Sunday, June 9, 2013

Big Ideas Which Might Transform Education As We Know It!

As summer fast approaches, teachers might like to reflect on incorporating some new approaches to instructional delivery.  Spending a few days contemplating some changes in teaching techniques to involve more students at all ability levels is time well spent. 

Here are 10 big ideas which will transform education:

1.Project based learning offers students multiple opportunities to apply content studies to solving real world problems.  Collaboration is the key here.  Experience acquired within such settings prepares students for jobs in the global workforce where team approaches to solving problems.

2. Technology Integration must play a major part in the classroom.   For schools not to weave it into instruction is to do a major disservice to students.  After all, students of all ages are already fairly proficient in the use of technology through iPads, tablets, XBoxes, etc.  They are far more proficient in the use of social media than their teachers or parents are.  Not taking advantage of skills they already have keeps them at a distinct disadvantage with their global counterparts.

3.  Integrated studies allow students to see connections between content subjects.  Literacy will addressed in every classroom.  Further, through common core based lessons, every teacher will be developing literacy skills within his/her content areas.  Science teachers will address writing through lab reports, math teachers in navigating math word problems on real world applications, etc.  In addition, students will see how key academic vocabulary appears throughout every subject area.  Examples of such common academic vocabulary are words such as analyze, summarize, compare, define, etc.

4.  Cooperative learning will be present in every class since students must learn how to work within small groups as team members all trying to accomplish a common goal.  This is great preparation for life outside the classroom.

5.  Comprehensive assessment can no longer be based exclusively on multiple choice tests.  Instead, educational communities must evaluate student academic performance through different lenses in which a student's progress is measured in multiple areas.  Here the assessment offers a multi-level view of a student's strengths and weaknesses.

6.  Emotional intelligence presents itself in all of the group or partner activities.  To succeed here, students must know how to interact with peers in ways that promote cooperation and respect.  If students do not feel safe or if they feel threatened in any way, no learning occurs.

7.  Teacher preparation is needed.  However, for it to work, it should involve teachers in diagnosing what other teachers need and then finding sources within their own staff with sharp skills in teaching and the ability to share that knowledge with staff.  When professional development is generated by the staff for the staff, the buy-in is intense.

8.  Parent involvement is required regardless of the grade level.  With teachers and parents working as partners, students benefit. 

9.  Community partners from the employment sector can be quite inspirational for students.  Studying physics is one thing--occasionally a bit dull for many, but bring in an astrophysicist to show how s/he uses physics to capture asteroids and all eyes light up!

10. Maximizing resources is crucial for common core.  A textbook will no longer drive instruction.  Teachers will have far more freedom to fully engage students.  This will also dictate the necessity to build up resources students can use in completing academic tasks.  What can be used here?   Internet, field trip allowances, manipulatives, lab specimens, guest speakers, longer class periods, tutoring support for those students who need more time to process information, etc.  Teachers should create their lists and make their needs known as early as possible so that instruction does not suffer.

Summer is a great time to think about the new year!  With a plan in hand at the start of the new year, the more successful the start of the year for both teacher and students:)


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