Future of Education

What do we mean by the “21st century classroom?”

The 21st century classroom reflects the growth and changes we have seen in a society.  This modern classroom should be an open environment with a positive learning atmosphere that best allows students to thrive.  This classroom needs to be receptive to different learning styles and teaching styles.  The 21st century classroom utilizes technology in a helpful way to assist the teacher and the students grow as learners. Because our world is constantly changing and is increasingly digital, it is necessary to equip students with the tools needed to be diligent and understanding in society.  This classroom can have the ability to learn virtually and be able to view and interact with sites, resources, and people.  This classroom can be a wealth of information and a global learning environment.  The 21st century classroom, I believe, doesn’t fully exist yet because not all students have the opportunity to benefit from this idea.  Once all students have an equal footing going into school and receive equal benefits in the classroom, the 21st century classroom can exist

How do we apply technology tools in ways so that we can more easily achieve meaningful teaching and learning in the 21st century?

We can apply technology in our classrooms meaningfully if we teach it to be a tool as well as the privilege it is.  We, as teachers, need to strive to ensure that all students have the access to equal learning opportunities.  By making sure there are plenty of opportunities within the classroom for practice and experience with technology, we can ensure that students who lack these materials at home are still gaining a meaningful learning experience.  Also by having resources available for borrowing (although this is dependent on the school board/district) would help students practice on their own.  We can also apply technology tools to invite experts into our classroom via Skype to make real world connections (aka answering the age old question of “when am I ever going to need this after I graduate?”) and interact with other students, teachers, and experts through social media. Encouraging student use of online databases and other resources can allow students to interact with the subject and be able to see primary documents/sources that previously were only housed in a library or museum. Using technology in the classroom can increase the levels of thinking and understanding for students, as well as help students with disabilities.

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#WitW Twitter Chat

I participated in a twitter chat recently. At first I was hesitant because I don’t normally use twitter in that way, but I found it to be a really great experience! I was going to participate in the #histed twitter chat, however when I was on my twitter reading some articles I stumbled across a chat through Women in the World (@WomeninWorld), a feminist site dedicated to advancing women and girls by providing news on topics of interest and importance. This chat was led by Amanda Ripley (@amandaripley), an author and contributor to TIME Magazine and The Atlantic. The topic was on women and education, including discussing children’s learning strategies, ways to boost STEM skills, helping teachers become more confident, and encouraging parental involvement and engagement. When I saw the tweets begin, I had to hop in because of how interesting and personal this topic is to me.

I spent some time observing the Q&A session between the WitW twitter and Ms. Ripley so that I could learn what types of questions she was being asked and how to respond and comment on them. The tweets were coming very fast, and the 140 character limit broke up several of her answers so I had to refresh my page frequently to get the whole response! I was very interested by what Ms. Ripley was saying in her answers, because she was calling for gender equality in teaching and improved support systems for teachers; both of which I agree with. Once I began participating and asking questions, I found it easier to interact with the other participants and Ms. Ripley. Ms. Ripley and I had a chain of tweets after I asked about how to increase the teaching of women’s history, since history taught in our schools is dominantly male and white. We also discussed parental involvement and how early engagement helps student development-I agreed with her point, since my mom always read to me growing up and it helped to develop our relationship and a love of reading. She was very responsive to people replying to her comments and provided many new ideas I would love to continue to discuss.

There were many topics going on at once, and sometimes tweets would show up out of order, which made it more difficult to read. It forced me to pay attention to the conversation at hand which allowed me to develop my comments. It was exciting to watch the notifications pop up when someone retweeted, favorited, or replyed to one of my tweets. I was also retweeted a few times by the Women in the World twitter, which has almost 57,000 followers! The community was very open and willing to discuss, which is not something I have frequently come across in social media.

The next time I participate in a twitter chat, I would probably use a different device. I was on my iPhone, which worked, however it drained my battery and the text was very small. This is a very easy fix. I will have to keep an eye out for future #witwchat tweets, because I really enjoyed the conversation. It felt very personal and easy to reach out to the other participants.

I recently watched a TED talk by Jose Antonio Abreu.  His talk was titled The El Sistema Music Revolution.  I was initially drawn in by the title of the piece.  I, like many others, benefited greatly from music education during my time in public schools and at my liberal arts college.  While I did not major in music, it had a huge impact on my life.  Several of my friends are in their student teaching seminar for K-12 music education so I have heard a lot about music education, especially in my home state of PA.

