Classrooms of the future — what will they look like?

Students and staff at Masconomet High School presented a live demonstration of the future of education in “A Day in the Life of Our Students” Thursday, Feb. 2 in the auditorium and Middle School Library.

 Supt. Dr. Darrell Lockwood addressed the crowd of over 50 people. “The district has a vision for what a 21st century school experience would be like. We have taken steps to move toward that vision,” he said.

The night provided an informative and interactive look at what technologies students are currently testing in and outside of the classroom for educational purposes.

“In an effort to test and evaluate emerging 21st century practices to determine how and if they truly improve teaching and learning as well as infrastructures necessary to support these initiatives, the district has been piloting many programs,” said Lockwood.

A survey of the performance and technology used in the classroom was given to those in attendance and results will be posted on Masco’s website.

 

Public education

In the first act a brief video titled “Education Past, Present, and Future” provided an entertaining and thought-provoking introduction to the topic of technology in the classroom.

The video, which was written and produced by Masco staff members last year, highlights the issues and challenges faced by schools as they create learning experiences using 21st century technologies that promote 21st century skills.

The narrator for the short video said, “To parents and most of the public, the purpose of public education is crystal clear. Public school have been established to teach our youth the academic knowledge that will equip them with the necessary skills to seek gainful employment or to go on to higher learning.”

Sir Ken Robinson, an author, speaker and international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits and education, has several interesting theories on public education that were shown in the video.

He makes an entertaining and moving case for creating an education system that nurtures rather than undermines creativity.

Sir Robinson asked, “How do we educate our children to take their place in the economies of the 21st century given that we can’t anticipate what the economy will look like at the end of next week?”

“The unpredictability [of the future] is extraordinary,” said Sir Robinson.

“The problem is the current education system was designed and conceived and structured for a different age,” said Sir Robinson. “It was conceived in the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment and the economic circumstance of the Industrial Revolution.”

Sir Robinson stressed changes need to be made in public education in order to adapt to the needs of this century and beyond.

 

Technology at home

The second act of the event featured skits by Masconomet students/faculty including one that portrayed how technology is being used at home to assist with homework.

 Sam, played by Masco student Kelsey McAlarney, is at home preparing for a class the next day that will focus on earthquakes. Her mother, played by Masco student Lia Madeline Fitzsimmons, is trying to keep her on task and is concerned because Sam seems to be socializing on her computer.

Sam explains to her mother that her teacher Mr. King posted the lesson on the learning management system, a school site where students can check assignments, grades, class discussions, view articles for class, search the textbook and get copies of notes and handouts.    

Sam tells her mother she is watching a video on earthquakes with her classmate Jess and they are collaborating their notes on GoogleDocs.

When the girls have a question about the Richter scale, Sam contacts a professor from Northeastern University via video chat that the teacher, Mr. King, set up.

Professor Morse was able to give Sam a link to a website which explains the Richter scale. Sam shares the link with Jess.

This skit showcases several skills and attributes including the teacher’s focus on communication and collaboration tools and skills, problem solving and the efficiency of 24/7-access to information.

 

Technology in the classroom

The next day Jess goes to Mr. King’s science class with her tablet. All the students in the class have either a tablet or a netbook.

Mr. King reviews the results of an online quiz his students completed the night before on a Mimo Board (similar to a SmartBoard) and identifies one concept that remains unclear to students.

Students use their netbooks and tablets to learn more about the Richter scale.

Mr. King and his students also utilize the student management system, which is a digital classroom that has resources to help in the classroom to explain hard to grasp concepts.

In summary, this skit displayed student-centered learning with teacher guidance and coaching. Communication and collaboration are integral to the learning process as students develop critical thinking skills.  

 

In the Library media center

The library media center is nowto be a hub for instructional resources and support.  During last week’s program, four stations were set up in the middle school library showing how technology is used inside and outside the classroom to strengthen learning.

A typical day in the library includes: science students conducting research using databases to create presentations and prepare for a debate; a Foreign language student’ss video conferencing with native speaking students from other countries about current events and local perspectives in Spanish/French/Chinese; English students using a web-based instructional tool to practice skills and prepare for a test; social studies students engaging in a global classroom experience with students from other parts of the world.

In one area of the library 8th grade students prepare for the MCAS using Study Island, a web-based resource, which allows students to participate anytime from anywhere to focus on various aspects of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.

Topics consist of questions, answer explanations and lessons that address specific skills required in order to master the Massachusetts standards.

In another area students from Mrs. Mirra’s high school Spanish class were video chatting with students from Spain. Students will utilize video chatting technology with students from Spain on a monthly basis to practice their Spanish and increase their cultural understanding as well as global awareness.

Many of these activities demonstrated interdisciplinary approaches that enhance learning experiences. Instructional and communication technologies enhance critical thinking skills, facilitate team building, promote global awareness and facilitate collaboration, creativity, and communication.

 

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