What does a 21st century classroom look like? The subject has inspired a lot of debate and discussion in many school systems. After spending time in the last few weeks at the newly renovated Ibraham, the new Caleb's Creek and Kimmel Farm, I have seen what it can look like and was impressed at the setup for the classroom teachers who were moving in for the first time last week. And I felt the same way at Reagan High's new wing during the Nothing But NETS conference several weeks ago.
It's not about the tools and technology. I've seen incredible teachers who didn't have access to a lot of technology, and I don't believe you can place an ineffective teacher in a technology-rich classroom and expect them to transform into a master teacher. Technology is only a tool for engagement. But the teachers at these new schools will find a wealth of technology to engage students. These new classrooms are outfitted with computers, interactive whiteboards, slates, student response systems and sound systems.
What an amazing setup for teaching students.
The challenge for these new schools will be to use these 21st century classrooms to impact their instruction and engage their students. Teachers may need to revisit their practices. The technology in these 21st century classrooms shouldn't just be an "add-on" to what has always been done. The hope is that these technologies can transform instruction for teachers and students at these new schools. It won't happen overnight, but it was very encourgaing to see the excitement from the teachers in these new classrooms, and their desire to receive the kinds of training that will allow them to realize the potential of these 21st century classrooms.