If you're still using chalk and chalkboards, you may want to start thinking about new ways to engage your students in the digital age. And if you're not quite sure where to start, you're in luck: we've got four solid suggestions from Jim Warford, famed educator and former chancellor of Florida public schools .
Mr. Warford spoke to our entire company at Vision Conference a few weeks ago, and he left us with four ideas for revolutionizing our approach to teaching in the 21st century:
1. Close the engagement gap to close the achievement gap. Mr. Warford started his presentation by talking about some of the exciting things educators are doing to keep their students engaged. One teacher is "flipping" the classroom by creating videos of his lectures and assigning them as homework. He then uses class time to work on hands-on projects and answer questions about application.
Other teachers are using interactive software programs like Imagine Learning English to allow students to learn at their own pace on the computer. Mr. Warford pointed out that no matter what we do, if we want to close the achievement gap, we'll first need to do everything we can to close the engagement gap by keeping kids excited about learning and applying what they've learned across the curriculum.
2. Don't let delusional discrepancies prevent you from finding success. In a survey of teachers and students, Mr. Warford found several "delusional discrepancies" that are keeping us from successfully educating and engaging students in the 21st century. In one instance, 88 percent of teachers reported that they used lots of hands-on activities in their classrooms. However, only 45 percent of students agreed that their teachers used lots of hands-on activities. And this isn't just true of the school in the survey--there's data like that from all over the country. If we're going to successfully educate students in the 21st century, we'll need to face up to and address these delusional discrepancies.
3. Students today learn differently, so we need to teach differently. Mr. Warford believes that students today really are wired differently, which means that when it comes to teaching those students, business as usual simply won't cut it. He summed up this section of his presentation by stating that in the future, how we educate our students will be more important than how much we educate our students. In other words, 21st century students require a 21st century approach--more hands-on instruction, less drill-and-kill, and more practical application across disciplines.
4. Technology is not a threat. It can be easy to view technology as a threat -- especially when students use cell phones, iPods, and other mobile devices to get into all kinds of trouble at school. But the truth is that technology is our best bet for making education more effective and efficient. If we don't embrace technology and find ways to use it to our advantage in education, we will lose our students. For more information on using technology to cut costs and boost student learning, check out this post.
So now that you've heard Mr. Warford's suggestions, it's time to share some of your own. How can we be better educators in the 21st century? How can we better prepare our students for college and careers? Share your ideas in a comment below.