So if we are open to shifting our thinking, what is the next step? It lies in a famous quote from Steve Jobs who said “creativity is connecting things”. The ability to connect things lies in how we look at the relationship between people, places, and ideas. It's in how we overcome one of the greatest obstacles to creativity - Functional Fixedness.Read More
Educated By Design Blog
Filtering by Tag: critical thinking
One of the challenges of teaching history is that it doesn't change much. While there may be a discovery here and there, it is rare that any sort of drastic discovery might alter the learning experience of a student in history class. Thanks to various technology innovations like the internet and computing technology, this challenge can also be turned into history. That is if as an educator we are willing to be open to the possibility that we are not the all knowing fountain of knowledge, and that our 20-year old textbook might need an upgrade? But who can afford textbooks?!!?
Worry not! We have a classroom of historical researchers and thinkers and the tools to empower them to create their own history book.
In an 8th-grade history class, we did just that. In collaboration with Ilana Zadok, 8th-grade history teacher, we set out to challenge our students to build their own Revolutionary War publication. We wanted it to be something that is 100% student-produced with the goal that others could learn and in the end benefit from the students work. Our students set out to research various events of the Revolutionary War, focusing on primary sources and first-hand encounters. With this research in hand students because to create a window into the past. Through creative writing, photos, and student-produced films these events began to take life through the lens of the students. With all of this amazing content gathered and produced we were at a loss of where to compile it and share it out.
Book Creator to the Rescue!
After the content was created students imported it into Book Creator and used its features to layout an interactive book full of written, visual, and audial expressions. Each group of students then created an assessment quiz at the end to demonstrate their understanding of the content and to challenge their peers to delve deep into their work. In the end students learned from their peers gaining a deep understanding of a specific Revolutionary event and a general overview of the entire war. With the success of this unit, there was so much more accomplished besides the memorization of battles and soldiers. Students developed important skills in communication, both visually, and verbally. Collaboration, Cooperation, Organization, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving all played a role in this production.
The end result was an 110-page publication that pushed the limits of student learning and technology itself. The Book Creator file was 1GB and due to its size would not export from the iPad. With a little bit of praying and 4 hours of work on my part, I was able to get the file down to 610MB without sacrificing one iota of student work and airdrop it to the students iPads to experience their hard work first hand.
Here are a few screenshots and videos from the publication.
There is no denying that current technology trends in education are here to stay. Whether you choose Apple, Samsung, Google, or Amazon, the platforms, companies, and devices will come and go, but the learning outcomes they produce are everlasting. The user experience might be different, but the goals for their use are the same; We want our learners to be able to achieve 21st-Century Competencies. It is evident that these technology tools allow learners to gain these skills while achieving faster and higher quality products, through a more efficient and practical processes. This is why
21st Century Competencies have nothing and everything to do with technology.
In fall of last year I began to research how to support learners' and educators' understanding of 21st-Century Competencies. I discovered many amazing resources, but felt that each one lacked one key component. Acquiring 21st-Century Competencies cannot be defined through the lens of the technology itself. It must be through the lens of what the technology allows us to create and the experience gained. 21st-Century Competencies are about social interaction that helps connect individuals in a way that achieves a more developed and meaningful outcome. This has absolutely nothing to do with technology as it is nothing but a connector between two or more people.
21st-Century Competencies allow for strong, independent learners that are highly functional in environments that require advanced skills in collaboration and human interaction, aka the real world.
The challenge was to concretize this process in a way that could achieve measurable results including the hope that through developing a formalized process, learners and educators would be more open to failure. This means that even though we did not "solve" the problem this time, we still gained skills in organization, collaboration, communication, as well as a better understanding of the process of problem solving and critical thinking. This process also allows for a reflective and revisionist process where learners can continue to work on identifying strengths and weaknesses in the project and in themselves. This is because learning is not always about solving the problem, it is also about gaining a deeper understanding through experimentation and discovery, with the understanding that even failure can lead to a significant learning experience.
Together with my colleague, Samantha Pack, we set out to create a rubric that would support the development of 21st-Century Competencies with the following criteria in mind:
1. A clear definition of each of the 21st-Century Competencies.
2. Ability to measure proficiency in each of the 21st-Century Competencies.
3. A universal approach that will support the development of 21st-Century Competencies regardless of discipline.
4. Ability for learners to achieve skills through reflection and revision.
5. To ensure that the 21st century competencies work together with various pedagogical models.
In June during a PD Workshop with middle school faculty, I shared the rubric to get feedback for the final draft slated for launch in the fall. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The faculty described it as supportive but not restricting, giving students the ability to capture the essential idea of each skill, and assist them in becoming independent learners with the ability to assess their own performance. One faculty member said,
This rubric doesn't describe how to use technology, this rubric describes how to be human.
Ladies and Gentleman, we have arrived. This is the true purpose of technology. Its ability to help us build relationships, foster personal growth, and truly arrive at a better more connected global community.
I will be sharing this rubric at my session "The Invisible iPad - Significant Learning Experiences Without Actually Losing Your iPad" at the EdTechTeacher Summit July 28th-30th at the Navy Pier in Chicago.
Image Courtesy of: dribbble.com/lobanovskiy
In middle school, incoming 6th graders are met with an overwhelming change in how they learn. One teacher multiples into six or seven, school becomes longer, and students are expected to become super organized and able to communicate on a whole new level.
"This is why elementary students must learn about Design."
Students must understand why it's important to be aware and thoughtful when creating even the most menial documents. Design evokes emotion, and gives a person a connection to a visual object. Typography, layout design, color theory, are inseparable parts of everyday life. The letter types of street signs, the colors emitted from lightbulbs, everyday objects are carefully designed to give people a positive and enjoyable experience. We expect certain colors, and letter types around us, and it's only after they are altered that we become aware of how truly powerful their impact is on us.
Student learn basic math and science because they are the foundation of understanding how the world works, yet not every student will become a mathematician or scientist. Similarly, learning design doesn't mean you must become a designer, but it will help you view the world differently. One of the biggest misconceptions is that design is just about making advertisements and posters.
"Design is about making conscience decisions that verbally or visually connect people and ideas."
We do this every day with our students, friends, and co-workers yet we still make powerpoint slides that look like this
Flat design is a trending design style that utilizes geometric shapes, color, and smooth lined letter types. Below is the ever popular Facebook logo which was recently updated with those elements in mind. By dropping the blue highlight at the bottom, and utilizing positive and negative space with the "f", these small yet powerful adjustments have strengthened the logo's visual pop.
Challenging students to make good design choices enhances their critical thinking, problem solving, communication, decision making and organization skills. It teaches them how to simplify their ideas so they are clearly understood and internalized by the viewer. Design was not always this way. Below is an example of a logo that has experienced one hundred years of design as it abandons high contrast muddied imagery, and replaces it with simple, sharp, and powerful form.
Who can teach this?
While many teachers are already overwhelmed by meeting learning quotas, every teacher can themselves learn, and model proper design concepts that can be integrated into the many projects already planned for the year. Design can be taught as a class but in an elementary or middle school environment this would not be realistic or even productive. Like technology, design should be used to enhance current learning experiences or stimulate new ones, they should not be an end unto themselves.
"Students are not interested in learning when it isn't relevant to them, and design is no different."