formative assessment

Continuous Learning In The 21st Century Classroom

contributed by Felicia Zorn

Students who are nurtured in a blended learning environment develop the skills and necessities to experience college and career success.

When exposed to digital, personalized instruction, students are allowed to explore and expand their talents and interests. We are forging a generation capable of defining problems and generating solutions. Students are cultivating positive relationships. Utilizing online resources in the classroom provides alternate ways of learning for students.

The ability to shift and change in the workplace is a characteristic that identifies leadership. Investing in people is the business approach to creating sustainability and profit. Instead of hiring new workers, businesses will provide training and development for current employees. This methodology can be practiced in schools.

Today’s youth is already trained and equipped with technology. Educators can immerse students in a continuous learning classroom where knowledge is power and the internet is its guardian.

What Is Continuous Learning?

Perhaps a good definition of continuous learning is our drive to stay lifelong learners. As students mature, an important milestone, of course, is to become more intrinsically motivated. To develop these habits, students must learn beyond recalling facts; they must comprehend connections between the world and themselves, understand the implications of the content, and be able to apply this newfound knowledge to leading concepts.

An online-friendly classroom gives students the tools, such as USATestprep, needed to conduct research, evaluate processes, think critically to acquire mastery, cultivate logic and reasoning, and draw conclusions. Students can grow to communicate clearly with precise language, demonstrate ethical behavior and respect, and participate fully and freely in a community of global mutual independence.

As teachers, we are models for this behavior. A blended, digitally enhanced classroom is a platform on which we can promote these objectives. Teachers can exemplify online awareness and appreciation by designing new lessons that incorporate the technology that our students need. Thus, we are advocating for our students to also upgrade their learning targets and expectations.

Flipped & Blended Learning

A prime example of a blended learning environment is the Flipped Classroom model. According to the Flipped Learning Network, this is defined as “a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in subject matter.”

In a flipped classroom, the customary roles of the teacher and lesson are transformed into an innovative model that allows for student exploration and teacher guidance and support. For a flipped classroom, students leave the traditional classroom setting and independently interact with different resources: videos, texts, real-world application math problems, etc.

The next day, students return to school with the prior knowledge and background information on the lesson, based on the supplemental materials analyzed at home. Students are then led on a student-centered path to the curriculum with greater complexity and abundant learning opportunities. The teacher serves as a facilitator who provides meaningful, immediate feedback. Students with a firm grasp on the concept are allowed to enrich and investigate further while the teacher can reteach and remediate students who need additional support.

The end result of a blended classroom is to create expert learners. Students should be actively engaged with the goal of becoming competent and confident with subject matter, and ready and open to continuous learning in new spaces, with new tools and outcomes.

Felicia Zorn has taught both middle school in Georgia and elementary school in Tennessee. An Atlanta Falcons fan, she and her husband live outside Atlanta, GA.

image attribution Flickr user TulanePublicRelations