Wow! 2020 was definitely a year to remember (or not). While it went quickly in so many ways, it also went by so slowly. It's easy to focus on all of the negative because, let's be honest, there was SO MUCH of it. However, there were also many positive outcomes that will change the way that we do things from here on out.
We've all talked about sustainable change in education for some time. We've known that it was important for technology to become a priority and realized the importance of collaboration. However, knowing the importance of something and actually prioritizing those actions are two different things.
2020 had a way of leveling the playing field. Let me explain...there was no district, campus, or classroom that was totally prepared for what we've experienced. There were no best practices, no blog posts, no YouTube videos, and no podcasts that you could listen regarding emergency remote learning during a pandemic. I would go out on a limb and say that no one knew how it could be done in those first few days. And then...magic began to happen. Teachers began to try new things, experiment with new ideas, and share their experiences. Some things worked, some things didn't, but the reality is that we will never be the same.
Learning looks different right now. Knowing what students truly understand is difficult but more important than ever before. In order to differentiate and make learning meaningful, we have to be able to "see" what is being learned. Documentation of learning is something that should be carefully considered and done in a way that is both manageable for educators and meaningful for our learners.
So, what does that look like? How do we encourage documentation of learning and how can we do it in a way that makes sense for both in class and at home learners. First of all, I think we have to consider what we are looking for within the documentation of the learning. Below are some essential pieces of learning that I consider to be very important...
PBL, Project-Based Learning, has a big impact on learners. Edutopia describes this way of learning as "a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge." Sounds like a good idea, yes? Definitely sounds like something that might result in true engagement from our learners. I often say that completing work, paying attention, or logging into an LMS is not engagement. That's compliance. Engagement is a willingness to invest in the learning. In my own experience, I have seen more of a willingness to invest when I made project-based learning a priority in my classroom.
I was recently asked why, with all we know about the benefits of PBL, this type of learning isn't more of of a reality within our current educational landscape. Several things came to mind with the first being time. Planning and implementing project-based learning requires time to plan, time to collaborate, and time to provide feedback. It requires a different planning mindset and can seem quite overwhelming.