Monday, August 11, 2014

Instructional Practice

Many times I think about what an ideal classroom looks like and what would students be working on in this learning environment?  I think back to when I was in the classroom and the transformation for web 1.0 to web 2.0.  For the record 1.0 web tools are linear, app based, isolated, singular and focused on copy right content and web 2.0 is a more fluid learning opportunity that is web based, collaborative work and shared content.

Real world examples...my first thought as a former avid gamer is the evolution of the game Zelda to World of Warcraft.  Zelda is a task by task game that is based on the designers of the game controlling the order we played the game at our house. Fast forward to the World of Warcraft where you create your character, decide the tasks that you want to play, join other people across the world on-line and is collaborative in nature.  Another example is the change in the stuffed animal to the Webkinz.  Children moved from playing with dolls in isolation or with one friend to moving to an online site where you can create your animal and play with others.

How does all of this apply to a school's learning environment?  In literacy we have seen the change from the basal readers reading together and having pre-created questions that are discussed as a whole class to guided reading groups that have leveled text written responses that are shared with the teacher or oral responses shared with the group.  The goal would be to expand that to sharing out within a collaborative school.  This can be done via a Voki or VoiceThread, students can write their information via a blog (EduBlog and Edmodo), or you can take a picture of the written responses and post them. It is important after this is posted that the students converse about their responses and have continued conversations about their responses and reflections. 

In math it is a move from rote numeration using apps or sites such as Pop Math to students' communication such as math talks and explanations both oral and written.  As mentioned by Tony Wagner "its not what you know, it's what you do with what you know".

Other suggestions for science and social studies include changing from students memorizing items such as information about North Carolina or landforms to utilizing project based learning and active learning working with teams.  Some of the best examples involve students creating essential questions and being given the opportunity to use these essential questions to create presentations and products within a student group.

We will need to continue to move our instructional practice and assignments to opportunities that require students to collaborate, communicate, problem solve and think critically. No easy task, but what in life comes easy?