Here's what I'm researching... but first, the latest and greatest app the boys and I have been using (inspired by a cross between something a colleague sent me, and a critical thinking lesson I found online), here is my classroom a-la-SKITCH:
One thing I have definitely developed this year is a greater comfort with technology as a teaching and learning tool. I've taken online classes and had Skype interviews and meetings, I've explored apps and virtual worlds with the kids both in class and in our personal lives, I've circumvented less than ideal tech situations due to theft... it was not one of my primary goals to become more proficient with technology, but it happened, and I'm glad. I think my future students will benefit from the less Ludditic Ms. Teschow!
What I'm most excited about is my ability to see the transition from "augmentation" to "modification" in my own teaching, and I am looking forward to continuing this journey when I return to a classroom next year.
The 6 Cs
21-century learning is about more than technology. Smart Boards, apps and online courses are tools to enable the following facets of a solid education, not replace them: character, citizenship, communication, critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration and teamwork, and creativity and imagination. Sometimes these are called the 6Cs, their importance in the teaching repertoire is outlined by Michael Fullan in "From Good to Great: Launching the Next Stage of Ontario's Education Agenda".
Revised Social Studies Curriculum
Last year, the revised Social Studies curriculum was released, and with it, a renewed focus on a number of Ministry initiatives and policies:
* mental health and wellness
* environmental education
* equity and inclusive education
* financial literacy
* literacy and mathematical literacy
* critical thinking/literacy
* 21st century learning
* career/life planning
Although I have used some of the themes in the revised curriculum in my home schooling this year, this is an area I definitely need to be come more familiar with. In particular, I want to think more about how the front matter has evolved, and how the 6 Cs (from the previous section I wrote about) are embedded in the expectations of the new curriculum document.
The revised curriculum document is -- like its peers in Math, Science, Language and the Arts -- a robust compendium for teachers, to be consulted as a whole. No longer does one simply flip to the grade level expectations for the grade(s) one is teaching (not that we should have been doing that in the first place, but let's be honest, a lot of us did!), but rather one consults the entire document for ideas on how to set up a rich program that engages all learners and prepares them to be healthy, engaged citizens in the 21st Century!
The Whole Child
Speaking of healthy, engaged citizens, we teachers can be program geniuses, but at the end of the day, we are teaching children, not curriculum. That means that while thinking about how to set up an effective literacy program, we also need to be thinking about how we can contribute to the greater fabric of the school, such that school is a place where students and their families feel comfortable. Awareness of mental health issues, socio-economic factors, and other "extra-curricular" challenges (and their impact in the classroom) is increasing.
Our classrooms need to be places where students can explore who they are as learners and who they are becoming as people. Lunch time clubs and after school activities contribute to our understanding of the "whole child" and help us to support students across subjects and grade levels, even if they are not in our class.
Indeed, one of the foundational components of Karen Hume's model of differentiation speaks to this idea. (Click to enlarge the image on the left, and consider the red oval near the bottom of the concept map.) So, getting to know students outside the classroom context can help us meet those students' learning needs more effectively, which helps us further get to know those students as "whole" people. Articulating this belief is a goal for me in future interviews.