A Problem of Practice
A problem of practice within my current position at the American School Foundation of Monterrey (ASFM) is the lack of opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge of content in a creative manner, particularly in a science unit covering electricity. Generally, students comprehend the content of circuitry and the movement of electrons quite well, but each student shows their understanding of this content in the same format and with the same technology being implemented, an electrical quiz board.
The problems I see with this scenario are the expectations we place on our students and the context of a school wide goal we have for moving our students thinking skills forward. The goal is based around the development of 21st Century Skills through the use of technology- particularly critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. While there are opportunities for the development of these skills in our literacy units, our content areas of science and social studies rarely, if ever, set students up for the opportunity to apply their knowledge of content while developing these skills. Content is often taught with the teacher being the holder of knowledge and the students receiving the information. While there are some abstract concepts in this unit, in which direct instruction is needed, there is room for improvement to allow students to create meaning and collaborate with each other when thinking critically about the content of electricity. Other teachers in the intermediate grade levels speak of the lack of opportunities for students to explore these avenues in the content areas. When students are presented with real life problems they lack the skills to solve these problems unless they are heavily directed.
There is also a limited use of technology in this electricity unit. Standard tools are being applied; batteries, wires, bulbs, and sockets, yet we have access to tools we are not currently utilizing. The electricity unit would be a great place to start to implement changes based on the pedagogical strategies and technology currently being used, with the goal of allowing students to construct their own understanding of electricity, with teacher facilitation, and the use of a broad range of technology tools to help them do so.
Read on to the Project Transformation