Who am I? A passionate teacher like YOU! I am based in the north-east of Italy, namely in Pordenone and I teach English as a Foreign Language and Literatures in English in a secondary school (my students range from 14-year-olds to 19-year-olds). I am eager to learn, I do believe in life-long learning, I love creativity (I try to teach creative writing too), I long for finding more free time to read (do not always succeed, though, since the load of work I am confronted with every day is getting really unbearable), I try to promote reading for pleasure among my students. I am also a teacher trainer and I love this aspects of my professional career, because working with teachers-to-be makes me feel less lonely. I cannot possibly say that at school I receive the support of either my headmaster or of my colleagues. No team work at all, this is the bleak reality I must face. I cannot blame my colleagues for this. The educational system is not fair and the demands on some teachers are too many. As a teacher of English I teach 6 classes and the average number of students is 25!
Why am I doing this course? Because I feel the urge to learn more about the use of technology in my classes. I do run a blog (www.cristiana.ziraldo.altervista.org), but there are so many aspect in the field of implementation of technology at school that I am lagging behind. The only downside to the above is that I do not always have the time to write new posts for the blog, I do not always have the time to "edit" the things my students do to share them with other colleagues. Juggling preparing classes, marking and creating new materials for the blog is getting more and more difficult for me. Not because of lack of will (quite the contrary), but because of lack of time. As a matter of fact I fear I won't be able to finish this course either! If you are reading this "teacher's log of mine" then it means I have been able to get to the end of the course.
Module 1: Why should we change our current practices? How should we change our practices and classrooms?
The video provides us with the first answer: students learn differently, the world has changed and requires different skills from them, so we must adapt to these changes. Yet, we should NEVER ever lose sight of the implementation of "the humanistic approach" in the use of technology. Then we should bear in mind that technology is not the end, but just a means to achieve important goals. The second answer is that we must give our students more opportunities for self-expression, personal choices. They should be able to take full responsability for their own learning and take their future in their hands. In Italy there is a huge obstacle, though, and unfortunately I am obliged to compromise because of this. Students cannot choose their own subjects and the subjects they must study (compulsory) are many. This gives me very little time (for example). I have just three hours a week and carrying out projects in class is not always feasible.
I try to promote student-centred learning, but I cannot meet all the 4 points for the reasons I expounded about. I operate in a system that does not allow me to implement all the features of student-centred learning. Deirdre Butler is certainly rights when she says that we need to RE-EXAMINE the way our students learn and thus the way we should teach. Power dynamics should change: who decides what should be learnt/taught? Students should be given more power of choice. On the same wavelength is Bart Verswijvel, Pedagogical Advisor at European Schoolnet, who emphasises that the "grid classroom" replicates the way workers used to work in factories. We need more flexibility, we need more activities led by students, who should choose their audience and their goals. Students should be allowed to bring their own devices (BYOD) and do activities out of school: I do this because I try to use the flipped classroom approach whenever possible. Students must take OWNERSHIP of learning and they should learn the value and necessity of LIFE-LONG LEARNING.
I want to share this video with you because I think that Portfolio Defence encapsulates many of the principles highlighted so far by the materials we have been asked to peruse and take in.
21st Century Skills
Roger Blamire, Senior Advisor to European Schoolnet: he points out the difference between skills (ability to do something) and competences (knowledge, skills, attitude and values). He points out the EU Key Competences: communication in one's mother tongue, foreign languages, digital skills, literacy, and basic skills in maths and science, as well as horizontal skills such as learning to learn, social and civic responsibility, initiative and entrepreneurship, cultural awareness, and creativity. CREATIVITY, COMMUNICATION, COLLABORATION, DIGITAL COMPETENCES, CRITICAL THINKING, PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY (Learning to learn, relection on your learning that is metacognition, self-actualisation, citizenship), ASSESSMENT ("To test and show how much an individual has contributed to a collective effort is far more difficult, but it is a challenge we need to meet") . These skills are meant both for students and teachers.
