Classroom Whitenoise

I just finished a fantastic article in the new Educational Leadership magazine. The February 2012 edition, “For Each to Excel,” addresses everything from differentiation and gifted education to self-selection and project-based learning – all in the context of individualizing education.

This specific article, “Preparing Students to Learn Without Us,” explores the use of instructional technology in personalizing learning. I’m especially struck by this statement:

“We live in a moment where personalizing the learning experience is not just a possibility – it’s almost an expectation.”

True. Think of the ways we – all of us, not just students – are able to personalize the world in which we live. We create playlists, stream live radio into our cars with the specific songs and artists we want to hear, create reading lists and custom RSS feeds – we can even create our own photo and editorial “magazines” using Flipboard.

Where we once let the radio play in the background, sometimes as “whitenoise,” in wait of our favorite songs – we are now able to only include our favorites. No whitenoise.

So what about the classroom? Is the same evolution true? Has there ever been a time that students had to allow instruction to take its course, ignoring the redundant and repetitive, waiting for the new & exciting stuff? Is there such a thing as instructional “whitenoise?”

Research tells us, yes. The reason(s) why is the subject of another blog entry or five, but suffice it to say that educators have learned over the years that students need a variety of instructional methodologies, geared to them specifically, in order to stay engaged.

So how – in this culture where everything around us is personalized – does education keep step? Or should it? How do we keep the whitenoise out of the classroom?

Here is a suggestion, but before I expand I would love to hear your thoughts.

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3 Responses to Classroom Whitenoise

  1. ekuhns says:

    Pete, I wish I knew the how! Certainly our G21 initiative heads us in the direction of individualizing content for students. Unfortunately we can’t deliver all of our content in a G21 project. The strategies we use for those projects though should be evident in our daily plans, however. Is learning math basics fun? Not for the student who struggles with the logical side of things. Is Art 1 the best class EVER? Not for the child who feels no connection to her creative side. As teachers, we have been told to meet the needs of all students. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. We need to be lifelong learners and be willing to learn and try new concepts. The same old same old just won’t work any more. A new generation needs new ideas.

  2. John Hendron says:

    G21 is only a step in the direction… The next steps involve interdisciplinary collaboration. It’s happened in instances because of g21, but there’s a huge roadblock – state standards and our omnipresent focus and awareness of them. Until we have more time for planning (yearlong school?) we sadly might be stuck low on school-based innovation. But this article suggests in its prescription that families can help with 24/7 education too.

    Paradigm shifts…. Both exciting and challenging!

  3. pgretz says:

    Great thoughts – John, so if no barriers existed – money & time were not factors, what would your dream scenario be?

    Do you mean the collab between teachers isn’t happening because of focus on SOL’s? because of time? or because of what’s important?