February 27, 2017

How Do You Define 21st-Century Learning?

The term "21st-century skills" is generally used to refer to certain core competencies such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving that advocates believe schools need to teach to help students thrive in today's world. In a broader sense, however, the idea of what learning in the 21st century should look like is open to interpretation—and controversy.

Twenty-first-century learning embodies an approach to teaching that marries content to skill. Without skills, students are left to memorize facts, recall details for worksheets, and relegate their educational experience to passivity. Without content, students may engage in problem-solving or team-working experiences that fall into triviality, into relevance without rigor. Instead, the 21st-century learning paradigm offers an opportunity to synergize the margins of the content vs. skills debate and bring it into a framework that dispels these dichotomies. Twenty-first-century learning means hearkening to cornerstones of the past to help us navigate our future. Embracing a 21st-century learning model requires consideration of those elements that could comprise such a shift: creating learners who take intellectual risks, fostering learning dispositions, and nurturing school communities where everyone is a learner.

From: Education Week

February 26, 2017

A story

There was a nice young teacher in a new certificated Dalton Kindergarten somewhere in Europe.

It was almost Easter and of course she wanted to bring her classroom in the right atmosphere.

She found a nice and simple design of Easter-chicks, made one example herself and prepared all the material the children needed in the right sizes.

She presented her own example and integrated it in a nice story. In such a way, only Kindergarten teachers can tell it.

After the introduction, immediately time to work.

All the children at that same moment.

The teacher was running around, helping here, giving advice there . . .

And see the result.

The teacher was very happy with all the individual differences.

“They did it all by themselves”.

But there was one boy in the classroom who didn’t like the task.

So stupid these chicks.

An Easter bunny is much nicer.

Without asking the teacher he went to the drawer with the colored paper, and took what he needed.

With his tongue out of his mouth he started to work.

When finished, he proudly presented his bunny to the teacher.
It’s time, dear readers, to finish this story yourself.
Which feed-back would you give to the teacher?

February 25, 2017

To think about

As students have access to any information possible, there certainly is no need to "spoon-feed" the knowledge or teach "one-size fits all" content. As students have different personalities, goals, and needs, offering personalized instructions is not just possible but also desirable. When students can make their own choices, they own their learning, increase intrinsic motivation, and put in more effort -- an ideal recipe for better learning outcomes!

February 22, 2017

Let them experiment to get a smiling face.

February 20, 2017

15 March 2017 'Dalton Day'

In the Netherlands has grown a good tradition.
Every year, on the third Fiday in March, all Dalton schools open their doors for everyone who like to observe the Dalton Education.
It would be great if all Dalton schools in Europe follow this tradition.

In Dutch Dalton schools will be 100.000 students in short time. This will be celebrated in a new Dalton school very soon.

February 18, 2017

Happy Birthday

Jürgen Peters, President of Dalton Austria is celebrating his birthday.

February 17, 2017

Dalton in the 21st Century

Four slides from my PPT presentation about 21st Century Skills

Of course the most interesting point is to find the realtion with our Dalton pillars.

February 16, 2017

Dalton study by Piet van der Ploeg

Apart from John Dewey, no American educational reformer has been as internationally successful and influential as Helen Parkhurst, the founder of Dalton education. In the 1920s and 1930s, Dalton education was spread throughout the world. Now, the Netherlands is the country with the highest density of Dalton schools. Almost four hundred elementary schools (five percent of all) are Dalton schools. This historical and theoretical study gives an account of the practice and the theory of the Dalton Plan. Next it discusses the background and context of the Dalton Plan. It also compares the Dalton Plan to other critical and innovative approaches to education. Helen Parkhurst was herself not keen on historical and theoretical exercises. This study shows that historical and theoretical research is interesting nonetheless. It demonstrates the distinctiveness of Dalton education, for instance:
*that learning by experience is not the same as learning by doing and that experience doesn’t have the same role for Parkhurst as it does for other reformers;
*that there are important differences between working with assignments in the Dalton Plan and working with materials in the Montessori Method;
*that the Dalton Plan holds efficiency as its main objective, whilst at the same time opposing the efficiency-hype seen at the beginning of the twentieth century;
*that the meaning of cooperation in the Dalton Plan is not the same as what we usually mean by this;
*that Parkhurst's school as a community distinguishes itself from Dewey's school as a community; and
*that freedom in the Dalton Plan is something else  than freedom of choice