The Classroom of the Future : Present Zone (Text materials, Audio and Video, Art, etc. are presented to the students); Investigation Zone; Creation Zone (student present their final product), Exchange Zone (students work together while investigating, creating and presenting), Interact Zone (teacher-led activities), Develop Zone (independent learning). All these zones meet different learning styles, involve teachers and students more, promote the fun of learning. Could you organize your classroom around learning zones? If not, why not? How would you organize learning in the Future Classroom Lab? Which zones would you focus on or start out with? I would love to organize my classroom around learning zones, but I would need to have fewer classes (fewer students: now I teach almost 180 students every week) and new schools should be built, since the ones we have in Italy do not have classrooms with large spaces. So for Italy is pretty futuristic, yet the principles underpinning learning zones can be implemented. I would start from the Interact Zone just because the teacher needs to make it clear what outcome the students must achieve and thus s/he must give some clear guidelines with a checklist and assessment grid, so that the students knwo where to head and what criteria to meet in order to achieve certain results. Then I would leave my students free in their organization and thus in the zones to choose.
What are the changes that I envision for my teaching environment to support students develop skills for their future? Larger use of technology, more effective and advanced pedagogical appraoches, use of engaging and relevant activities for the learners, inclusion of 21st century skills, informal learning ("show and tell" events at school where students can introduce other students to their passions; outdoor study projects), more group-learning activities (collaborative problem-based activity)
Education is not Indoctrination it is: Enquire, Create, Understand, Quest for Understanding, How to learn on your own
To design a new classroom scenario and thus to partake in the development of new steps to take to empower our students' effective learning, we need to take into consideration stakeholders and trends. Firstly: Who are the people you need to talk to in order to see your changes implemented? Whose support do you need to reach your objectives? Secondly: By observing your students work you can spot some trends that can prompt in you the need to introduce some changed in your teaching approach. https://www.english.com/blog/education-trends
What is your vision for the classroom of 2025? Identify some current education and technology trends that you believe will shape the future classroom.
The classroom must be a social place where you learn with and from your peers. Students should direct their own learning. Learning outside, Learning in Teams, Teachers as Mentors and Coaches, The Classroom will also be in the Cloud, Students DO things orchestrated by the Teacher, the teacher supporting, Students learning from other students, all in all a more dynamic social aspect in the field of learning
Which educational trends do you think will have the greatest impact on our teaching in the future? A: Learning materials: shift from textbooks to web resources and open resource books. B: Cloud Based Learning: data, tools, software is all online and can be reached and modified from different devices.
Think a bit more in-depth about the strategies we can use to help our students to become life-long learners. Off the top of my head I would say that students need to be infused with passion, with the desire to investigate. Then they need to learn the pleasure of "hard work" to achieve important results. On top of that they need to take responsibility for their own learning from the very beginning of their educational career. I read some articles on line and these are the qualities a student need to have to become a life-long learner: ACTIVE INVESTIGATOR (You need to teach your students to initiate questions or hypothesis about a particular topic); CRITICAL THINKER; SELF-DIRECTED LEARNER (help your students plan and organize their own thinking, make them consider their learning styles, their prior knowledge, and their strengths and weaknesses); EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR. It is mandatory that we give our students learning experiences that deal with real world scenarios if we want to promote life-long learning in them and this is done through projects (project-based learning).
From vision to reality: Technology in your future classroom
How do you currently use technology? To prepare classes? For administrative work? Do students use technology in class to personalise their learning? Working collaboratively and being creative are two key 21st century skills. Do you promote them in class? If so what technologies do you use to support and develop them? How much innovation is there in my school? In my teaching? The Innovation Maturity Model is a framework created to measure the level of innovation in a learning environment. This model looks at the very different levels of maturity in the use of technology in schools. Is technology being used effectively to support learners? I think that my teaching swings from stage 2 (enrich), to stage 3 (enhance) to stage 4 (extend), stage 5 (empower) on the basis of what I ask my students to do. There are projects where students need to create their own digital products to become teachers themselves and present the results of their investigation in class to the other students. They choose the application they want to use, they choose who they want to work with, they choose the topic of investigation (among an array given by the teacher on the basis of the syllabus). As a teacher I create a learning path on the class blog, I provide them with guidelines and assessment criteria (the feedback sheet and assessment grid help them understand what they need to aim at to achieve the result they want to get). This is an instance of project-based learning where students are asked to use their creativity and communication skills. Unfortunately the Italian educational system (though I think it works well in many fields) lack the flexibility of choice and most schools lack equipment and the flexibility of learning spaces. To remain afloat in this context and to yet make the possible to make my students become life-long learners, I guarantee my classes a project every term (so two projects over a school year), as being a language teacher I need to work on aspects that require "formal input" too.
