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Turn your classroom into a community

However, the entire premise for these studies is based on the assumption that grades and test scores are an accurate barometer for academic achievement and learning. In the teacher-centered classroom, in class learning and student productivity is lower, making homework more necessary and regular testing essential for measuring learning and performance. In the student-centered classroom, where activities and projects are engaging, students become much more eager to learn, and in class productivity is much higher. Where students complete schoolwork outside of the classroom in a student-centered learning environment, it's typically because they want to complete projects they're working on inside the classroom.

Many teachers are now using engaging project-based learning PBL to teach math standards, sciences, technology and other core subjects to their students and increase student productivity and effectiveness of learning in the classroom. So what exactly is project-based learning? In short, it's learning through identifying real-world programs and developing real-world solutions.

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Not only is project-based learning extremely engaging when implemented correctly, but student learn as they journey through the entire project. Project-based learning also relies heavily on technology, where projects are driven by interactive web tools and solutions are presented using a multimedia approach. When implemented effectively, project-based learning can replace the need for out-of-class homework and in class learning becomes more productive.

One of the keys to developing a student-centered classroom and learning environment is to create ongoing projects for students. Ongoing projects promotes mastery of subject matter being taught and learned.

Characteristics of Highly Effective Teaching and Learning (CHETL)

Learning objectives and standards, for just about any subject matter, can be met through well-designed projects and activities. And providing students with various project choices allows them to demonstrate what they're learning. Creating a student-centered classroom requires collaboration. It requires placing students at the center of their own learning environment by allowing them to be involved in deciding why , what , and how their learning experience will take shape. Before students will be willing to invest the mental, emotional and physical effort real learning requires, they need to know why what they're learning is relevant to their lives, wants and needs.

Explaining to students that they need to study a subject "because it's required for they're grade level," or "they need to know it to get into college" does not establish why in terms of relevance from students' perspective. Such explanations result in lack luster performance, low motivation and poor learning. Students should determine, or guide, the selection of content matter used to teach skills and concepts. What is taught and learned in a student-centered classroom becomes a function of students' interests and involves students' input and teacher-student collaboration.

For example, when learning about American history, students might decide a class play, where each student acts the role of a key historical figure, would be preferable to writing a traditional report or bibliography. In this example, not only do students take ownership of the learning process, all students benefit from the decisions of other students. The how in a student-centered learning environment is just as important as the why and the what.

Students process information, understand and learn in different ways. Offering students the option of how they'll learn will allow each student to adopt the method of learning that will be most comfortable and effective for them. It also allows student to feel more invested in the learning process.

Teachers should consider offering students various performance based learning options that meet academic requirements. Providing students the opportunity to lead in the classroom is a great way to develop a student-centered learning environment that fosters engagement, growth and empowers students to take ownership of the learning experience.

A Focus on Teaching: OpenLabyrinth

Each day consider allowing a few students to each take charge of an individual activity, even if the activity requires content skills beyond the level of the students. Then rote students between leadership roles so each student gets the opportunity to lead an activity.

Innovations in educational theories, textbooks, instructional tools, and teaching techniques do not always produce a desired change in the quality of teaching and learning. What, then, is the problem with our innovations? Why do not we get more concerned with learning productivity and efficiency? As an example, let us look at technology applications in teaching and learning. When analyzing innovations of our time, we cannot fail to see that an overwhelming majority of them are tangible, being either technology tools laptops, iPads, smart phones or technology-based learning systems and materials, e.

Technology has always served as both a driving force and instrument of innovation in any area of human activity. It is then natural for us to expect that innovations based on ET applications can improve teaching and learning. The rich history of ET innovations is filled with optimism. Just remember when tape recorders, video recorders, TV, educational films, linguaphone classes, overhead projectors, and multimedia first appeared in school. They brought so much excitement and hope into our classrooms!

New presentation formats catered to various learning styles. Visuals brought reality and liveliness into the classrooms. Information and computer technology ICT offered more ways to retrieve information and develop skills. With captivating communication tools iPhones, iPads, Skype, FaceTime , we can communicate with anybody around the world in real time, visually, and on the go.

