Byron's Babbles

When Worlds Collide

Screen Shot 2020-08-25 at 9.43.38 AMLast week I did a professional development webinar for teachers where we were talking about one of my favorite topics that I am most passionate about – making learning relevant, authentic, and engaging. As we continue to try and disrupt education as we know it and move from a teacher-centric model to a student-centered model, there are two ways to go about this:

  1. Focus on making learning more customized to each student
  2. Focus on making learning more relevant, authentic, and engaging.

At times it seems these two foci collide. We also discussed how our students live in three worlds – school world, virtual world, and real world. Right now, as we enter day 164 of the Global Pandemic, I believe these worlds have collided as well. The point is we must truly be preparing our students for the complex, rapidly changing, technology driven, increasingly connected world they will face. I said that I thought there was a song about worlds colliding that is often played at football games. A participant quickly reminded me it was When Worlds Collide by Powerman 5000. Of course I had to listen to the song and check out the lyrics. I loved that one of the lines in the song that is about being strong and not giving up was, “What is it really that motivates you?” That is what we really must find out from each of our students; or, even help them find out for themselves.

Screen Shot 2020-08-25 at 9.43.18 AMStrategies for deeper learning that increase student engagement and produce the kinds of skills needed for today’s economy and career requirements can be improved by leveraging the practices of personalized learning allowing each student to get the kind of differentiated instruction needed to ensure that they have mastered the content.  Additionally, when implementing personalized learning students benefit when we balance their computer aided learning with robust, relevant, and authentic projects. And, guess what? When taught with these strategies, in this environment, students will be more engaged.

As our students’ worlds collide we have to remember that in the world outside of school, learning happens in real time as students begin to realize they need to know something. We must remember, however, that in the real world being knowledgeable is only part of what makes a student successful.  Making sense of the knowledge, communicating effectively with others about that knowledge, grappling with diverse perspectives, applying that knowledge, and validating their ideas are just as important. Our students must be able to adapt what they have learned to both predictable and unpredictable real world situations.