THEORY & PRACTICE
“The mind cannot get what the seat cannot endure.”
- June Teisan, Michigan State Teacher of the Year 2007 (borrowed from Winston Churchill)
The world is our classroom. The Model Classroom Program embraces the idea that learning happens anywhere and everywhere- especially with the tools available in our connected modern world. What’s more, new skills and literacies are essential to the 21st century classroom. Rather than just give lip service to this trendy topic, Model Classroom is a professional development + program that gives teachers the tools and support necessary to truly implement this type of learning with their students.
The New learning Mindset
There’s a misconception that new learning is technology integration. In fact, it’s not so much about the what (technology itself) as it is about the how (how we use technology for learning).
So, what exactly do we mean by new learning? The new learning mindset celebrates the explosion of opportunities that empower youth to have a voice in society and take action on issues they care about. A wide range of new media tools makes these real world engagements possible. In using these tools to solve real world problems, youth gain essential 21st century skills and knowledge. These 21st century skills: communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical-thinking are really not so new. What is new is how kids build these skills using new media, and the realization that they have a voice and can effectively engage in real world action.
We wanted to know: How could we take the new learning mindset into schools?
The Classroom Remix:
Although the image of schools being stuck in the metaphorical 20th century “swamp” is pervasive, we’re forward-thinking.
While tools and access to technology are essential parts of the equation, The Model Classroom is about utilizing an approach and process that facilitates meaningful student engagements. In the simplest terms, the Model Classroom foundation is just good old-fashioned Project-based Learning. What makes us a little bit different (one might even say “more 21st century”) is the approach and problem-solving process we use in project-based learning. We approach projects with an authentic, or real world, problem (something kids can effectively address, and maybe even solve). We ask students to employ design thinking as they work through the process of addressing their problem. Design thinking is creative thinking and problem-solving in action. This process relies on cycles of brainstorming and ideation, iterative prototyping, and feedback from peers and experts. This combination of approach and process is what encourages students to employ the new learning mindset- or rather, the 21st century skills discussed above. When we mix these things all together in our Model Classroom laboratories, the resulting projects are nothing short of amazing.