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 Excerpts from The Student Is the Class.com blog

 

Beyond Memorization: Give 21st Century Students Time to Understand 

We can all agree that it is important for students to graduate from high school. However, what happens when “graduating” from high school does not necessarily represent an understanding of the basic skills needed in college and the workplace? More than half of the students entering public colleges and universities in Florida need remedial classes in math, reading, and writing prior to starting their college classes. The problem is NOT the amount of money we are putting into our public schools; rather, the structure and curriculum of public education needs reform. Memorizing information for a test is not going to equip students with the skills needed for the 21st century.

 

Students need to learn to analyze, understand, and explain rather than memorize, recite, and regurgitate facts and information. A student cannot be expected to master division if he or she does not know what dividing numbers truly means. Subjects—particularly reading and math— need to be taught on a student’s individual timeframe. Learning should be measured against each student’s past markers of progress. We must enable students to learn at varying rates so they come to understand and analyze information in a way that is useful and accessible both to them personally and for the 21st century.

 

We must change our expectations about time and make conceptual understanding (not rote repetition) our first priority.

 

 Time Must Be A Variable For Student Success 

Nowhere in my readings have I found encouragement and funds to reward systems that are trying to build an educational environment based on students’ mastery and making time a variable. As long as time is fixed, then student progress is what is variable within the fixed time frame. Thus, 30% of the student population is punished through failures.

 

If we moved in core areas - mainly English and Math - to Computer Based Learning ("CBL" or Computer Assisted Instruction “CAI”), the student becomes the class and each student is given time to master the materials. Further, what is learned becomes a tool for future learning. In science and social studies, projects that are meaningful to students can be agreed and assigned. Small groups then may use technology for research purposes as well as to make powerpoint presentations to fellow students.

 

This transformation cannot be done without the community, without curriculum design and without teachers who are trained to utilize the environment correctly.  Student management also is important so that the teacher, the student and the parent see the progress of each student. This type of system provides accessibility to all partners, including the principal and state, as well as a vehicle to help determine the effectiveness of the learning environment in the classroom.

  

iSchool 

A new model being used in select NYC schools, called iSchools, seeks to integrate ‘innovative technology with project-based curriculum’ and early results indicate highly successful outcomes. In this model, groups of students utilize virtual resources on the internet to complete research projects and in doing so take pride in their work and ownership of final results. Each student has his/her own laptop and access to a variety of online resources, which can be monitored by teachers and parents using a learning management system. These are all steps toward creating an environment in which time can be varied to accommodate the learner. As the student becomes more inclined to utilize technology and group- based project research, the skills gained will better prepare the student to enter post- secondary education and the 21st Century workforce.

Source: eschool.com and eschoolnews.com/ 2009/05/15/ischools-lift-hopes-in-nyc/

 

 

 

 

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