Today we are excited about online learning, mobile learning, social networking learning, MOOCs, virtual reality, virtual and remote laboratories, 3D and 4D printing, and gamification. But can we say all this is helping to produce better learning? We spent billions of dollars on computers. Yet has academic achievement improved as a consequence? Has teaching and learning changed? Has use of devices in schools led to better jobs? These are the basic questions that school boards, policy makers, and administrators ask. This cautionary statement should make us all think hard about whether more technology means better learning.

Technology is used in manufacturing, business, and research primarily to increase labor productivity. Because integrating technology into education is in many ways like integrating technology into any business, it makes sense to evaluate technological applications by changes in learning productivity and quality. Why then has technology not contributed much to the productivity of learning?

Evidently, this paradox relates to technology applications in education. What some educational researchers write about technology in education helps to reveal the inherent issue.

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  6. The pillars and building blocks of twenty-first century learning, according to Linda Baer and James McCormick , p. They are intended to integrate customized learning experiences, assessment-based learning outcomes, wikis, blogs, social networking, and mobile learning. The foundation of all this work, as these authors write, is built on the resources, infrastructure, quality standards, best practices, and innovation.

    Instructional Approach – Bridge Prep Charter School

    These are all useful, tangible things, but where are the intangible innovations, such as theoretical foundation, particularly pedagogy, psychology, and instructional methodology that are a true underpinning of teaching and learning? The emphasis on tools seems to be an effect of materialistic culture, which covets tangible, material assets or results. We may come to recognize that modern learning is driven more by technological tools than by sound theory, which is misleading.

    As Zhao and Frank argue in their ecological model of technology integration in school, we should be interested in not only how much computers are used but also how computers are used. Thus, the problem of ET innovations is twofold: any integration of technology in teaching and learning has to demonstrate an increased productivity of teaching and learning, but it can be achieved only when ET applications are based on an effective pedagogic theory. Technology innovation will eventually drive pedagogic innovations, without a doubt, however, this path is slower, more complicated, and leads to an enormous waste of financial, technical and human resources.

    More disquieting than even the lack of pedagogical foundation for technology-enhanced education is the sincere belief of many educators that technology will fix all the problems they encounter in the classroom, be they live or virtual. Consequently, fewer university professors nowadays perceive the need for pedagogic mastery in online teaching in addition to content-area expertise as they reason technology will solve all instructional difficulties anyway.

    It is probably common in secondary school as well. Unfortunately, educators often forget that the computer is only an extension of human abilities, not a replacement or substitute. We, as educators, must realize that for technology innovation to produce a positive effect in learning it must be preceded by pedagogic leadership, research, and sound theory; however, the reality is typically the reverse. We are excited to grab the new gadget and try to fit it into the classroom without preliminary assessment of its implementation challenges and potential effects, solid research, or laying out a theoretical foundation based on advanced pedagogic theory which will ensure its effective use.

    Technology as an entity contains an inherent pedagogical value Accuosti, , p. It pushes the limits of what educators can do but is not a magic wand; it is only a means, an instrument, a tool for an innovative teacher and learner. Perhaps the revolution that we need, the one we should aspire to, is societal. It is certainly true that live interaction between students and their teachers offers worthy examples and enlightening experiences for students and gratifying moments for teachers. It further underestimates the need for sound pedagogy and quality teacher preparation.

    It may also have a devastating impact on our ability to socialize, collaborate, and survive. A strong warning about the negative effects of the Web comes from Maurer et al. This in turn makes the outcomes of online learning overly dependent on the LMS platform, washing away human interaction and communication by industrializing and formalizing learning. Their observations support the findings of other studies that indicate learning occurs best when it involves a blend of online and face-to-face learning, with the latter providing essential intangibles best obtained on a traditional college campus.

    From this statement, one can extrapolate that technology alone cannot ensure productive and enriched learning and, especially, personal and social development as students still need a human element in a technology-enhanced environment. Additionally, when planning to apply a new technology to education, we have to consider its potential pedagogic and psychological effects.

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    Finally, we need a solid, innovative, theoretical foundation for online learning. This foundation would help teachers do a better job in both classroom and online environments than simply integrating computers and other gadgets into learning. As technology-based education is unquestionably going to grow, we need to make it pedagogically, psychologically, and socially meaningful and effective.