21st century learning has given a whole new meaning to the idea that practice makes perfect. "Practice" (repeating an action or skill over and over again) has become "praxis" (putting that skill into practice in a real life situation). "Perfect" is no longer measured by every student coming to the same conclusion, but it is measured by every student experiencing new things, not only to help them learn new things, but also to help them understand why they are learning, and to help them think more deeply about their every day lives, and how this new lesson applies to them and the world around them.
A great example of 21st century learning is portrayed in Janna Steffan's Grade 2 Digital Portfolio. Janna made a video called "Where does food come from?". In this video, she interviewed some of her classmates to find out where they thought different foods came from. Each child started by saying where they thought a particular food came from, and followed this by explaining what they know now, after learning the process of where food comes from. I encourage you to check out the youtube video below.
Where Does Food Come From?
Janna's video project helped children to learn in a meaningful way. For example, unlike simply learning and practicing an output of knowledge, students were given the opportunity to share and make an educated guess about where they thought honey came from. This shows children that they are not simply empty in terms of knowledge, and need to be filled with knowledge throughout their education. This activity shows them that they have valuable knowledge and experience, and their prior understandings can be grown and expanded with new knowledge.
Honey is a food that children may have chosen to explore because it may be something they have in their house and eat on a regular basis. They were then able to make the connection between their life, and how their food choice interacts with the world around them.
They learned environmental literacy, by understanding the role that bees and flowers play in making honey. They learned interdisciplinary lessons as well - they explored the science behind the work of a bee, and they also learned some aspects of social studies, including human interaction with the environment, through exploration of the job of a bee-keeper.
Not only is this a great way for children to learn about how their food is made, but this is also a great way for their teacher to assess their knowledge without the use of a test. Teachers can watch the videos students made to assess their knowledge and thought processes as they teach each other how food is made. This is a great example of 21st century learning, as the use of technology (youtube) is combined with interdisciplinary, meaningful lessons so that students can expand knowledge and inquiry, while being assessed in a meaningful, and fun way.
Check out this video about kindergarten students, as they learn the science behind a hot air balloon!
This is a great example of project-based learning. Students were able to learn the science of energy while making their own hot air balloons, and then launching them. What an exciting, fun, hands-on way for students to learn. This is much better than learning from a textbook, or even watching a video to see how this kind of energy works.
Kindergarten began this project with an exploration session with their teacher. He showed them how hot air balloons work using a model in the classroom. Students were able to ask questions and describe how they thought the hot air and energy worked. Then students constructed their own balloon.
They learned math, as they were asked which shapes they used to make their balloon. They were able to identify when they used a square, circle, or trapezoid. They applied math to art, as they had to construct their balloon using various shapes, while working collaboratively with their peers (another 21st century skill!). As a class, they took a field trip to an open space where they could see science in action, and they launched their hot air balloons.
What an incredible and exciting way for students to learn from so many areas of the curriculum (math, science and art), while putting to use their skills to produce something they could be excited about, and all the while learning important skills like collaboration, design, and creativity.
When I think back to my own education, it was lessons that included this kind of project based learning that I remember the most, and learned the most from. It was praxis, not just practice, that helped me to develop my skills and learn in the most effective and meaningful way. It was praxis that allowed me to learn far more skills in far more subject areas than I ever did simply through practice!
I want this for my students. It will take time and effort for me to create these kinds of lessons, but it will be exciting to see the outcome of learning that will take place, just as it did for the students in these videos! I have not considered all of the resources there are for teachers online, until exploring them in this course. I am excited to be able to use these, and other examples to accomplish teaching my students through praxis.