Empowering the Classroom
Today, many teachers have shifted their instruction from stand and deliver to more interactive, engaging and participatory styles of teaching and learning. With 1:1 and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs, students have access to just about all known knowledge at their fingertips. These shifts are empowering the classroom, allowing students to take control of their learning and drive what learning looks like for them.
When we empower the classroom, we will face many challenges that need creative solutions. From providing more engaging content for students to diving into how students are learning and having them reflect on how they know what they know, we can leverage digital devices to have a true impact on learning.
It is clear that students want to be more engaged with their learning. If we look at the world in which they live, they are surrounded by screens, games, music and more. So why not take cues from their world and make the learning environment a bit more familiar to them? Using digital devices, students can watch videos, examine live Tweet streams, talk to experts via Hangouts or perform virtual experiments that would otherwise not be possible.
How Students Are Learning
The proliferation of tablets, mobile devices and laptops makes it easy to know what students know, the moment they know it. Formative assessments were an integral part of my classroom, offering insight into how well my instruction was working, long before an end-of-unit test. Now, digital tools like virtual polling, online sticky notes and others allow us not only to gauge understanding in the moment, but also to record that data easily and use it to make better decisions in our classrooms. We can see how student understanding changes over time with the click of a button and share that information with students so they better understand their learning, as well.
Reflections through Blogging
Since I started teaching, it was important to me to examine my teaching. I began to share these reflections for the whole world to see on my blog. Blogging allows me to think out loud with whoever will listen and get their feedback and wisdom.
Students benefit from this type of reflection, as well. Blogging in the classroom takes many forms—from the class blog maintained by the teacher, to the group blog where each student has an opportunity to contribute, to students having their own blogs to openly reflect on their learning. Teachers are seeing blogs as a way to encourage student conversation and to open a dialogue between learners.
These are exciting times to be in the classroom, whether that room is a physical space or in the cloud. When we power up the classroom with engaging content, meaningful assessments and reflections through blogging, we can truly leverage the digital tools at hand to create innovative and creative learning spaces.