Project based learning in today’s classroom are necessary for learners to be engaged and motivated. Teachers have known for years that their classrooms are full of students that don’t learn the way the conventional system is set up. Slowly, some Districts are moving towards flexible seating in classrooms. The problem, as many teachers see it, is that with this more flexible learning environment there is a potential for a multitude of classroom management issues.
Curriculum and Environment
With a strong sense of routines and a set of expectations, I have found students have really grasped the notion that flexible seating is for comfort and to promote collaboration and deeper learning. With the change of environment must come a change in curriculum to allow students to delve deeper into their own learning. Independent and collaborative project based learning opportunities are important tools to increases student learning. Where are you right now in the change process?
A bigger question might be – how much do you know about your students’ passions and what strengths do you, as their teacher, bring to the classroom? Are you ready for some 21st century learning ideas? You bet you are!
I recently discovered this video as I like to look at the changing educational systems around the world and I thought it was quite timely. Many Districts have already moved towards modernizing their schools but there are still many classrooms that still function in a way that does not promote deeper learning.
Only desks, textbooks, standardized tests do not allow for student freedom in learning and differentiation. Take a look at this video by Next School and see if you recognize your own learning and/or that of our “modern” classrooms that really aren’t so modern. Districts and schools need to provide teachers with modern furniture and even professional development in order to transition schools to the modern world.
(Image source: Next School)
It’s pretty eye opening how much our world has changed and how slow the education world is to catch up. So many of us as teachers have yearned for these changes to project based learning and yet many teachers aren’t sure where to start.
Building From Teacher Strengths
I have asked some of my teacher friends what their teaching strengths are and I’m surprised how many look at me with a blank face and say – “I’ve never really thought of that before.” When I change the question to “What do you really like to teach?”, then I usually get a more spontaneous answer like: “Oh, I really like math”, or ” I was really good in reading when I was in school”.
When I started exploring my love for teaching writing literacy and incorporating mindfulness in to my lessons, it really was an awakening for me. It inspired so many unique lessons that I could differentiate depending on where my students were at. The same is true of most teachers. The idea sparks are within you, you just need to notice them and nurture them. Students are the beneficiaries when we do.
Resources to Help You Get Started
I’ve created several resources that are helping teachers around the world to move their classrooms, teaching and their students into the modern learning world.
I knew that in order to make some of these changes, these resources needed to be very teacher and student friendly. They also needed to promote deep learning. This would increase student understanding and achievement. It would also help them to experience and practice the skills needed in today’s world like communication, compassion, problem solving, critical thinking, self regulation and goal setting and personal and social responsibility. Students are young as 7 can learn these skills when taught explicitly and with scaffolded instruction.
Click on the images below to see more.
Genius Hour Interactive Notebook
This is the perfect starter set to get your students thinking about and self reflecting on their ideas and their passions.
It’s a step by step interactive notebook that explores WHO the child is and what they like.
After some consideration, students choose their project and the things they will need to help them learn more. (books, technology etc)
There is thought put into reflections and the learning journey.
Similar to the concept behind Genius Hour but with more of a primary focus. Students wonder about things that they like to do and come up with a project idea. There are ideas in this set to have a “kick off” party and to create what I call “passion pockets” to store all of the things they are using to work on their projects. This is a great example of the 21st Century learning focus.
Real Life Learning Series: Think Like a…Poster Set
This set of posters will help you to link student learning to REAL LIFE examples to help your lessons become more meaningful to students. Students start seeing themselves like “real people” as they explore careers and the skills they need to become that person. These jobs are more than community helpers and value all kinds of interests and talents. This helps you to help your students focus on 21st century learning through real life skills.
Wonder, Design and Make
I wanted to create a resource to help teachers to begin thinking about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). This set is generic enough to use with many different levels of students and provides a simple format to introduce Project Based Learning for the first time. This set comes with “idea sparks” and real life pictures to promote wonder in your students. Students are already wondering about 21st century learning and this gives them the platform to move them forward.
Student Interest Survey
This resource will help your students identify things that interest them in today’s world. Topics include literacy, technology and mechanics, medicine and healthcare, fine arts, mathematics, science and social sciences are included.
21st Century Classroom Rules
There’s no point in completing a mind shift in your classroom with flexible seating and new ways of delivering curriculum if your classroom “rules” don’t support the change. 🙂 These new classroom “rules” put the responsibility on the students. The “rules” include: communication, interpersonal skills and awareness, creative and innovate, social responsibility and critical thinking.
Interactive Mindful Notebook
This resource was created to help teachers begin teaching mindfulness in their classroom as a way to create happy, well adjusted learners. Happy learners learn more! Soon, this resource became a best seller (and was on the TPT best sellers list) because kids enjoyed it so much and learned so much and teachers loved the concepts included and the ease of use. Students will need these skills in order to be able to interact with others and self regulate. This notebook helps them do both.
How excited are you to be teaching in a time when wonderful change is happening in schools all around?! Even if you are in a District that is not quite there yet, you can try some of these fun, deeper learning resources that will bring out the BEST in your students. The best part? You will experience so many ah-ha moments with your students which is as gratifying as it can get!