Text by author

February 14, 2017


Cooperative learning is more than working together

Students who engage in cooperative learning learn significantly more, remember it longer, and develop better critical-thinking skills than their counterparts in traditional lecture classes.
Students enjoy cooperative learning more than traditional lecture classes, so they are more likely to attend classes and finish the course.
Students are going to go on to jobs that require teamwork. Cooperative learning helps students develop the skills necessary to work on projects too difficult and complex for any one person to do in a reasonable amount of time.
In small groups, students can share strengths and develop their weaker skills. They develop their interpersonal skills. They learn to deal with conflict. When cooperative groups are guided by clear objectives, students engage in numerous activities that improve their understanding of subjects explored.

To create an environment in which cooperative learning can take place, three things are necessary.
First, students need to feel safe, but also challenged.
Second, groups need to be small enough that everyone can contribute.
Third, the task students work together on must be clearly defined. The cooperative and collaborative learning techniques presented here should help make this possible for teachers.

Also, in cooperative learning small groups provide a place where:
  • learners actively participate;
  • teachers become learners at times, and learners sometimes teach;
  • respect is given to every member;
  • projects and questions interest and challenge students;
  • diversity is celebrated, and all contributions are valued;
  • students learn skills for resolving conflicts when they arise;
  • members draw upon their experience and knowledge;
  • goals are clearly identified and used as a guide;
  • research tools such as Internet access are made available;

February 12, 2017

February 11, 2017

February 10, 2017

The classroom of the future

The Physical Space
The days of classrooms where a teacher desk sits at the front of the classroom and students’ desks are neatly aligned in rows are over. Learning technologies, and changing pedagogical methods, are not only changing the way we teach but also the physical environments we teach in. The role physical environments play in our learning is just beginning to be studied and understood. Akinsanmi (2011) asserts that “there is little research on the role the physical environment plays in the learning process” but more and more educations theorist and psychologists are beginning to offer perspectives “from which designers can conceptualize the creation of an optimal learning environment” (The Optimal Learning). One thing that is clear from the research of the physical spaces which make up learning environments is that current classrooms seldom facilitate 21st century learning.
A study done by the Herman Miller Company (2011) on adaptable spaces and their impact on learning identified four key constructs that affect student learning; Basic Human Need, Teaching, Learning, and Engagement. Herman Miller assert that there is a “pedagogical value of a comfortable chair” and that by “recognizing the impact that physical comfort has is support of pedagogy, and designing flexible, comfortable learning spaces enhances the experience of both faculty and students.” When classroom furniture is easily moved to allow for comfort and practicality students’ learning experience was heightened with increased seating comfort (32%), being able to clearly understand the professor (14%), and view materials (17%). Besides students being better serviced by redesigned and malleable classrooms educators also reported the benefits of increased lighting, better access to internet connections, improved ability to hear students and having more whiteboard space (p. 3,5).

The research summary also highlighted the fact that with regard to teaching “emerging discoveries about how people learn, rapid advancements in technology, and heightened awareness of student expectations” were what caused the most pedagogical changes and in order for teachers to take advantage of these changes teaching spaces must be able to utilize new technologies and have classroom “flexible enough to accommodate different teaching styles”. Adaptable learning spaces also better facilitate learning especially since the “meaning of knowing has shifted from being able to remember and repeat information to being able to find it use it and contextualize it.” Marc Prensky describes how students no longer prefer large lecture halls and instead desire learning spaces that “allow them to get to know one another, engage in dialogue, work independently or in groups on projects…get or provide private feedback [and] seek a collaborative environment that fosters understanding and learning” (Herman Miller Company, 2011, p. 5-6). Prensky’s quote perfectly illustrates why classroom spaces should no longer be static but should be easily adaptable to fit whatever activity or pedagogical method the teacher chooses to deliver that day’s lesson in.

