So what else is important in this grant? The chance to change the paradigm of teaching. For teachers to develop themselves, for them to explore themselves, to update their own technological knowledge, to be able to develop critical thinking and not just reciting of facts. Students have shifted in their way of thinking according the Minister of Education of BC, and I agree. "In 21st Century Learning, students use educational technologies to apply knowledge to new situations, analyze information, collaborate, solve problems, and make decisions. Utilizing emerging technologies to provide expanded learning opportunities is critical to the success of future generations. Improved options and choice for students will help improve student completion and achievement." What does this statement imply for teachers? That we too must emerge with the technology and we too must develop new learning opportunities for students involving analyzing information and doing problem solving using technology. That means that teachers must make sure they teach critical thinking skills, problem solving skills (Most of these have been listed by the Developing Readers). One of the key Guiding Principles for Developing Readers in Surrey is that teachers - not programs - are central to a student's success. In the opinion of Surrey School District of BC no commercial product or resource, regardless of its quality, can be as effective as a knowledgeable teacher whose instructional decisions are based on students' needs and interests.
Proficient readers construct meaning. They don't wait for comprehension to happen; they make it happen. They interact with the text and use specific cognitive functions, or thinking processes, to facilitate and extend their comprehension. As identified and outlined by many researchers (Pichert and Anderson, 1977; Pearson, Duffy, and Roehler 1992; Anderson and Pearson 1984; Pressley 1976; Hansen 1982; Raphael 1984; Palinscar and Brown 1984; Brown, Day and Jones 1083), these processes include:
- setting a purpose for reading
- activating background knowledge
- monitoring comprehension
- determining what's important
- making inferences
- synthesizing and evaluating
Teachers now need to be able to instruct how to do this in regards to technology. Because of the Internet and all the technology around us the world of education is changing. The BC Ministry as come up with a list of 21st century skills that we need to teach to our students: reading, writing, numeracy, and 7 Cs: critical thinking and problem solving; creativity and innovation; collaboration, teamwork and leadership; cross-caring for personal health and planet earth. Their focus is on personalized learning (even differentiation learning), use of technology and online learning. Teachers are to be facilitators of learning, giving more choice for parents and students. Most of these skills are already being taught by a group of teachers but now we need all to be involved. With a mentorship program, with training of technology both of students and teachers, we could go farther, be better when what we are.
Lets open up the schools, the classrooms, let the students take control of their learning, let them share and teach the technology, with the teachers pushing for the learning, integrating the PLOs in this learning, while at the same time demonstrating a love of learning, critical thinking, and modelling the practises for students.
1. Critical thinking: A statement of expert consensus for purposes of educational assessment and instruction. ERI Document No. ED 315-423