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Tomorrow’s Classroom

It’s a new year and it’s time to see what the future may hold. So let’s look at the top educational trends in 2019 and their affects on teachers and students. Two dominant curriculum trends are impacting educational publishing: the movement toward personalized learning and the need for critical thinking lessons.

The Personalized Learning Movement

Personalized learning is affecting how the curriculum is being developed and also how students’ work and learning is being assessed. Since 2012, fifteen states have implemented policies to support personalized learning, ranging from waiving regulations to set up innovation zones. New Hampshire is spearheading implementation of this trend. Across the nation, many districts are using digital online courses and products to implement personalized learning.

future classroom

Source: A National Landscape Scan of Personalized Learning in K-12 Education in the United States

As is true with all education trends and movements, if you ask ten educators to define personalized learning or what it means in classroom instruction and management, you will invariably get ten different answers. However, given that personalized learning depends on a variety of educational programs, learning experiences, instructional approaches, and student support strategies tailored to individual students, how could it have one definition?

The general idea behind personalized learning is to create a learning experience designed for each student with their specific needs in mind. One reason for the personalized learning movement is that educators want to avoid the one-learning-fits-all-students recipe. The multitude of approaches that can be used in personalized learning has major implications for many areas of curriculum development, such as online learning, competency-based instruction, adoption of NGSS (the new science standards), and critical thinking lessons.

The power of personalized learning is seeing students take ownership of their learning, with the teacher facilitating and enriching their course of study. Personalized learning puts the focus on what, how, and why students learn so that the learning is deep and connected.

The Need for more Critical Thinking Lessons

Another key trend affecting classrooms is the need for more critical thinking lessons across the curriculum areas. One important factor is the movement to more formative assessments vs. summative assessments, thus learning objectives are now focused on students’ critical thinking skills. These types of lessons also feed into the competency-based movement as well as the implementation of NGSS. Critical thinking lessons are also a result of the growing social and emotional learning (SEL) movement. Another curriculum area influencing this trend is civics. Educators are calling for more civics lessons in middle and high school that enable students to evaluate information and understand factual information vs. opinion-based information by discriminating between unbiased reporting and persuasive rhetoric. These curriculum changes at the district and state levels represent a growth opportunity in the publishers’ market.

How Classrooms are Adapting to Trends

How are classrooms adapting to key curriculum trends that are gaining momentum and, in some cases, becoming dominant methods of pedagogy?

With both personalized learning and critical thinking lessons, the teacher often works more as a facilitator than a direct instructor. Gone are the days of the lecture and rote learning of facts that will later be tested. Thinking processes and connectivity of ideas and relationships between content knowledge now is gaining ascendance in pedagogy. This impacts everything from classroom management to the physical setup of the classroom, including the tools that students use to demonstrate their learning.

Classrooms will be “learning pods” where students work collaboratively, taking deep dives into learning. They will explore topics of interest, spending weeks on discovering, evaluating, and synthesizing the topic. Projects will allow students to demonstrate their competency in a particular subject.

Students will use an array of tools to showcase their knowledge. Tools will include:
➢ Technology that allows for dynamic and integrated presentations (podcasts, power points, videos)
➢ Using diverse mediums to demonstrate a nuanced understanding of events and people (drama, music, and art)
➢ Different methods of research that encompass more than Internet searches (interviews with participants in events, use of primary sources, and working with experts within specific fields of knowledge)
➢ Utilizing social media to link students to share their learning

The “learning pods” are similar to learning centers. They make use of technology, such as online course and digital experiences, to expand learning.

For the teacher to facilitate the “learning pods,” the physical setup of the class needs to change. Actual pods need to be set up within the class. The pods and students’ materials are dictated by the topics and objectives of the learning experience. The facilitator helps shape learning by assisting and guiding students to work toward their goals and by providing models of learning as needed. Students, in turn, work collaboratively and independently, but come together as a whole class to share learning.

Sounds like a noisy classroom, right? It is, but the noise is the excitement of students sharing their learning and expanding on it as they make connections, devise new learning paths, and demonstrate their competency.

It’s a challenge to create materials that will foster this classroom and engage students and teachers in this learning process, but at Victory, we’re prepared to see it become a reality.


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