As I move forward as an educator in an ever-changing, technological landscape, there are a handful of ideas that would move my teaching and my students’ learning forward to facilitate creative thinking and innovation, at a age-social-emotional-appropriate level for my students, in early elementary education. The first of these ideas include teaching new literacies – to support online reading, understanding, and publishing. Secondly, I’d like to adopt an all-encompassing classroom tool that promotes the collection, reflection, collaboration and sharing of a student’s learning in an elementary class, a “developmentally appropriate online Learning Management System”. Lastly, I’d like to incorporate both computational and creative thinking in project-based, integrated subject matter in my lessons to support the problem solvers and innovators of the future.
New Literacies curriculum involves the students learning and applying new literacies skills. Students must be thoughtful and careful readers and gatherers while searching, navigating and collecting online information. Because of the sheer amount of information available to our students, they will be required to filter through it, know which sources and tools help them find accurate details, and use these details in an effective synthesis of their learning. What’s more, is that utilizing a new literacies curriculum should create new challenges and strategies for students, promote literacy, motivate them to learn, and encourage their continued curiosity and exploration. If they know how to navigate online resources effectively, imagine the world of knowledge to which they can access and contribute–a much more exciting world than books and worksheets!
Another necessary tool for my elementary classroom will be a platform that allows the students to curate and nourish their learning at the control of their fingertips, by showing their learning in one place. Depending on the context of my school and tech availability, this curating tool might actually be a set of tools. For example, I might be able to rely on an iPad + Explain Everything App + an LMS, like Edmodo. In other settings, I may be able to capture this tool in something as simple as Google Docs. Possibly, it would be tool that I’m able to develop on my own. Despite the tool(s), what becomes very necessary is the ability to document multi-media files, make changes, reflect on learning, collaborate with peers, and publish their work within a (safe) community of friends, teachers and parents, easily. I want this tool not only age-appropriate, I want the students in control of their learning snapshots (media files), and in control of their reflections. I want this curating tool to capture how their thinking has changed and capture the mistakes they made, the risks they took, and the collaboration they had with their peers to show their knowing has transformed into understanding. I will work to create this education curation/nourishing tool in each of my contexts, in it’s simplest and most-effective form for my young learners.
Problem solving projects promote integrated subject matter learning, as problems don’t appear solely with solutions in math realm, science realm or social studies realm. The combination of computational thinking and creative thinking will have a role in my classroom to guide students’ problem-solving and creativity. Not only will students need to recognize and use patterns, or algorithms to link their knowledge to new problems, they will have to use creative thinking tools to make new discoveries, synthesize learning and show true understanding. Even at a young age, my students will need to be collaborative learners, they will need to hone in on their collective understanding of sensitive, and carefully observed realities, and will need to communicate their connections to those experiences and reality. For this, I will make sure to adopt programming activities and creative thinking activities appropriate for my students age and socio-emotional range. The exposure to technology in conjunction with creative thinking skills, will prompt them further into this collective understanding, find holes in their understanding, and prepare them for their future innovations.
Dr. Bernadette Dwyer stated in 2012 that, “The ability to work collaboratively to co-construct meaning, to problem solve as part of a team, and to develop new understandings by exploring multiple perspectives are valued in the workplace and should be nurtured in the classroom to enhance learning.” This quote illustrates how all three of my visionary ideas unite. I see my students embracing new literacies, curating and nourishing their learning in an appropriate platform, and using creative thinking skills along with advancing technology. This, coupled with my pedagogy and constant re-evaluation of what my students socio-emotional needs are, will be a proven success to guide my students learning into the future.