Iâ€™ve been thinking about where Iâ€™m finding my best support for my own learning these days. While Iâ€™ve been going to my Twitter network and saving links, resources, and graphics to help me plan a new technology integration course for teachers, Iâ€™ve found that itâ€™s actually my community of inquiry within Powerful Learning Practice that has lead me to the deepest learning. I think I owe it to my learners to help them understand that while Twitter networks might lead them to incredible contacts and resources, our classroom community will be where they can get down and dirty with some really messy learning.
Without the advantage of lots of experience, newer teachers struggle with curriculum pacing, instructional and behavior management, and knowing how to keep ever-increasing numbers of students learning in small classroom spaces. Experienced teachers have these basics mastered and are ready to tackle the challenges of experimenting with all kinds of new instructional toolsâ€¦including new technology.
They first learned to own the learning, and now I see a second big change in the way my students perceive learning and school. They are willing to experiment with how to organize themselves and to evaluate if it worked or not. Owning the learning AND owning the learning environment are two separate things. I believe having both perceptions in play is essential for students to maximize the learning potential.
One of the most important things we can do is teach our students how to use social media wisely, and how social media can be used for social good. In grade 11 English this semester, we’ve chosen to create a social media campaign to raise awareness around modern slavery. It’s not enough for my students to learn about slavery, they need to do something with it, specifically “real world” projects that matter.
I teach in an inquiry, project-based, technology embedded classroom. What does that mean? I lecture less, and my students explore more. I create a classroom where students encounter concepts, via labs and other methods, before they necessarily understand all the specifics of what is happening. It’s a place where my students spend time piecing together what they have learned, critically evaluating its larger purpose, and reflecting on their own learning. Technology is embedded into the structure of all we do. It’s part of how we research, how we capture information, and how we display our learning. It’s never an accessory tacked on at the end.