Education is fast-paced, always rapidly growing and changing. Thanks to extraordinary developments in technology, cognitive psychology and global learning, there are no shortage of ways teachers can bring new knowledge into the classroom.
Some of the latest trends in education include the growing use of ed-tech; learning beyond the classroom and making the learning process more fun through the role of gamification. Though sometimes these tools and approaches can sometimes seem at odds with one another, it’s important to remember that they all share a common goal: to create more intuitive, independent students who are leaders of their own education.
Here are five teaching and learning techniques for teachers to watch in 2020.
1. Learning Gamification
Gamification is becoming a hugely popular way to incorporate more fun and play into perhaps more difficult subjects.
The truth is that kids love to play games and enacting stories are one of the key ways in which they learn. Any way that teachers can bring more game-based activities into the classroom is certain to help boost students’ learning and their assimilation of new topics.
Below are some common ways teachers can use gamification in their lessons.
Language-learning games are one of the key emerging trends in English language teaching and are commonly utilised by literacy teachers.
From encouraging students to work collaboratively (through pairs or teams) to allowing them to spot their own mistakes, games play a significant role in learning in more ways than one.
One common game shared by many English teachers is ‘Find the Mistake’. Larry Ferlazzo, an Californian English teacher and author, says he identifies common errors in his students’ writing and creates slideshows, each subsequent slide showing the correct version.
Student pairs are given a mini-whiteboard and then have to correct the errors before their teacher shows them the subsequent slides. The winners are the pairs who get the most correct answers.
Larry shares more of his favourite collaborative language-learning games here.
Quizzes are an easy way to test students’ knowledge, while also allowing the element of competition to stimulate information retrieval. While quizzes can be completed independently more as a solo ‘game’, they can also provide the opportunity for students to work collaboratively, thus boosting their teamwork and social skills.
Any online games with an educational aspect can certainly be incorporated into lessons, or as a way to consolidate learning after a certain topic/task has been completed.
There are many online websites and platforms that offer educational games on a range of topics, and can be played independently or in pairs.
Classcraft is an immersive, interactive role-play learning platform that uses role playing and gamification to encourage collaboration and positive behaviours. It has countless features, but teachers can simply use the ones they feel are most relevant to them.
2. Use of Technology
Over the last decade, there have been a number of technological trends in teaching and learning.
Now, over half of schools make regular use of laptops, iPads and other tablet in the classroom, as well as a number of digital teaching tools that take help take the strain of monotonous administration tasks for teachers, such as marking and lesson planning.
Technology can be an invaluable tool for gaining access to educational resources, as well as incorporating the gamification element talked about above.
Thanks to digital mediums such as video and audio recording, students can enjoy taking on a more creative approach to their work. Teacher Larry Ferlazzo swears by the app Adobe Spark, which is uses to create customised slideshow videos for each topic his students learn about.
“For each theme we study, I’ve made a simple writing frame,” he says. “Students draw a picture and write about it. It might be about a family member, or a room in their house, or their favourite food.
“Then, while the class is working on that sheet or another project, I have a peer tutor or nominated student photograph all of the pictures. Each student goes outside, to get away from classroom noise, and records their voice reading the description they wrote.
“They upload the image and audio recording to Adobe Spark to create a short video. The next day, everybody watches all the videos together.”
Ferlazzo explains that his students love this exercise, as it allows them to take risks in a supported environment, as well as practising their writing, listening and speaking skills.
An increasing number of schools are now now offering coding lessons from a young age. This is evident of a growing recognition of the importance of technological competency, and allows students to become active players in the digital landscape rather than passive consumers.
3. Learning Beyond the Classroom
Learning outside of the classroom has been proven to be incredibly beneficial, with particular focus placed on students’ connection with nature and learning outdoors.
Through taking lessons outside to new and interesting locations, teachers can boost students’ learning through novel situations and new and intriguing environments.
School trips are of course nothing new, but the last decade has seen a shift towards educational travel programmes, which reinforce students’ existing knowledge and push them into more advanced fields of study. Immersive cultural activities and building relationships with people from other cultural backgrounds also go a long way towards enhancing students’ experiences beyond the classroom.
4. Project-Based Learning
Another huge trend making its foray into classrooms is that of project-based learning – students working together with one another to achieve shared goals.
Although project-based learning has been used in classrooms for decades, the last few years have seen it increasingly linked to solving real-life social and sustainability issues. Thanks to the technological advances mentioned earlier and the internet helping to break down informational barriers, young people are becoming more and more inspired to pursue their own solutions to current global issues. Project-based learning, therefore, is a way to connect real-world situations to classroom learning.
Service and volunteering trips are a great way to incorporate project-based learning into the curriculum. Students can volunteer with local sustainability organisations and use their experiences as research for environmental projects at home. Alternatively, schools can offer their own sustainability activities for students to participate in that benefit the school community or local area.
Project-based learning is becoming increasingly used by teachers to encourage students to be forward-thinking, innovative global citizens.
5. Students as Autonomous Learners
Ultimately, many of these new trends in teaching are all moving towards a larger, overarching trend, and that is allowing students to be leaders of their own education.
Unlike the traditional teaching model, which places teachers as the ‘givers’ of knowledge and the students as passive ‘receivers’, new teaching approaches are encouraging teachers to take a step back and for students to take responsibility for their own learning.
Instead, teachers should focus on creating an environment where students can take control, being there for support but allowing opportunities for students to take controlled risks. In this way, teachers act as facilitators of learning, allowing students to make the most of the academic potential new ed-tech offers as well as a more personalised approach.
Larry Ferlazzo shares one of his strategies for encouraging student-led learning, which is simply student self-assessments.
“Inspired by an exceptional colleague, I’ve developed a student self-assessment form,” he says. “It lists ten qualities designed to show ‘how serious I am about learning English.’ It includes behaviour (I helped other students) and academics (I did my homework).
“Students quickly grade themselves at the end of each week in each category, and determine their overall grade.
“I have a short, weekly conversation with each student to review their self-assessment. I give them my own grade, and we have a discussion if we disagree. I do this during the time that my students use the computer lab for language learning.
“I then collect the assessments. If a student has an A or a B average, which is 80 to 100 per cent accuracy, we call their parent or carer. I tell them how impressed I am that their child is such a serious student, and is working hard to learn English.”
By allowing students to measure their own progress and discuss it with their teacher, this builds their own self-awareness muscle and allows them to choose their own learning path going forward.