When you first learn to design a Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom, you are faced with the paradigm shift of launching each unit of study with an authentic, open-ended, real-world problem to solve. You start by thinking through the problems students could solve at the end of a five-week unit if they learned everything. Designing the problem-based task statement is just the beginning.
Imagine the task as the gift box that excites students to delve into all of the rich and diverse opportunities to learn. Your next step, therefore, is to fill the unit by building a collection of learning opportunities. My latest video discusses this metaphor in more detail.
Learning opportunities include whole-class lessons, small-group lessons, teacher facilitation, and learning activities. Much of the learning in a Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom takes place through learning activities, rather than teacher dissemination of knowledge through lessons. Unlike activities to practice learning, learning activities should be narrowly focused on a skill or concept, include step-by-step direct instruction, and provide the student with some level of feedback. When designing learning activities, consider the following:
- What is the grade level standard to be met?
- All students must meet this standard.
- What is the “end” of the standard and what are the “means” of achieving it?
- Be careful to not just teach the means, but ensure students achieve the standard completely.
- What prerequisites would be needed?
- Some students may need help in mastering prerequisites first, but they cannot stop there; they must achieve the grade level standard.
- What learning activities can you find or design that provide concept exploration or direct instruction in skills, including a variety of learning modalities, related to the standard?
- Differentiation should include not only cognitive differences, but learning style differences.
- What supports/scaffolding could you put in place for students, such as partner work, how-to sheet or video, peer expert board, help board, and teacher facilitation?
- Once involved in an activity, how can you ensure students will meet with success?
Rigor means ensuring that all students are learning at high levels of understanding and application of at least the grade-level standards. With LATIC students taking greater responsibility for their learning, teachers are freed up to engage more powerfully through facilitation toward greater rigor. Make your gift to your students complete with powerful opportunities to learn. Change the world!