Education has changed drastically over the years, and the 21st-century learner has more to learn than ever before. Regardless of whether or not students plan on going straight to college from high school or going directly to a career, there are many paths available from which to choose. When times were much simpler, students learned the basic subjects, and they received a grade to show proof of their learning. Times have not changed that much in this regard, but with the implementation of standards, the things students would have learned a long time ago are now laid out directly–almost in checklist form. Teachers plan lessons using the standards to teach students the skills necessary for college or career. When a student shows mastery of the standards, they are confident they can give the student a diploma, saying they now have the skills necessary to move on. These standards, though, are what teachers must use to teach the students, and I wonder just how many students can confidently say they have mastered each standard when they graduate. Students must know what a standard is, how to read a standard, and of course, demonstrate evidence they have mastered the standard. In doing so, students can be empowered to own their learning–take a more active role in their education.
Technology plays a huge role in lives today, and the student is no exception. Aside from each subject area having standards, technology also holds its own standards teachers must include. ISTE standard 1 is aptly labeled “Empowered Learner” and says, “Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences” (ISTE link). More importantly, before the ISTE standards are listed, a small paragraph gives information about the standards. I love what it says because it ties in directly with what I would like to see with all standards, stating, “The ISTE Standards for Students are designed to empower the student’s voice and ensure that learning is a student-driven process” (ISTE). Did you catch that last phrase? “Learning is a student-driven process.” I will not get on my proverbial soapbox and talk about how I think that learning has become passive in a lot of ways (that is all I will say). Teachers need to teach the necessary skills, but students should own them individually and actively take part in mastering the skills.
To help students understand what teachers do weekly (teaching the standards), teaching students how to read a standard, understand it, and then break it down into a simpler way to recognize what skill is to learn will help empower student learning. In A Non-Freaked Out Guide to Teaching the Common Core : Using the 32 Literacy Anchor Standards to Develop college- and Career-Ready Students (Link Here), author Dave Stuart focuses on “anchor” standards (sometimes called “power” standards) to show how easy it is to read and understand the skill to learn. Stuart, in a “non-freaked out” way, comfortably says, “Anchor standards are simply descriptions of college and career readiness skills” (p.11). When it is stated that simply, it helps alleviate some of the anxiety in thinking there is too much to learn, too many skills to master. Hopefully, when students keep this basic definition in mind, it helps remind them that they are learning skills or training for the job of going to college or into a career. Once students can read a standard and recognize the skills to learn, they can utilize technology to empower them–maybe with a tool like Hāpara.
Hāpara (link here) was designed to work alongside Google, reminiscent of an LMS (Learning Management System). It allows students what it calls “Master-based grading,” saying, “The idea behind this fresh grading concept is to structure your courses in a way that allows learners the time and flexibility to focus on mastering a standard rather than achieving a certain number or letter grade.” Yes! It is technology tools like Hāpara that will help empower students to learn the skills. It could also be something as simple as Monday.com (link here), which is more of a task checklist helper. Students could then create a checklist of all the standards and prove mastery of them one by one. Either way, whether it is powerful software or a simple app, technology can better equip students today to take charge of their education towards a college or towards a career.
Gallegos, B. (2020, August 20). Mastery-based grading: From minimum mindset to a growth mindset. Retrieved January 24, 2021, from https://hapara.com/blog/mastery-based-grading/
ISTE Standards for Students. (n.d.). Retrieved January 24, 2021, from http://www.iste.org/standards/for-students
Stuart, Dave, and Dave, Jr. Stuart. A Non-Freaked Out Guide to Teaching the Common Core : Using the 32 Literacy Anchor Standards to Develop College- and Career-Ready Students, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.spu.edu/lib/spu/detail.action?docID=1767923.