Thursday / April 25

Change Your Classroom to Meet Your Students’ Needs

Contributed by Ken Halla

Change seems to be a word that strikes fear in many teachers’ minds. Perhaps it is the solitary nature of being in a room devoid of other adults. But kids are changing and doing so markedly fast. According to Shift Happens, 65% of today’s elementary students will hold jobs that do not yet exist and will work with at least ten different employers before they are 40. Yet as Ken Robinson argued so eloquently, most of us are still educating students in a 20th Century industrial model with group learning objectives based on the age of the student rather than the needs of the individual.

To best serve our students, we need to meet them in their world allowing them to use multiple devices in the classroom; giving them higher level Bloom’s assignments. (And yes, I know this would be much easier if the AP/IB and state exams were created in similar fashion.) But no child is going to go into a job with multiple choice questions. Rather, there will be many choices and no best ones. But how can you help in your classroom?

As teachers we need to:

  1. Get to know your students; both as individuals and intellectually.
  2. Expand our collaborative teams by following and working with other educators we find on  Twitter, Google+, in blogs, and even books.
  3. Work with your school systems to allow or purchase more Internet-ready tools in your classroom.
  4. Try flipping your classroom. You can learn how to make videos with the free application Screencastomatic by going here and find lots of ones here and here.
  5. Realize that students need to perform the problem solving assignments in class and that you have to move around the room and act as a facilitator, realizing that not all students will move at the same pace – oh and they may need to take an assessment over again to reach full potential.
  6. Know that a textbook isn’t a bible and is only one resource. Act like your students and search for new resources online to create dynamic lessons for your pupils that foster creativity and higher level thinking skills.
  7. Understand that these steps will not be easily done and may mean missteps, but as with your students, you too, will be given a second chance assessment!

If you want to see how to implement all of the steps above, you can read Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction which not only has step by step processes to use technology for the aforementioned suggestions, but also has examples and assignments for teachers to motivate change in their classrooms.



Kenneth P. HallaDr. Halla, a national board certified teacher, is a social studies department chair in Fairfax County and is heading into his 25th year of teaching. You can follow Halla’s moves in education on Twitter at @kenhalla. He is the author of Deeper Learning Through Technology.


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