My philosophy of education has grown stronger as I’ve learned ways to implement it in the classroom. I still believe my role is to craft stimulating, rich learning environments. While I coach students in building their learning networks, their role is to own their self-directed learning. They are to choose which learning tasks are personally meaningful to them. With the intrinsic motivation that is sure to follow, students are to wholeheartedly craft their ideas, broadcast them, and provide thought-provoking feedback to those of their peers. All the while, student are seeking social approval and recognition in domains that have relevance not only to their lives but also to those in their online communities around the world.
Tools that I plan to use as I foster this caliber of learning include wikis, blogs and badges. I will assign students to groups of three, and during the year every group will select a chapter of material and collectively summarize it in a wiki for the class to use as a review guide. Classmates can comment on the wiki’s effectiveness in clearly explaining content, offer suggestions or praise, or request further examples. As for blogs, students will reflect on why certain homework assignments were difficult for them, celebrate successes in their learning and what efforts or resources contributed, and what kinds of lessons helped them grasp a concept and how they matched their learning styles.
To evaluate learning, I will assess students on their insightful posts and comments, facility in linking together different ideas, and extension of their networks to include knowledgeable contributors (credentialed or not). A subtler indication of learning will take the form of initiative. Does the student initiate communication? Contribute original ideas? Take positions different than the status quo?
Badges – complimentary to traditional forms of assessment – will allow me to guide and recognize students’ learning toward the softer skills of mathematics. These include perseverence, the ability to communicate mathematically, organization, and so forth. For learning to occur in my classroom, students must make the most of the opportunities that I provide as the course architect.
A primary goal of mine in this course was to learn how to effectively implement real-world problems as part of the core curriculum. These problems entail a plethora of 21-century skills: critical thinking, collaboration and communication, and Web 2.0 resources. Throughout this course, however hard I tried, I failed to find clear and relevant information to propel me in reaching this goal. I will optimistically continue my search and learn to create my own open-ended problems relevant to my algebra 2 curriculum.
On the other hand, I found an answer to the nagging question, “Will I even have a job if virtual schools roll out in full force?” For the reasons listed above, I now know that teachers’ job are here to stay. Who else can transform four walls into a genuinely interactive, self-exploratory learning environment?