Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The 21st Century Classroom--Apple to Apples

What do you think of when you think of a 21st Century Classroom? What does it look like, sound like, feel like? My mental image of a 21st Century Classroom is a place where there are tons of resources, tons of technology, there is always a chaotic-yet-somewhat-organized buzz of activity, students working by themselves or in groups, you can see the engagement in students' eyes, and you can feel the excitement encircling the learning space.

There are changes in the air! A symbol of teachers, teaching, and schools was once a shiny red apple. Now, I would argue, this symbol is exploding. We are looking at the "core" of the curriculum, what students need to know to be able to function in a 21st Century Society. We are including characteristics of effective instruction such as student-centered classrooms (students hold and eat the apple), teaching for understanding (apple trees and orchards), assessment for learning (formative assessment would be like checking the ingredients before making an apple pie), rigor and relevance (making an apple pie for the Salvation Army's Thanksgiving dinner), teaching for learner differences (recognizing the apple varieties and colors), and infusing technology (apple integeration from around the world at our fingertips). Will all of this be our Golden Apple? I don't think any of these characteristics will hurt anything, will help many students, but in all liklihood will still not reach each individual . . . because humans (and apples) are just not like that.

I have been reflecting on my classroom (library and computer classes for kindergarten through fourth grade students) and how I would rate the current state of my activities and curricula. I feel that I have a strong understanding of the characteristics of effective teaching and what a 21st Century Classroom should be like, but I'm not quite there. Using Principal Shawn
Holloway's (Manson Northwest Webster in NW, Iowa) Walkthrough form, I went through each area and item an commented on where I am at right now. Please look here to see my reflection: My pages are halfway down the document.

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