Simply allowing students to connect is only the beginning – Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design.
A theme inherent in this week’s reading is the idea that change has happened and is happening, irrevocably. Our lives are increasingly online, interwoven and interdependent. We rely on technology for so much, and more. As this is now an almost unavoidable constituent of everyday life; a crucial challenge for education is how to harness modern forms of interactivity, self-expression and creativity.
Yet, what is becoming increasingly obvious is that schools and the strict use of classic curriculum styles do not fit in with this present-day reality.
If change is inevitable, with online and technological advances being subsumed into our teaching, we must help our children to make the very most of the wonderful array of tools that are at their disposal. We must help them to learn the most that they possibly can online. We must help them to shift culturally and in terms of mindset, from the education style of the old to the new.
As will become apparent, the changes that I made are not new, nor are they based on technology. But they are all directly geared towards readying the children for the world outside the classroom walls. All to change the way that they think and approach different situations. It is clear to me that we must start from the very basics, in order to positively influence the culture of each school day and consequently their mindsets for learning online.
With a strong foundation, the hope is that then the children can enter the online world as learners who are able to support each other, acquire knowledge autonomously, innovate and think critically.
I made the following changes to push towards these aims…
- Children developed their own positive class rules, therefore owning their behaviour choices.
- Displays are created by the children, with only a small selection of prompts pre-prepared, so that they can be in charge of their environment.
- Every child in the class has a job to do, from taking the register to handing out books, giving them a sense of autonomy and leadership.
- Resources, such as practical equipment for Mathematics, are readily available so that the children can serve themselves.
- All have access to a ‘Wonder Shelf‘ where the children can store objects that make them wonder, even including objects from home which they can share.
- The classroom is divided into different ‘zones’, from a group reading area to an area for quiet reflection, so that the children can adapt to different styles of working.
- A designated time in the day for ‘show and tell’, to push the children to develop interests and share those interests with others.
- A few minutes each day, devoted to mindfulness and quiet reflection. We use the channel ‘Flow’ on the site GoNoodle, and discuss the importance of finding a few moments for quiet in our busy and fast flowing world. This video sums it up perfectly…
- If the children are stuck on a challenge, they ‘ask 3 before me’, enhancing peer support.
- Regular self and peer evaluations, free from rubrics, to help the children to learn to evaluate and reflect.
- Free choice options in homework, such as additional challenges or self-directed study.
- Lessons hooked around an inquiry question or problem to enhance the use of meaningful decision making.
- ‘Guided Reading’ as ‘Reciprocal Reading’, where the roles and thoughts are entirely directed by the children.
It is our job as teachers to set up our children to succeed, not in terms of passing tests or achieving the highest rung on the rubric, but rather to become connected collaborators who operate positively in a world made up of online networks and communities. With this grounding in positive learning behaviour, the hope is that the children can autonomously learn as much as they possibly can and help others to do so in the process.
Let’s not only help them to connect, but connect effectively – Connected Learning Report.