!  Encourage students to bring devices and resources to class.  Not only will students be more engaged in classroom environment but they will experience that same sense of “expertness” that we teachers love (thus the proclivity of the hour long lecture)… Let students experience the “light bulb” effect that happens when they help each other make the connections.

·         Banning mobile devices, streaming video, e-Books and dare I say Social Media  in schools is out.  Really, enforcement is impossible and you’re just teaching students that access to information is forbidden and therefore cool to use in adolescent rebellion.

5.      Have clear expectations!  All the above does not mean your classroom is the reincarnation of the Wild West.  Every community shares practices of ethics and behavior where members feel safe.   

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