STEM: 21st Century Learning Design

21 CLD Teachers = 21 CLD students: Based on ITL Research evidence

There have been many pedagogical shifts happening within the past five years in order to focus on preparing students for jobs that don’t currently exist. The focus on STEM careers has been a particularly large emphasis within the educational world. So as an educator we know the students need to be able to speak with one another and problem solve- but is that going to prepare our students for the diverse work environments in which they will be working with global communities?

As a 5th grade teacher, the importance of exposing the students to difference technological pieces was a priority this year. The “why” remained the same, students are still being prepared for success. The “who” remained the same, the students have always been the forefront of the instructional decisions. The “what” remained the same, within our classroom the MAFS, NGSSS, CSS (computer science standards), and the SS standards are all being thoroughly addressed. However, as we began exploring different learning tools, a shift began to occur in regards to the structure of “HOW” we were learning, and according to the Innovative Teaching and Learning Research findings, this was indeed still a reality of the modern classroom.

Have you ever heard the following statements from a teacher who is justifying their technology integration as exemplary, “Oh wow… look at my students using the computers to watch the video and take notes”, or “Yes! We are using a digital worksheet. Go GREEN”? Unfortunately, as stated in the ITL research finding, “… blackboards and chalk have been replaced by laptops and data projectors, the majority of students are still in their traditional roles of information consumers rather than problem-solvers, innovators, and producers…”, I was not progressing with my ideas of technology integration what-so-ever, students were simply compliant consumers of the given directions in order to obtain the “best grade” possible. I, myself was making the above statements. I, the lover and enthusiast of all things ed tech, was providing a disservice by not fully developing a plan to include Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT).

” Key Findings from ITL Research in 2011
Innovative teaching supports students’ development of the skills that will help
them thrive in future life and work.

However, students’ opportunities to develop these skills are typically scarce
and uneven, both within and across the sample of schools in the study (across
all countries).

While ICT use in teaching is becoming more common, ICT use by students in
their learning is still an exception in many of these schools.

Innovative teaching practices are more likely to flourish when particular
supportive conditions are in place. These conditions include:

  • Teacher collaboration that focuses on peer support and the sharing of
    teaching practices.
  •  Professional development that involves the active and direct engagement
    of teachers, particularly in practicing and researching new teaching
  • A school culture that offers a common vision of innovation as well as
    consistent support that encourages new types of teaching.

While we saw examples of innovative teaching practices in the classes we
visited, a coherent and integrated set of conditions to support the adoption of
innovative teaching was lacking in most of the schools and all of the systems
in our sample.”

In order to enhance 21 CLD student learning, educators must walk the walk and practice what we preach. To become a more knowledgeable 21 CLD educator, one must immerse themselves in professional learning which supports the 21 CLD rubrics, and pedagogical shifts such as blended learning, hybrid learning, flipped learning, etc., build a network which can provide valid feedback and collaboration,  all the while strengthening their own knowledge of the content being taught.

In order to best prepare students for a successful 21 CLD  life, the educators must step out of the industrial assembly line teaching framework of accepting students as simply consumers, and allow for the change in students to become producers, innovators, and creators of their own learning.

For more information about the ITL Research, or the 21 CLD rubrics, please view the following link. 

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