Creating the Class I Want to be a Student In

In the past I have written about two of the characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset. Check out my post about What is Resiliency and How Collaborations Have Made Me a Better Teacher. Recently, I have been coming back to a third of those characteristics: Creation. The inspiration to write on this topic came from the Week 2 of Season 3 Innovator’s Mindset #IMMOOC blog post ideas.

Part of the 8 Characteristics of the Innovator's Mindset by George Couros

Part of the 8 Characteristics of the Innovator's Mindset by George Couros

Innovators design, they iterate, they build/experiment, they redesign, they iterate again, and they rebuild/re-experiment. It is an essential part of the learning process. We need to view ourselves and our students as Innovators, as people who want to create new and better learning experiences. These creations aren’t just physical products, but they can also be new and better ways of thinking, mental models, processes, systems, or a variety of other things.

As teachers, one thing we NEED to create is the type of classroom that we would like to a student in. This becomes a central theme for George Couros in his book, Innovator’s Mindset. Couros highlights a passage from the Center for Accelerated Learning, “Learning is creation, not consumption. Knowledge is not something a learner absorbs, but something a learner creates… Learning is literally a matter of creating new meanings…” These new meanings are created by making connections. Connecting previously learned material with new in ways that personalize learning for students fosters deeper learning.

As a Technology Integrationist, I believe tech will most definitely help students make these connections. If I were a student in my class, I would expect the teacher to effectively integrate technology in (almost) EVERY lesson. To leverage technology in meaningful ways however, teachers need to push themselves and their students to get beyond just consuming and regurgitating content they find online or in digital sources. Think of how many digital worksheets we have students complete. How is a student supposed to personalize this and create new and more meaningful learning? I’m just as guilty of using these digital worksheets as anyone. There is a time and place for such low-level SAMR substitution, but there needs to be the realization that it isn’t leveraging technology to its fullest possibilities to increase learning. These moments should be chosen carefully and cautiously. Would I want to be in a student that only used their technology for guided reading? NO.

If I were a student in my class, I would expect Voice and Choice. I would expect the teacher would create opportunities for me to find my own path toward learning. Allowing students the opportunities to choose their own ways to demonstrate and express learning in meaningful ways is accelerated through the use of technology. 1:1 devices (we currently use iPads in Milaca) are full of creation apps, video and photograph tools, and recording possibilities. These tools allow for students to express themselves in their own “voice.” Allowing students to choose the best ways to share their learning experience while also empowering them to work through the creative and innovative process of design, iterate, build/experiment, redesign, iterate again, and rebuild/re-experiment.

Would I want to be a student in a classroom where I am able to creatively express my learning and use it to spark new ways to #ChaseCuriosity? Most Definitely.