Breaking down the classroom walls

Morning all! It’s the perfect day here today … Rainy and cold! My favourite kind of weather. I, however have to go to work. Perfect day wasted 😦 There’s been some awesome posts though check out this one about assignment 2 and Deborah’s post about Cyberbullying.

Nevermind. Today I wanted to take about breaking down the classroom walls. Now, when I say that I do not mean lets start a riot in class and encourage students to start bashing the walls until the fall down…. No. I’m talking about how we can make the classroom relevant to the outside world; how we can empower students to learn and create knowledge that is relevant and important to them, that will help them.

As we’ve learnt through this course, ICTs are a big part of bringing real life closer to the classroom. ICTs program instant access to massive amounts of information regardless of time or distance. However, it’s how we use these ICTs as teachers that will determine whether they contribute to breaking down the walls or becoming another brick in wall keeping students isolated from the outside world.

Let me ask you something. How many times have you heard a student ask a teacher “when am I going to use this in real life???!!” 

Let me ask you another question. How many times did you ask your teachers that question?

Snap right. I know I asked that question many, many times (especially in maths, sorry maths people), and how often could the teacher actually answer that question?? ZERO. Even the teachers don’t know why the content is relevant. I’ll put my hand up right now, I don’t know when students are ever actually going to use half of the content that I will teach them. Scary.

So then, step one in breaking down classroom walls =

Step one: Know why you are teaching something. Know why it’s relevant and how it will benefit the students, because they will ask you and not having an answer just confirms their suspicion that what they are learning it not actually important when it definetly is.

Step two: Use ICTs. Get students collaborating with experts, get them exploring the subject in Think Quest, let them think for themselves and search for answers for themselves. Certainly be there to support and guide the students, but remember, we don’t have all the answers!

Step three: Let the students be creative. Let them use their knowledge to create things. The power of ‘doing’ should never be underestimated.

Step four: GET OUT OF THE CLASSROOM!! Go one excursion, have class under a tree, something I am really keen to try out in history class is to create an excavation site and have my history classes practice their archaeological skills, which leads me to step five:

Step five: Always include real life applications. Let the students be archaeologists, let them be scientists, let them be builders or inventors, let them be writers. Come up with lessons and assignments that actually relate to the real world. I’m sorry, but essays and exams should be be in existence any more. They are not authentic assessment pieces and they are not accurate descriptors of a students knowledge and understanding. How do I know this? I faked my way through maths. Understood absolutely nothing, didn’t get it, was super confused by it, but taught myself the processes and formulas and topped my class. And let me tell you, I am hopeless at maths. Hence: exams are not accurate.

Step six: Lastly, be a support to your students, encourage them, guide them, help them. We spend a lot of time with these kids and have a lot of influence. We will either be the teacher who encouraged them and helped them, or the teacher who break their heart and their dreams. If you have low expectations for a student, they will meet that expectation 100%. If you have high expectations, (albeit realistic ones), they will meet that expectation! Never write anyone off, let the students be what they want to be and help them get there.

Happy studying all!

Kate

PS>  Check out this video about how powerful and important being a teacher is.

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