“Learning is active, engaging, and social. Students need to be engaged and motivated in their learning before they can apply higher order, creative thinking skills. They are most engaged when they themselves are part of constructing meaning, not when teachers do it for them. By encouraging students to meet challenges creatively, collaborate, and apply critical thinking skills to real-world, unpredictable situations inside and outside of school, we prepare them for future college, career, and citizenship success.
Effective classroom instruction that embraces both high standards and accountability for students' learning can be project-based, focused on service and the community, experiential, cooperative, expeditionary ... the list goes on. These engaging learning strategies are grounded in instructional objectives, provide clear feedback, and enable students to thrive cognitively, socially, emotionally, and civically.”
For the past two years our school has been frantically trying to absorb and understand the implications of adopting the Common Core Standards. The Common Core is rigorous and offers opportunities to advance equity. However, implementing the Common Core without a clear cohesive school philosophy of teaching and learning, can lead to educational chaos. As access to knowledge and research about education becomes readily accessible via technology, the amount of lenses teachers are encouraged to look through when developing curriculum opportunities become overwhelming. Without a specifically clear learning design and intention, the whole child risks being left behind.
As we think about student engagement and wade through the multiple advantages in integrating components of problem-based learning, technology, brain-based learning, social-emotional learning, growth mindsets, integrated studies, and STEAM, we clearly become unfocused and confused. What is the best way to bring dynamic learning into the classroom? If the child were truly at the center of each educational decision, we wonder what would that look like?
At the moment, the Common Core is a cornerstone of our school’s path. Our goal for the year is to put the focus back on the child, the learner. We have the “what” and the “who,” the decisions we’ll be making will be mostly about the “how”. How do we make choices that are active and engaging and support each child’s growth? We’ll be exploring if we can find a way to keep our pulse on the child’s learning experience and developmental needs as we sift through the educational melee and make strategic choices that we hope will support our student-centered objective. Stay tuned!