Thursday, June 20, 2013

A New Culture of Learning

In this post, I am going to focus on one of the first few sentences of Thomas and Brown's book, A New Culture of Learning. The authors state, "In our view, the kind of learning that will define the twenty-first century is not taking place in a classroom - at least not in today's classroom. Rather, it is happening all around us, everywhere, and it is powerful." (p. 17) Tony Wagner, author of Creating Innovators, says that knowledge is a commodity (yep! mass-produced). Knowledge or at least information is easily and instantly available these days (i.e. the growing world wide web access, a plethora of informative television channels, and the ability to connect with people around the world - nearly instantly).

When I was in the classroom, the textbook and teacher's manual was the sole keeper of knowledge.  I would take my teacher's manual and a student textbook home and study both of them to make sure I disseminated accurate information to my students. I would practice the problems and answer the questions myself so that I knew what I was talking about. Of course, I always had to throw in the Mr. "H" twist with technology, creativity, and humor, etc...  Later, a CD came with the series that helped me disseminate the information.  Next, a website was provided that gave us more ways to access the information in the textbook.

Today, information is updated so fast that textbooks and teacher's manuals cannot possibly keep up.  The information is now accessible by students and their parents easily and instantly.  What these resources (textbooks and teacher's manuals) do somewhat provide are the skills and strategies that students can use to apply information and technology in effective and practical ways. For example, close reading (not "cloze" reading) is a skill that is being emphasized with the Common Core Standards. This very well could be a strategy that is taught using a reading instructional series.  Well shucks, I just found out that this can be accessed via the Internet as well:

Thinking Notes: A Strategy to Encourage Close Reading

Our role as educators is to present a problem and or project that is interesting to our students, provide the needed resources and or technology for them to "problem solve," and to facilitate their learning in conjunction with the Common Core Standards.  A good educator will design a unit, lesson, or project keeping the end in mind.  Good educators ask themselves; What is it that I want my students to be able to do or learn? Then design the learning experience to answer that question.   

Today's educator is a facilitator (one who brings about an outcome). Yes, that means that we still must be smarter than our students. We must think about what we (as educators) want our students or followers to be able to do or learn. Yes, I believe that there is a difference. To learn means to gain knowledge or understanding of something. To "apply (or do)" means to put something to use for a practical purpose. As we design lessons, units, and or projects, we must make sure that what we ask students to do meets their interests, needs, and passions. The way we teach is changing rapidly and the students we are educating believe it or not are going to be creating the future. Are you ready?

Click Picture to View Corning's Video

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