Innovation in K12 education is about shifting our practice from a rigid, proscribed one-size-fits-all-every-year model to one that is more adaptable, flexible, and relevant to student interests and passions. As you think about the coming school year, here are two simple guides via @Edutopia to help shift your classroom practice towards a deeper learning student experience:
The first article via Heather Wolpert-Gawron focuses on the simple Dewey-inspired understanding that great learning comes from experience, engagement, and passion. After hundreds of classroom observations, I believe the easiest and most direct indicator of deeper learning is student engagement. I don’t worry about objective measures of student engagement; it is easy to see. Students sitting at their desks for long periods of time, completing worksheets, raising their hands to answer questions, quietly following teacher directions: these result in low levels of engagement. Try implementing some of the suggestions in this blog; you class will be a bit noisier and messier this year, but your students are going to want to learn.
The second article via Suzie Boss offers a few simple ideas about how to turn your current curriculum units into deeper learning experiences. Suzie suggests that teachers don’t need to have every step of a unit crafted in advance; that flexibility leads to opportunities for deeper learning as students help craft their own learning pathways. By including more student voice and connecting the content material to real-world problems and experts outside the classroom, what has been mundane in the past can become more relevant and memorable for the students.
See, innovation is not hard!