There is a lot of talk about bringing creativity into the standards-based classroom. What does creativity mean to you? Does this mean that a teacher is defining the type of curriculum and classroom environment? Or does it mean that students have a say in what they learn?
I want to challenge you to think way outside the box about this. If we are going to design a learning environment where students are creative critical thinkers that have the skills to be collaborative global citizens and become the best they can be, the focus needs to be on the learner. If we do this, then everything changes: the school, the classroom, teacher education programs, administration, and the relationship with the school with the school community especially the parents.
I was reading today about the number of jobs available and that there are not enough people qualified in the US for high tech talent. Tapan Munroe stated in “It’s a seller’s market in some fields of work” that it is a myth that there aren’t job openings in America. Education is focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to help build these skills, but the US student is just not prepared to fill these jobs. US launched the Common Core standards that are separate skills that do not seem to relate to today’s kids. We have all the standards in My eCoach and teachers match their projects to them. We have people who are adding resources and projects to the standards. Here are two seventh grade Common Core Math standards:
Analyze proportional relationships and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems. MATH-RPR.7.3. Use proportional relationships to solve multistep ratio and percent problems. Examples: simple interest, tax, markups and markdowns, gratuities and commissions, fees, percent increase and decrease, percent error. Expressions & Equations
Solve real-life and mathematical problems using numerical and algebraic expressions and equations.
MATH-EE.7.3. Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies. For example: If a woman making $25 an hour gets a 10% raise, she will make an additional 1/10 of her salary an hour, or $2.50, for a new salary of $27.50. If you want to place a towel bar 9 3/4 inches long in the center of a door that is 27 1/2 inches wide, you will need to place the bar about 9 inches from each edge; this estimate can be used as a check on the exact computation.
How do you use this in a real-world situation? I asked Ken Bakken who is an eCoach on my team to help some 7th grade teachers create a real-world project that would make sense to students. Percentages can Make and Save you Money
This is still teacher-driven curriculum but it is a step in the right direction. The idea is to make the curriculum real to the learner. What if we tried a different approach where learners were given a problem or concept and they came up with the driving questions? Give them some real-world concepts like…
- Climate Change
- Water Quality
- The Price of Oil
If you look at one of these concepts, you could probably think of questions that will engage students in amazing discourse. Letting go is good. Let the students brainstorm the questions. Give them the standards and what is expected of them and then let them go again. Let them co-design the activities based on the standards. You provide the structure, the guidelines, and facilitate learning and collaboration. Just watch the creativity take off.