A Final Reflection on CEP 811

25 Jun

One of the themes of this course that really struck me was the emphasis on fostering creativity and instilling a sense of “making” in the students of the 21st century. Traditional school settings tend to diminish creativity for a more “memorization of facts and test you later on it” approach. When exploring learning theories during week 3, I stumbled upon this TedTalk by Sir Ken Robinson on creativity and intelligence:

It has become clear that continuing down the road of traditional approaches to learning will not yield the results needed for successful 21st century learners. According to James Paul Gee, “if they’re (people in general) going to survive in a developed country outside of low-level service work, they’re going to have to have innovation and creativity” (2008). 21st century skills will only be developed with a 21st century learning environment, and that continues to be the challenge for most educators today. What if teachers redesigned their teaching to accommodate all learners and develop their own unique creativity for solving problems and creating innovative products? How can a teacher evaluate something as abstract as one’s own unique creativity? Grant Wiggins believes it is not at all as difficult as it may seem. In fact, he created a rubric for evaluating creativity just to prove his point. For those who still may not fully align with the possibility to evaluate creativity, he shared an experience he once had working with ELA teachers that felt it “wrong” to evaluate student writing on an “engaging-boring” scale. He proposed that it is just as wrong to “deceive the learner into thinking that their writing is better than it is” and that “boring” doesn’t have to be the other end of the spectrum, but “not engaging”. The teachers were surprised to see that the students knew the difference between “engaging” and “not engaging” and quoted a student as saying, “you mean you don’t want it to be dull and boring? … Oh, we didn’t think that mattered in school writing” (2012). I find it interesting the student chose to use the “boring” word so the teacher wouldn’t have to, incredible. Assessing creativity is not only possible, but necessary for teachers to implement in their teaching and for students to gain more agency and innovation in their learning. For me as an educator, I have already been able to implement strategies learned in CEP 810 and received phenomenal response from my students. When a teacher connects with students like that, how can one not continue to try to make learning more designed around the 21st century learner? Considering my Squishy Circuits lesson, I feel that after a couple of revisions (stemmed from other ideas learned within the course) it is effective in meeting what a 21st century lesson ought to look like. The lesson is now full of students ‘playing’ to solve problems (stirring on  innovation), it meets all unique learner needs (UDL), and provides immediate feedback for students (students stay engaged with their learning progress). These three aspects, combined with the ideas of Wiggins for assessing creativity, result in a well-rounded 21st century lesson.

In my own personal evaluation of my growth as a learner in this course, I feel that I have pushed the limits of my previous knowledge of technology integration to something much more substantive. I would say that before this course, I would have been closer to the “digitizer” of instructional material instead of the “redesigner”. This course has taught me that sometimes, even as an adult, teachers need to learn alongside their students (my experience of learning Prezi against the clock) instead of always taking the place of the expert transferring knowledge. Also that authentic learning happens when we work collaboratively to solve problems and can engage in each of our own unique ideas. Most importantly, I’ve learned that, youths especially, need to play and work with their learning, making it much more meaningful and equipping them to be the innovative “makers” of tomorrow. All of this has reshaped how I view teaching, and I now feel ready to become less of a “digitizer” and more of a “redesigner” for the sake of my students.

References:

Edutopia. (2010, July 10). James Paul Gee on Grading with Games. Retrieved on June 25, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU3pwCD-ey0

TED. (2007, January 6). Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? Retrieved on June 25, 2014. from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY#t=1168

Wiggins, Grant P. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: yes you can and yes you should. [Web log]. Retrieved on June 25, 2014, from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/

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