As the 21st century learning style continues to evolve, the rear view mirror can provide a deft perspective in navigating the future learning styles of your students.
Today’s learners are not sitting in yesterday’s teacher-driven classroom simply absorbing information. They are self-directed collaborators, critical thinkers, and problem-solvers with a voice and a vision, yearning to create and participate. In today’s classroom, technology has played a pivotal role in advancing 21st century pedagogy.
When Rhonda Eberst, a librarian at Summit Elementary Living Library in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, wanted to upgrade her media space, she knew technology would guide the transformation and created a “Living Library”. Her goal? To let history bridge the cornerstones of the past with today’s 21st century learner and create a classic library museum. Here’s how she did it:
1. By embracing history
Eberst felt an upgrade was needed for the school’s media space but wanted to use history as a backdrop. As she explains, students are children of technology. They do not know a world without iPhones, iPads, or virtual video games. “With iReaders and eBooks, many feel paper books on the shelves are gathering dust and not engaging. I disagree with that thought.” She wanted to put books in their hands and a whole lot more. She collected classic items such as a rabbit-eared black and white television, an old typewriter, a telephone booth, a VCR, and an 8-track tape player to eventually put in a “library museum”. She added old theatre seats, an 8mm projector, vintage desks and a record player. She rekindled yesterday’s technology, enriching her students’ background knowledge, and broadening their curiosity. Imagine a kindergarten student inside a phone booth asking, “How do you text?”
2. By including students’ voices
Before creating the museum, however, Ebert wanted her students to be a vital part of the planning process so they could identify their own learning styles, become motivated, and be invested in the overall project. Eberst let her creative, innovative thinkers “curate” their own learning and prove why they deserved to be on the “Museum Team”. By way of an application process and a Batelle STEM grant, students were able to mimic the job interview process. They brought their uniqueness and voice with PowerPoints and videos to present their information. Over 150 applications fought to be a part of the project. Sixty students were interviewed, and 30 were selected (and thrilled) to be on the team.
3. By replicating successful models
Once her team was chosen, Eberst arranged a behind-the-scenes tour with the Columbus Museum of Art so her “curators” could gather ideas. They practiced their interviewing skills, note-taking skills, and studied how exhibits targeted an audience. They became architects of their own learning. They designed the entire space, including the shelves, photographs, and display cases for the FAB LAB. They planned a grand opening, created invitations, a guest list, and food. Eberst succeeded in creating a space that allowed students to reflect on technology’s past and its role in the future for the 21st century learner. “It’s overwhelming and humbling to have your dream and vision come to life,” she said. “It’s even more exciting when that vision comes to life at the hands of students who are learning skills that they will be able to take with them well into adulthood.”
Next week, look for an article about galleries for your library museum.
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