Wednesday, March 20, 2013

21st Century Learning: Tools, Content and Processes?

It's that time of year when colleagues and I are assessing our efforts and programs.  As we watch students prep for State tests, we're thinking about the strategies employed throughout the year to ready our students for tests (yes) and for life long learning.  We want to do both.

Hence, what worked and where is there room for further growth?  What tools, processes and efforts will move our students further with regard to engaging learning and yes, doing well on assessments too?

As we think about this, we are considering the following:
  • PARCC: At this time our State has not officially signed on, but we know a shift to this testing is possible.  Today I was reading about the minimum tech requirements for this test which leads me to think about what tools will help students write with the greatest ease, voice, organization and craft?  What would you choose?  Personally, I like writing and creating with my laptop, and find it hard to create and write as quickly or as well with an iPad, but I'm only one person and I've read of many successes with iPads--what would you choose?  What's your writing tool of choice, and what tool will support young children best when it comes to writing well?
  • Digital Stories: Our work with digital stories gave students' voice this year. These projects seemed to build greater fluency and voice with regard to reading and writing well.  I will also add that this project seemed to grow tech skills, creativity and confidence too.
  • Curriculum Mapping: What is the best roll out for our writing program?  That will be a collaborative decision based on new standards, current units, and students' needs. 
  • Expert Visitors and Cultural Enrichment: What kinds of special events, experts and professional development will develop our work?
  • Learning Flexibility and Fluidity: What tools will we employ to develop executive functioning, brain strength, flexibility and learning engagement? What projects will we develop and implement with this in mind?
  • Schedule and Organization: How will we schedule the day, week and year so that we teach essential skills, engage students and respond to interests and passions?
  • What worked this year? Literacy studio, RTI, PLCs and One-hour Math all served our students well.  Also an increased focus on a blended learning environment created engagement and learning success.  While students enjoyed our social studies/science rotations, it seemed like we could add greater depth and also respond to new science standards in this regard with project/problem based, tech integrated teaching/learning modules. That's something we'll be discussing. 
As we continue to think about this, I'm curious about what your teaching/learning team is thinking about with regard to program growth and development?  What tools will you access to ready your students for tests, and more importantly provide your students with a rich blended environment for learning?  How will you develop programs related to reading, writing, math, science and social studies?  Where will you foster interdisciplinary project/problem base learning, nature study and exploration, STEAM, RTI and tech integration in your overall blended learning program? 

There is a lot to think about as we develop learning programs today, and as we begin to write pilots, grants and plans as well as order materials for the year to come. I welcome your thoughts and ideas with this in mind.