Source: Classroom of the future

February 9, 2017

February 8, 2017

Finland again

Finland’s education system is considered one of the best in the world. In international ratings, it’s always in the top ten. However, the authorities there aren’t ready to rest on their laurels, and they’ve decided to carry through a real revolution in their school system.
Finnish officials want to remove school subjects from the curriculum. There will no longer be any classes in physics, math, literature, history, or geography.
The head of the Department of Education in Helsinki, Marjo Kyllonen, explained the changes:
“There are schools that are teaching in the old-fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginning of the 1900s — but the needs are not the same, and we need something fit for the 21st century. “
Instead of individual subjects, students will study events and phenomena in an interdisciplinary format. For example, the Second World War will be examined from the perspective of history, geography, and math. And by taking the course” Working in a Cafe," students will absorb a whole body of knowledge about the English language, economics, and communication skills.
This system will be introduced for senior students, beginning at the age of 16.
The general idea is that the students ought to choose for themselves which topic or phenomenon they want to study, bearing in mind their ambitions for the future and their capabilities. In this way, no student must pass through an entire course on physics or chemistry while all the time thinking to themselves “What do I need to know this for?”
The traditional format of teacher-pupil communication is also going to change. Students will no longer sit behind school desks and wait anxiously to be called upon to answer a question. Instead, they will work together in small groups to discuss problems.
The Finnish education system encourages collective work, which is why the changes will also affect teachers. The school reform will require a great deal of cooperation between teachers of different subjects. Around 70% of teachers in Helsinki have already undertaken preparatory work in line with the new system for presenting information, and, as a result, they’ll get a pay increase.
The changes are expected to be complete by 2020.

February 7, 2017

Training for jobs that don’t yet exist

The world’s education systems are failing our children by not preparing them for the workplace of the future. This is the key finding of a new report by the World Economic Forum, which puts forward a series of practical measures for aligning education and training with future job requirements.

Technology and globalization continue to reshape business models across all sectors and geographies, creating new types of jobs and disposing of old ones at great pace. However, monolithic, underfunded education and training systems around the world have fallen short of responding to this trend. This means that by the time they leave education, as many as two-thirds of children entering primary school today will not have the skills required to get a job. The impact will be worse for women who already have less than two-thirds of the economic opportunity that men have.

The report was put together by a panel of business leaders, policy-makers, unions, educational institutions and academics. It recommends that governments and the private sector work together in eight core areas to ensure the world’s children are equipped for the future.

1. Focus on the early years: Reinventing education starts in early childhood, where the focus should be on literacy and reading. Adequate childcare provision for working parents will be critical in both developed and developing economies.

2. Keeping it dynamic: Training curricula must be aligned with market demand for skills – both job-specific and generic, such as problem-solving and project management. The challenge will be to keep these curricula dynamic and responsive to evolving business needs. In Finland, one of the world’s top-performing nations in education, the curriculum is updated regularly to provide an overall framework, with room for local adaptation by the schools themselves.

3. Open-sourcing education: The report advocates adopting training innovations more quickly, opening up to alternative learning routes (such as Hackathons) and allowing for experimentation with new techniques. For example, the New York City Department of Education has created "Lab" schools and tasked them with reinventing teaching and learning. In Ghana, the US and France, schools are pioneering short courses in coding based on peer-to-peer teaching, project-based learning and gamification.

4. Taking teachers out of the ivory tower: To bring education and business closer together, the report recommends initiatives such as teacher "externships" in businesses, workplace mentoring and involving the private sector in teacher training.

5. Giving students a sense of the real world of work: Similarly, students should experience the world of work from early on – for example through internships and ongoing career coaching – to help them see a variety of career options and the skills required.

6. Addressing the vocational stigma: Vocational and technical education is critical to the world economy but has been neglected and often looked down on as second best. The World Economic Forum advocates promoting vocational and technical career paths more proactively and raising the quality of vocational training on offer. For example, Germany’s vocational training system sees apprentices divide their days between classroom instruction and on-the-job training at a company. Apprentices are paid and their training typically extends to between two and three years. Not only does this approach create an excellent talent pool, it also smooths the – often difficult – transition from education to the world of work.

