By Lani Aquino
There is never a short supply of new ideas, practices, and initiatives for teachers to utilize. Selecting the right fits for diverse groups of students and a variety of learning goals and objectives often boils down to resources and teacher comfort levels. The New Year is a perfect time to take a look at the strategies and practices that are currently in place and determine whether a refresh would be in the best interest of all.
This doesn’t equate to reinventing the wheel, but it’s more in the line with bedazzling the spokes. While some new aesthetics are always a welcome refresh, there is a lot to be said for taking time at the New Year to add some pedagogical bling to the both the learning environment and the learning itself. These 5 facets are perfect starting points.
Grading Practices- Midyear may not be the most conducive time for revamping grading practices, but it can be a great time for a trial run. While teachers may not be ready to fully embrace a gradeless or standards-based grading program, planning a unit, project, or activity where the philosophy is instituted is a great way to test the waters.
Assessments- Take those tired assessments and give them a modern refresh. Steer clear of fill-in-the-blank and rote memorization. Get students more involved in their learning and more likely to internalize concepts through the usage of hands-on assessments, formative assessments to guide learning, and summative assessments that allow for choices in showcasing knowledge.
Strategies & Practices- For teachers that have been hearing about, reading about, or wondering about strategies and practices like blended learning, personalized learning, digital literacy, and the like, stop putting it off and start planning. Revamp an old lesson or try something completely new that institutes a strategy or practice that has been sitting on the backburner waiting to be implemented.
Resources- Buying all the latest in edtech gadgets and components would certainly revamp the resource collection, but costly endeavors aren’t the only way to refresh some tired resources. There are innumerable free and low-cost digital apps and platforms that can transform both learning and skill study. Integration of VR and AR can be done with a singular device and open up new windows and worlds for learning.
Classroom Design- While a complete overhaul with new flexible seating would be amazing, classroom design can be modified on a budget too. Take the existing elements and reconfigure them into smaller learning spaces and/or stations. A refresh and repurpose of the physical environment can do wonders for the mentality students have upon entering it.
A New Year refresh doesn’t require revamping the budget. Oftentimes a refresh to the learning environment and the practices that occur within it simply requires a refresh to how teachers approach the usage of strategies and resources. Taking a look at grading, assessments, strategies and practices, resources, and classroom design through a new and/or updated lens can do wonders for how students engage with learning.
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