In January the Seattle School district convened a Saturday gathering to envision our technology future. The Technology Vision Summit gathered students, teachers, administrators, parents, community members and a few folks from higher ed and local technology firms. Our task was clearly defined. We were to spend three sessions of about a hour each with our pre-assigned and carefully composed small groups. Our charge for each session was to “imagine a scene from a day in the life of a Seattle student, fully empowered with modern technologies.” The product of each of our sessions was to be a colorful chart paper drawing depicting the scene we imagined. After each session, groups shared their scene.
Many of the scenes shared featured classrooms where content was flipped so that students viewed their lessons for homework and spent class time working in in groups to apply what they had learned. Classrooms looked more like learning commons with plenty of space for students to collaborate on projects and work in flexible groups. Every student had multiple devices that seamlessly connected to one portal that managed communications with teachers and centralized resources. Teachers really were guides on the side, facilitating connections to the community through internships, Skype conferences, and opportunities to gather real world data. No students sat in rows. No teachers stood in front of a group of students to say anything.
After the first two sessions, our moderator asked us to prepare for the final session by reflecting on ideas that hadn’t been mentioned during the first two sessions. I raised my hand and suggested, “No one has said anything about the Common Core State Standards.” There was a murmur from the larger group that I interpreted as something like, “Oh yeah, those.”
When the final scenes were shared, several mentioned the CCSS. One presenter explained that his group hadn’t said anything explicitly before, but of course the CCSS undergirded everything in their scene, and probably in all our scenes. The CCSS provided the standards students needed to meet. Teachers used the CCSS to help students evaluate their work, determining what work approached, met, or exceeded standard.
Interestingly, not a single group foresaw a future where students showed that they had met the CCSS by taking any sort of uniform, standardized assessment. Students in the scenes gathered data, interpreted it, and presented it. They identified and solved real world problems. They communicated what they had learned through social media, evaluated responses, and used them to assess the success of their communication skills. The representative of a local technology firm at my table stated forcefully that it did not matter at all if students could meet these standards individually if they could not work successfully in a group to solve a problem or create a product. Necessary skills for the workplace of the future could not be measured by one person’s test scores.
Where do you think the CCSS fit into the future of education? Turns out the Technology Vision Summit folks believed they under-gird everything.
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