Tag Archives: Teaching Philosophy

The student-centered classroom

Teaching PhilosophyI realized how important this was when I directed students to this website. The first  question I heard was,  “Is it mobile friendly?” I was briefly taken aback, but quicky realized how important this question was. The personal computer is no longer the preferred computing device for middle-schoolers. The emails I receive from students claim to be sent from iPads, iPhones, and Galaxy phones and tablets. If the goal is to impact student engagement and learning, the product must be accessible and familiar on their device of choice, and that device is probably not a traditional computer any more.

It is important to me that my classroom focuses on the students’ needs, not my own. As a step toward student-centeredness, I’ll start by making sure the resources I offer to students, whenever possible, work on phones or tablets as well as they do on computers

21st Century Classrooms—Collaborative Environment

Teaching PhilosophyEdutopia 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.

Collaboration is an important skill to master. Whether they realize it or not, students are constantly collaborating with their peers, particularly if they are already using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, texting, or e-mail. Putting a formal, educational spin on collaboration will help to ensure that these students can benefit from the deep levels of collaboration that exist in modern society.

While some students may prefer to work alone, there are levels of understanding and creativity that simply do not appear in solo work. Additionally, there are many instances where the moments of inspiration and revelation that occur during collaborative work can open the minds of an entire classroom to fully embrace a new concept in ways that the teacher could simply not imagine.

As I get to know my students better and continue to develop an understanding of their prior knowledge, I will continue to add opportunities for collaboration in the classroom. From thirty second discussions with “shoulder partners” to clarify reasoning in answering questions to long-term cooperation on research projects and explorations, I expect my students to work together and benefit from the opportunities they are given.

21st Century Classrooms—Transparent Assessment

Teaching PhilosophyEdutopia 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.