These are the cues and clues to discerning whether or not a classroom has transformed into that 21st Century-future-oriented classroom. There are definite look-fors that seem to spell Y-E-S! These are signs of a classroom getting kids prepared for the test of life as well as for the indomitable test. See how many signs you can spot in your walk-throughs and look-fors.
VOICE speaks to the student-centered classroom in which kids talk as much as the teacher talks. Following the adage “The person doing the talking is the person doing the talking is the person doing the learning”, their voices are heard in multiple student to student interactions throughout the day.
CHOICE is one of three differentiation components that afford different entry points in to the learning for different types of learners. “Change, Challenge and Choice” is the key to different strokes for different folks. If you believe we all learn in our own time and in our own way, you believe in differentiated learning.
REFLECTION seems to be the forgotten charm of today’s classroom. Reflection is about metacognition; that looking over the work as the task unfolds; or that predicting what is ahead and what might work best; or reflecting and looking back once the work has been completed in an appraisal of the pros and cons of the product and the process.
INNOVATION is about achieving an ultimate creative endeavor through the enterprise and entrepreneurship as young, developing thinkers in the age of digital applications and resources. Innovators are risk-takers, connectors and fail-safe in their approach to learning, unlearning and relearning.
CRITICAL THINKERS are analyzers who are willing to disagree, argue, debate, compromise, and find consensus as they explore, examine, evaluate and express their thoughts about the work, the conversations, the conclusions reached and even about the reliability, validity and truth about the findings under scrutiny.
PROBLEM-SOLVERS address their work and their play as challenges that are evoke curiosity, interest and intrigue that compelling them to the jump in and try. These kids are more inclined to wallow in the problem with all kinds of possibilities before they actually settle on the alternative they think is best. They enjoy the ambiguity, the not knowing, but with drive to find out.
SELF-ASSESSING is a cousin to self-reflection, but it carries the weight of a ranking as well as a look/see at what worked and what didn’t. This willingness to examine ones’ self and one’s work requires a strong sense of self agency and the rare humility that allows one to learn from others with awe and with appreciation.
CONNECTED LEARNING is how the brain hangs on to new input. The incoming data creates a dissonance as the mind searches for patterns, connections and associations. The brain must attach this information to something it already knows, prior learning, if you will, that afford the brain to make sense of it in a connected, meaningful and purposeful way.
When someone asks you what a 21st Century Classroom means, you can simply say that “eight is enough” to signal that future-thinking classroom with this quick-glance quip”. Connected learning in this century is about the voices and choices of children, as they think critically, innovate, assess and reflect. 21st Century classrooms are about kids owning their own learning with commitment and perseverance.