Abreu, a music educator from Venezuela, tells his story about how he founded a youth orchestra and choir for children in his home country.  His goal was to give the gift of music to all children, not just the elite classes.  He talks about the benefits of music education for these children; in growing their confidence and skill and also giving them a place to learn safely. Abreu states that the orchestra and choir is more than just an artistic ensemble, it is a school and a social gathering.  Students are able to work together to create an excellent product, one which gains them recognition and pride.  By teaching music, he is teaching structure and co-dependence.  He notes the success of the orchestra, which has produced several world-famous musicians and conductors. The success of the orchestra’s alumni provide extra motivation and inspiration for the current members. The orchestra, he says, is a program of social rescue for the children of the lower and middle classes, and is a form of cultural development for the state. 

He speaks about how music can uplift society and trains students to be leaders in the communities Music helps these students to feel like they are somebody; he states that the most devastating part of poverty is not the lack of bread but the lack of self-confidence. Music helps these children believe in themselves and believe that they can do anything. Abreu states that in order to stop the spiritual crisis historian Arthur Toynbee wrote about, the arts must be supported. His hope is for a continued open discussion on new topics, like the TED talks provide, but also to challenge the world to provide the arts and music as a way to help the lower classes and develop communities and build stronger futures.

Gustavo Dudamel, alum of El Sistema, conducting the orchestra that gave him his start. He is now currently the conductor and music director of the Los Angelos Philharmonic,

http://www.ted.com/playlists/124/ken_robinson_10_talks_on_educ

 

Questioning Students

I read a series of articles all relating to creativity in the classroom and student involvement/questioning. I think that it is important for teachers to remember that school is supposed to benefit the student and help them become leaders and learners.

Warren Berger’s article serves to explain why we need to be teaching students to question. I was the annoying student in school with my hand in the air constantly because I wanted to know more or had a question. There were many times when my fellow students and the teacher would give up and ignore my questions becauses there wasn’t enough time or energy to give to more instruction. Berger agrees that students aren’t getting the opportunity to question in classes because teachers aren’t allowing for extra time and there is no teaching or encouraging of questions in class

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/03/why-its-imperative-to-teach-students-how-to-question-as-the-ultimate-survival-skill/

This next article focused on how many different factors led to educational competency. Student questioning fit into several catagories, including strategic skill and individual excellence. While used as hiring factors at major companies including Microsoft, these can also be applied to the classroom. It is important to remember that there are many factors and points relating to the success of our students.

http://paitken.edublogs.org/2010/09/03/education-competencies-brought-to-you-by-microsoft/

Doug Johnson examines ways to increase creativity in the classroom. He focuses on the teacher’s initiative to promote creativity, saying that creativity is a mind set that needs to be cultivated. I would agree with him. Creativity cannot just be expected, it needs to be nurtured. By creating a classroom that promotes creativity in assignments, students are able to freely examine what they like and how they like to learn. This creates a classroom of autonomous learners who will be able to work independently and together on assignments.

http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2014/3/10/18-ways-to-promote-creativity-in-your-classroom-everyday.html

Kath Murdock examines how inquiry teachers learn, plan, and teach. Inquiry teaching allows her to talk less, listen more, and create a classroom that has student imput and examination. It is important to incorperate this type of teaching stratagy into the classroom, however I still believe that there needs to be structure in place. Inquiry teaching allows for students to question and think critically, which is imporant to their learning needs and development.

http://inquiryblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/how-do-inquiry-teachers-teach-2/

Tina Barseghain examines the three trends that will define the future of teaching. These are collaboration, technology, and blending. She uses these three to explain the future of teaching and learning because they are more focused on the people involved, the students and the teachers. Collaboration allows teachers to work together and gain more resources. Technology allows teachers to access more than their district can provide and allows students to access material and information from around the world. Blending combines traditional learning with computer learning. These all are meant to provide students and teachers with a stronger connection to learning and allow them to grow and discover.

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/02/three-trends-that-define-the-future-of-teaching-and-learning/

I think that it is important to have students grow and question. Questioning can create wonderful lasting discussion topics as well as help students learn and understand. Various forms of technology can help teachers and students to develop stronger questioning techniques as well as connections. What forms of technology do you use to connect? How can these be helpful in the classroom?

Welcome to my professional education blog.  I will be posting content related to the 21st century classroom.  I hope you enjoy!