Move from a Static Classroom to a Dynamic Classroom (Shake Up Challenge!)
Meaning, does your classroom offer one-and-done types of learning activities, or does the learning grow, inspire, and evolve throughout the year and beyond? Learning doesn’t have to end when the bell rings.
Take a look at my definitions below and think about what your classroom looks like.
Dynamic Classroom: A classroom characterized by constant change, activity, and progress–where learning lives, grows, connects, and is extended outside the boundary of the class day and physical location.
Static Classroom: A classroom lacking in movement, action, or change, especially in a way that is not engaging–where learning happens in short bursts and is often demonstrated in one-and-done activities, short-term assignments, or worksheets (even digital worksheets).
Consider the dreaded worksheet, there may be very good, critical thinking questions on that worksheet, but once it is turned in, that’s the end of that line of thinking. Paper activities make it difficult to allow learning to grow organically and can stifle creativity. Now compare that worksheet with a Google Doc, a blog, or a website, these are tools that allow us to be more dynamic.
This website, www.ShakeUpLearning.com, would be worthless to me if I couldn’t update it and make changes and add additional content. With tools like G Suite for Education that are available 24/7, the learning doesn’t have to stop when the bell rings at the end of class, or when the worksheet is turned in, or even when the school year ends. The learning takes on a life of it’s own; it becomes dynamic. This concept alone should change the way you think about learning in general and change the way you facilitate learning in the classroom.
Now go back to that worksheet and ponder how it could grow into something more dynamic, creative, and meaningful. What if instead of just writing the answers to questions on a piece of paper, students were demonstrating their knowledge through a collaborative Google Drawing of the Battle of the Alamo, able to include labels, historical figures, and tell the story in a completely new way. What if…even after their work had been assessed, they were allowed to continue to develop the work that interested them throughout the year with your guidance as the teacher?
Consider a research project on emerging technology. Depending on what day you do the research, that project could look very different. What if this was a project that students continued to add to, learn from, and create throughout the school year. What if we could combine that with their reflections and publish that to the world as a blog?
As a middle school language arts teacher, I spent a lot of time on writing. The moment my students turned in the first draft of their paper, it stifled their momentum. And because some years I had 175+ students, the time that it would take for me to return that rough draft and ask for changes could be several days; students had a hard time picking up where they left off and remembering their original train of thought.
If only we had had Google Docs that year! A Google Doc is a living document. When students write in Google Docs, the writing process doesn’t have to end, but the teacher can still peek into the window and see that they are making progress and help them improve. This makes the writing process much more collaborative, AND completely dynamic.
And I promise it’s not just about Google! There are so many powerful digital tools at our disposal that help us move beyond the old ways of doing things and help us to think differently about what learning looks like in our classrooms. Not to say that we don’t need learning goals, and targets to assess, but why not consider activities that allow students to continue to grow and share ideas throughout the unit of study, and entire six or nine week period, or even the entire school year and beyond? E-portfolios are an excellent way to document and share, but can we connect the artifacts to each other in a more dynamic way?
Think about how dynamic the twenty-first-century work environment has become. We have the ability to connect and learn 24-7 across the globe. A lot of the workplace projects are not one and done. Often they are cyclical, like the school year, where we get to improve, try new things and make revisions each year. If we extended the learning beyond the normal bounds of a one-and-done activity or worksheet, we are giving students opportunities to broaden and enrich the learning.
A dynamic classroom also allows opportunities for students to tap into those much needed creative skills, explore their passions, and pursue their own learning goals. And of course, it is a great way to give students more ownership of their learning.
Shake Up Challenge:
Create a Dynamic Lesson
I do not have all of the answers. This idea is just a spark. A dynamic classroom takes time. In an effort to shake up learning in your classroom, I challenge you to shake up one of your old lesson plans and make it more dynamic. In what ways can you help students create, learn, and extend their learning beyond a one-and-done activity?
1. Create a new and dynamic lesson with your choice of digital tools.
Be sure to include ways that activity can live and grow. Type up the directions and resources in a Google Doc with a shareable link. (Already shaking things up with dynamic lesson plans? Please move to step two.)
2. Share your lesson on social media using the #SUL (Shake Up Learning) hashtag and
4. Show off your badge on your blog, website, email signature, etc. Show the world you are doing things differently and you want to SHAKE UP LEARNING!
Look for more challenges coming soon!
What do you think? What are other ways you could make the classroom more dynamic and less static? Please share in the comments below.
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17 Things to Try in 2017
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