Edutopia shared an article listing 10 Signs of a 21st Century Classroom. I’d like to discuss how I’m striving to incorporate these ideas in my classroom over the next 10 weeks. Like the article author, I’ll be addressing these ideas in no particular order, but in a different order than they’re listed in the article.
Transparent assessment is something that I would have dearly loved when I was a middle school student. I always felt like I was reaching for an invisible goal. I often felt that my teachers were constantly moving the bar and was rarely sure what I needed to do to succeed on an assignment.
I strive to clearly communicate my expectations to students on those assignments where right/wrong may be less than totally clear. On homework, I expect students to show an attempt at a problem—often this means simply writing down what is given. I can’t count the number of times I’ve pointed this out to a student and no sooner did pencil touch paper than a solution magically appeared. On projects, I’ll always specify clear due dates. I’ll provide a rubric for any product the students will turn in so that they know what to expect for grading.
Beyond the assignment of grades, constant formative assessment will help my students know what to expect come test time. Much of the time spent in my classroom focuses on solving problems, building solution strategies, and exploring application. Students work to find answers alone or in groups, but each student knows that it’s only a matter of time before it’s his/her turn to explain the reasoning for an answer. Students will see “test questions” many times before they encounter them on a test, so the type and scope should not come as a surprise on test day.
I’ll continue my unravelling of my 21st century classroom next time.