We’ve been spending time every couple weeks working with the Admin Team, led by the Tech Department, to explore and dig deeply into the ISTE Standards for Students. It’s been a wonderful way for us to stop and think about the student experience at AC, especially as it relates to their engagement with the digital world. The last time we met we dove deep into Standards three and four, exploring how it might look for students to be meeting these standards here at Academia Cotopaxi. After taking some time to reflect on this conversation and look around school for ways that our students are meeting these standards, it has become very clear that we are already on the right track.
Becoming a “Knowledge Constructor” is the main idea of Standard number three. The exact language of this standard is, “Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.” It struck me as I digested that standard a little more that this is exactly what I do when I write my usual blog posts. I curate resources on whatever topic may have caught my fancy for the week, I then produce a creative artifact (my blog post) which creates a meaningful learning experience for me (and hopefully for anyone who reads my post!) Cool, I’m a Knowledge Constructor! Then I got to thinking about our students, is this happening in our school and, if so, where and with what frequency? So I went looking…I wanted to find examples of our students as “Knowledge Constructors” in different contexts, here is what I found:
We are helping our students become “Knowledge Constructors” all over school, in many different contexts. From Humanities, to Math, to Science class and beyond, we are offering our students the chance to curate resources and construct their own knowledge as part of the learning process.
We’re also doing it ourselves as educators…How do you Steep your tea?
My overall impression is that our students have the opportunities educationally to be “knowledge constructors” in a lot more contexts than I had imagined. Design Technology class, sure, that’s an obvious one. Even the Humanities classes seems obvious. However, it’s happening in Math, Science, Art…seemingly everywhere!
Next, we came to Standard number four, “Innovative Designer,” Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions. I was confronted with a harsh reality: I don’t know the whole “design process” off the top of my head…I know it exists, I’ve worked with it before, and I’ve seen it maneuvered by students over the years but I still haven’t internalized it. Now, to be fair, when you Google “Design Process” there are a few different versions of the design process. However, this is the most common version and the one I am familiar with from my past experiences.
By Aflafla1 [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
I think the “deployment” arrow should really loop back around to the “Initial Planning” arrow, as it is truly a never ending cycle starting with an “alpha” version, moving to a “beta” and then on and on into production and versions 2.0 etc.
Anyway, the “Innovative Designer” standard was harder to chew on than its “Knowledge Constructor” counterpart. Looking at our school for Innovative Designers was fun but a little frustrating at the same time:
^ There should’ve been a picture with that one…Tweet fail 😦
So, why was it frustrating to find examples of ISTE standard number four? Well, I was frustrated because I couldn’t find examples in a diverse range of classrooms like I could with Standard number three. Design Tech, Humanities, and Science…these are all obvious to me. Now, to be fair, what I did find in those areas was exciting…Rube Goldberg Machines, Stop Motion, Bridge Challenge, Speech Competitions all in the same week….awesome!
BUT…where are the “Innovative Designers” when it comes to the other classes? The same students are enrolled in Math, Spanish, Music, PE, and other classes…where is the Innovative Design in those classes? (Again, in fairness, I didn’t do an exhaustive search and it was brief.) It’s quite easy to imagine students writing their own compositions in Music class instead of always playing someone else’s stuff. Similarly in PE…creating their own games or exercise routines. Art, I can only imagine that I just didn’t catch the right day…they’re always creating their own stuff, but how ‘innovative’ is it and does it solve a problem? The opportunity is there and we certainly have students capable of being ‘innovative’…they just need the chance!
Lastly, about standard four, is the part I see as most crucial – following the design process. This is something that our teachers are going to need to learn and practice. I would wager that the majority, if not all, of our teachers have little to no experience with the design process and what it means to lead students through that cycle. It’s not easy and takes some practice for sure. However, the rewards are HUGE and totally worth the effort…I believe that our teachers will see that and completely buy in!
At the end of this reflection process it’s become clear to me that we’re on the right track, our teachers and students are working toward the ISTE standards three and four whether they know it or not. We’re much closer with number three, Knowledge Constructor, than we are with standard four, Innovative Designer. The difference isn’t a lack of desire on our teachers or students part but, in all likelihood, a lack of information…we need to help move them further along toward understanding of this standard.
For me this was a great experience, full of eye-opening classroom visits and wonderful conversations with kids about their designs! So much fun!!!