7. Digital fluency: Digital skills will be fundamental to a wide range of careers, but "digital fluency" is not a given. The report highlights the need for a greater focus on ICT in teacher training and students’ work placements to address the growing digital skills crisis. One successful example comes from India, where the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) has partnered with NGOs and the Government of India to build National Digital Literacy Centers across the country to enable digital literacy.

8. Education, education, education: Given the rapid evolution of the job market, workers can no longer rely on just one skillset or narrow expertise to sustain long-term careers. The report advocates incentivizing employees to commit to lifelong learning so they continue to develop their skills or even retrain for new roles. For example, in Singapore, individuals receive an annual training allowance they can spend on a range of training courses all geared towards developing future-oriented skills. The fourth industrial revolution will turn the world of work as we know it on its head as it continues to unfold. The report suggests that, unless the world’s monolithic education systems can be reformed and rendered nimbler, their failings will come back to haunt future generations’ ability to prosper.

Source: World Economic Forum - February 2017

February 6, 2017

Use their competences

Nowadays all teachers realize that their students belong to the E- generation, and that they consume information on their own way.
These students are used to calculators, television, Play Station, computers, laptops, I-pads.

They sit in front of the computer and they consume their favorite products very quickly; if it's  not interesting enough they simply switch to another programme.

Computers are their sixth organ.
Students are like to be active themselves. They have the drive to explore.

Listening to long instruction is for them like reading the instruction guide of a new PlayStation programme.

And no-one will do it, they all start to explore immediately.

The first child that wants to read the instruction manual before he/she starts to work with that programme, has still to be born.

Students want to discover and do it themselves. That’s not a negative attitude, it is real motivation.

And we teachers must accept the changes in the consumption pattern of the audience in our classrooms.  

We are the professionals and that’s why we don’t want to serve them every day the same fast-food. Let’s be creative and keep them hungry.

Students want to be challenged to demonstrate their competences. They are not interested in the long demonstrations of the competences of the teacher. The only effect is that it will reduce their own competences.

Let’s focus on the 21st Century Skills to bring our program in harmony with their competences.

I am glad to work out this topic during the International Dalton Congress is Austria.

February 5, 2017

New Dalton school in Poland

I've got this beautiful invitation from the Public School nr. 18 in Szczecin.
The team of this school followed the training process organized by the Polish Dalton Association.
The official certificate will be celebrated on March 20. 2017.

February 3, 2017

The elements described in this section as “21st century student outcomes” (represented by the rainbow) are the skills, knowledge and expertise students should master to succeed in work and life in the 21st Century. 
Core Subjects
21st Century Themes Mastery of core subjects and 21st century themes are essential for students in the 21st century. Core subjects include English, reading or language arts, world languages, arts, mathematics, economics, science, geography, history, government and civics. We believe schools must move beyond a focus on basic competency in core subjects to promoting understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes into core subjects:
• Global Awareness
• Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy
• Civic Literacy
• Health Literacy
Learning and Innovation Skills
Learning and innovation skills are what separate students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in the 21st century and those who are not.
They include:
• Creativity and Innovation
• Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
• Communication and Collaboration

Information, Media and Technology Skills
People in the 21st century live in a technology and media-driven environment, marked by access to an abundance of information, rapid changes in technology tools and the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on an unprecedented scale. To be effective in the 21st century, citizens and workers must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills, such as:
• Information Literacy
• Media Literacy
• ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) Literacy
Life and Career Skills
Today’s life and work environments require far more than thinking skills and content knowledge. The ability to navigate the complex life and work environments in the globally competitive information age requires students to pay rigorous attention to developing adequate life and career skills, such as:
• Flexibility and Adaptability
• Initiative and Self-Direction
• Social and Cross-Cultural Skills
• Productivity and Accountability
• Leadership and Responsibility
BY: The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

February 2, 2017

Long live the teacher

In one of his books Woody Allen writes: “My education was dismal. I went to a series of schools for mentally disturbed teachers”.

But nevertheless he survived his education and at least it brought him to a unique sense of humour.

If teachers can weave humour through the daily programme, they can really touch the future with their students. Long live the teacher should be the reaction of the students.