What makes the 21st century classroom so very different than the conventional style classroom we likely grew up with?
That's a question many educators are learning the answer to every day. It's not just the technology that has evolved. The way we learn is being challenged and new teaching methods are rising to the top. The classroom and the environment have truly become the third teacher and play a role in improving accountability, thus leading to better grades. The 21st century classroom encourages productivity and helps students experience skills that will help them in the workforce someday.
As teachers develop new teaching strategies that are quite different from those in a more traditional classroom setting, children are being prepared for new and exciting ways to create, collaborate, and adapt.
Students start to play a larger role in their learning experience. Teachers become more like guides rather than lecturers and allows students to be the facilitator. It becomes a matter of putting students' interest first and focusing on each student's learning style.
Computers and tablets are available in today's classrooms. For many, they replace the traditional pencil and paper. Technology allows students to conduct research on their own and learn at their own pace. The technological skills they learn today will help them become successful in the future as well.
Interactive, Collaborative Environment
Classrooms should be inviting and welcoming to all students. They contain the basic elements required for learning and teaching such as whiteboards, screens/monitors to project on, and comfortable seating and desks. Students are able to move seating around and bring their laptops and tablets to the table to collaborate. Not to mention, learning in groups can greatly enhance critical thinking skills.
Building 21st Century Skills
Our children are growing up in a technological era that didn't exist when Boomers or Gen X were learning in the traditional classroom.
Richard Riley, Former U.S. Secretary of Education, links America's future to its schools in stating, "Organizing our schools for success can only happen if we really think differently about how our schools are built and how they function." He goes on to state, "The Learning Generation needs access to a broad range of 21st century learning opportunities that cross the boundaries of home, school, and work. They need schools that challenge them to develop the information, communication, thinking, and collaborative problem solving abilities that will lead to success in a rapidly changing world."
In preparing our children for success, we are also teaching them to think and work differently. This generation will work in ways we haven't yet begun to imagine, and we probably will have a lot to learn from them.