Effective collaboration is in fact much harder to achieve than simply asking students to work together! Are students required to share responsibility and make substantive decisions with other people? Is their work interdepend? Students work together when the activity requires them to work in pairs or groups to: discuss an issue; solve a problem; create a product.
Students have shared responsibility when they work in pairs or groups to develop a common product, design, or response. Shared responsibility is more than simply helping each other: students must collectively own the work and be mutually responsible for its outcome.
Students make substantive decisions together when they must resolve important issues that will guide their work together. Substantive decisions are decisions that shape the content, process, OR product of students’ work.
Students’ work is interdependent when all students must participate in order for the team to succeed. Too often, a group of students may share responsibility for an outcome, but in practice the work is not divided fairly. To meet this criterion, students must be required to produce an interdependent product (such as a presentation that they each must share in developing and presenting) or other interdependent outcome (such as a decision that requires information that is distributed across students).
Augmented Reality: Aurasma
Learning activities are activities designed or deployed by the teacher to bring about, or create the conditions for learning. The difference between a Learning by Design approach to employing various learning activities and other approaches to teaching relates to the pedagogical character or focal intent of the activities selected. What do I want to achieve with this activity? How will I achieve my aims? Which Knowledge Process is best suited to achieving my aim? With Learning by Design the teacher chooses particular learning activities based on which Knowledge Process is activated by that activity. Some learning activities stimulate experiential learning, others mobilise conceptual thinking, while still others prompt students to engage in analytical discussion. Look at this slideshare to get a fuller grasp of the meaning of a learning activity.
The Edukata facilitator guide book gives an overview of the Edukata design model and practical advice on organizing a design workshops with a group of people.
What are the factors that promote the transformation of teaching practices? How can we measure the impact those changes have on students’ learning outcome? How do you integrate 21st century skills in your own teaching?
21st century learning design is a global professional development program for teachers and schools to develop more innovative pedagogies that develop students skills for the 21st Century. The program is sponsored globally by Microsoft and is supported in each country by a network of education partners. 21st century learning design requires that educators be active and engaged knowledge-builders, adopting and using the very skills they are seeking to instill in their students: collaboration, knowledge-building, self-regulation and assessment (or learning to learn) and use of technology for learning. Through the program, teachers become learners of their own teaching practices by studying the impact of their teaching on students.
Six rubrics of 21st century learning, each of which represents an important skill for students for develop: collaboration; knowledge construction; self-regulation; real-world problem-solving and innovation; the use of ICT for learning; skilled communication.
Self-regulated learning is a cyclical process, wherein the student plans for a task, monitors their performance, and then reflects on the outcome. The cycle then repeats as the student uses the reflection to adjust and prepare for the next task. The process is not one-size-fits-all; it should be tailored for individual students and for specific learning tasks (Zimmerman, 2002). The figure below illustrates the key steps of the process. These steps are performed by the student, but instructors play a vital role in guiding and coaching students through each step.
"The knowledge construction process relates to the extent to which teachers help students to understand, investigate, and determine how the implicit cultural assumptions, frames of references, perspectives, and biases within a discipline influence the ways in which knowledge is constructed within it" (Banks, An introduction to multicultural education, 2002, p. 14).
Are students required to share responsibility and make substantive decisions with other people? Is their work interdependent?
Are students required to construct and apply knowledge? Is that knowledge interdisciplinary?
Does the learning activity require solving authentic, real-world problems? Are students’ solutions implemented in the real world?
Are students passive consumers of ICT, active users, or designers of an ICT product for an authentic audience?
Is the learning activity long-term? Do students plan and assess their own work, and revise their work based on feedback?
Are students required to communicate their own ideas regarding a concept or issue? Must their communication be supported with evidence and designed with a particular audience in mind?
DREAM activity: students come up with an initial idea to design some product (dream up a design or a video); EXPLORE activity: students carry out a research on a specific topic, they look at examples of other videos so that they can develop ideas of their own; MAP activity: students create a mindmap to organize their ideas about the content and the video and create story boards for the video dialogues and scenes; REFLECT activity: students think and record the progress they have made throughout the activity; ASK and COLLABORATE activity: students seek outside help; MAKE activity: the production of the product the students have designed; SHOW activity: the students publish or present their work.