Based on reading the NAIS report, do you think our instructional process needs to change or adapt, and if so, in what directions?
In considering this question, it may be helpful to see some videos that demonstrate new types of instructional practice...
1. Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are the set of connections that help a person learn and communicate with others. This video describes a student's experience building and using a PLN for a particular project.
2. "Hybrid Learning" is when part of the instruction is online. This video shows several students' opinions on their hybrid learning experience.
3. Web-based tutorials: Salman Khan's "Khan Academy" is a free online set of hundreds of videos that teach elements of mathematics and other subjects bit by bit. In the video below, Mr. Khan explains how it works...
So... do you think our instructional process needs to change or adapt?
This PLN might be something for seniors and faculty to think about as the seniors design their Senior Spring Projects. For some students it might be a wonderful way to culminate their time at BB&N by exploring in depth and with a supportive faculty advisor/coach subjects for which they have developed a curiosity or a passion.
My opening comment here was actually cut off, and I was unable to edit it at the time. So here are a couple more thoughts. What I find exciting about the curriculum map for 21st century learning is that it accommodates constantly emerging technology. It’s not bound to specific media, sites or resources. We have to teach our students the research and critical thinking skills that they’ll be able to apply in this ever-changing digital world. At the middle school level, it’s as important for our digital native students to learn how to effectively navigate the vast quantity of information out there as it is for them to actually learn the facts themselves. All faculty have to collaborate to be successful. Any thoughts?
Beth's point about everyone being on board and bought in is a valid and important thing to remember. While both the readings and these above videos highlight the positive value (and need) for embracing a 21st Century approach, it is important to remember to do so in a structured and organized manner with guiding principles that the entire school community has invested in. Not only do faculty have to collaborate, but the technology goals need to be intertwined with our pedagogical goals on three different campuses and also in line with the school's mission. The learning curve is steep for everyone on this because it is changing everyday, but the stakes are high and as a school, it would be great if we could begin to formulate a 5 year BBN 21st Century school plan of goals/skills/etc as mentioned in the NAIS report. Right now, there are many teachers at BBN employed these skills and approaches, but we have yet to formulate a plan with guiding principles (but maybe it exists and I haven't read/seen it?).
Rather than using “ instructional process” that has a limiting role in education, I would rather use “learning or thinking process.” It is crucial that as educators we stay abreast of the latest findings in our fields. This is basic; one must go beyond the facts and the information that are easily accessible by everyone. What really matters is what the teacher & students do with this information. Guiding principles should be established so that the changes & adaptation that take place are for the overall well being of the student and for his preparation to meet the challenges of the future. And, although technology literacy is a must, it is only a tool and not a substitute for thinking. What we teach (content) should also be taught by how we teach (structure). We must know why we are teaching what and how we teach. Rightly so, Wagner’s survival skills also put things into perspective. It is important to know how to make the connection between learning and skill development, helping students to appreciate the difference between what they would like and what they need. Empowering students through getting them involved in relevant and meaningful projects is an essential part of learning. And this is not new. John Dewey was one of the pioneers of “learning by doing,” and engaging students as much as possible. It does not matter what tools or technological device is used as long as the change/adaptation reflects an increased level not merely of information and skills, but also of thinking and reflection.
I support Henri's notion that we think of this transition as a "learning process."
As Carol Davidson and David Goldberg state in their work, "The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age", when we consider change in the learning process, "we are making assumptions about the deep structure of learning, about cognition, about the way youth today learn about their world and about a dissonance between the excitement of informal learning and the routinization of learning in formal education." In simplest terms, they believe that we are not taking advantage of digital and participatory learning available now to our students. Fundamentally, I agree that we need to rethink the relationships between students and teachers. Our challenge--can we blend the appropriate content and adopt a more collective pedagogy to appropriately support the participatory learning methods that students today possess. Shouldn't we be focusing on "how learning happens today" and rethink methodologies to develop new learning practices?
It's important, too, for English teachers to realize that students need to be able to express themselves well digitally. That means that their critical thinking skills need to extend to their own digital projects. The more we do this in our curriculum, the better the student work is. Still, I find the the creation of the right balance between digital expression and traditional writing to be elusive. We're always wrestling with that issue.
I think like it is said on page 8 of the NAIS report that we need “educational disruption” in order to change our instruction process or how Christopher Dede puts it: “You can’t just sprinkle 21st century skills on the 20th century doughnut. It requires a fundamental re-conception of what we’re doing.” We are competing with a big world out there and if we want our students to acquire the necessary skills they’ll need in such a competitive world, we have to rise to the challenge. Instead of using technology as a tool, it needs to be integrated into the instruction, the curriculum, and the assessments in the school as a whole. In order to do that, we need to focus on learning rather than testing, a learning process that goes beyond the walls of the classroom and engages the student constantly and actively. We need to keep growing, challenging ourselves, getting out of our comfort zone and thinking outside the box. Ongoing commitment to professional development, experimenting and working as a team has to be a must. This journey will foster discipline, imagination, curiosity, creativity, collaboration, initiative, adaptability and leadership in both teachers and students.