The more I move into 21st century tools and teaching practices, the harder time I have with our current grading system. The more opportunity I give students to work collaboratively, experiment, and pursue their passions, the harder it is to assign grades to this kind of learning and growth. Our standard “letter grade” system does not encourage learning. It does not encourage students to challenge themselves. It does not encourage creativity or innovation. It encourages memorization, competition, and discovering the easiest path to an A. Does this seem right?
The Ning has connected our faculty in ways we never imagined. We wanted our teachers to connect and share, and share they did! As we got to know each other better, we began to feel a greater sense of community and common purpose. Our faculty can now easily collaborate on lesson plans and community service projects across divisions. They readily share ideas and resources. We now have a virtual community that parallels our physical community, and its powerful anytime-from-anywhere communications capabilities make us feel closer together than ever.
Is your school not a friendly place for 21st century learning? Don’t lose hope. Stand by your beliefs and remember that it is all about your students. Igniting their passions and teaching them to become connected learners is a gift that will serve them well, no matter what the future brings. Keep finding ways to let students drive their own learning through inquiry and problem solving. Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious, and you will be there to show them that the learning opportunities are limitless.
At some point this past school year, I began to truly understand how to change my teaching. The big revelation: It’s NOT about technology. It’s about learning. If we are “integrating technology” just to bring computers (or interactive whiteboards, or cell phones) into the classroom, we’ve got it all wrong. Just using the equipment — or the web tools it allows us to access – isn’t going to lead us or our students to truly connected learning.
VFLR blogger Patti Grayson has gone from Twitter novice to accomplished Twitter user in a year’s time. The big jump came earlier this summer, when she plumbed the depths of hashtagging and discovered the micro-blogging tool’s secret capacity to form meaningful professional communities — 140 characters at a time.