Friday, December 13, 2013

From Consumers to Producers: Creating a Producer Centered Classroom


We still get asked the question, “What is so great about an iPad in the classroom?”; from all sorts of people; teachers, administrators, students, and parents. That is a loaded question for sure, but one of the things that has become obvious is that our students are becoming producers as opposed to consumers.  Teenagers are excellent consumers of information online.  They read Reddit, use Facebook and Twitter, and peruse through YouTube and Pinterest.  Ask yourself, “How many of my students are actually producing online material?”

Here are some of the things that our students with iPads are able to create:

When students begin producing their own materials they become passionate about content.  When students become passionate about a topic, they tend to learn more than what is outlined in our curriculum.  The quality of their work is improved, they receive feedback from others outside the four walls of their classroom, and they can connect with people who are interested in similar topics.  Online publishing is a powerful tool that teachers can leverage to increase interest of content and quality of work.
 
Here are three ways to establish an environment conducive to a producer-centered classroom:

  1. Create a Collaborative, Project-Based Learning Environment
  2. Foster a Creative Atmosphere
  3. Globalize the Classroom

Creating a collaborative, project based learning environment
Shift to a self-directed, producer-centered classroom by moving away from the front of the room. That means creating a classroom environment that is least restrictive for the students allowing opportunities to demonstrate mastery of curriculum objectives in a non-traditional manner.  Project based learning tied to curriculum and provides students the freedom to create materials they are proud of and are worthy of publishing.  They know their project is important because they are participating in a solution to a real world issue and viewed by an authentic audience.  

Foster a Creative Atmosphere
How do you create this atmosphere?  Reflect on your current classroom workflow.  Is there a time for students to create?  Albert Einstein said,  "When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge."

Creation time is critical for enabling students to be innovative.   This means letting go of most the things we learned in our pre-service days, and stepping into a bold new world where the classroom environment allows for movement, flexible grouping, freedom to create. It allows students to set goals and self-assess, and lots of time for revision and peer sharing.  How are you fostering creativity, imagination, creation in the classroom?  

“We have a lot of learned behavior of compliance, and hunger for external rewards and no real engagement. We have this belief that people perform better if we hit them with this endless arsenal of carrots and sticks: If-then motivators,” Daniel Pink said in his book Drive.  “To get to that engagement, people have to unlearn these deeply rooted habits. I defy you to find a two year old who is not engaged. That’s how we are out of the box.”

Globalize the Classroom
Globalizing the classroom is key to connecting your students to an authentic audience.  Tools such as Google Communities and Twitter make it easier to find others to connect with.   By nature, humans are social and are extremely motivated when connecting to others.  Create an environment where peer sharing extends beyond your room and your school.  There is a lot of buzz about bringing experts into the classroom, which is a great way to stretch students minds, but there is also a tremendous amount of excitement created when students become the experts and they can share their work with the world.

Producers are engaged, proud of their work and appreciate an authentic audience. These students are better prepared for the real world and future careers.   The validation producers receive from their audience causes them to be more motivated and willing to keep creating.  Create a producer-centered classroom and allow students to collaborate with each other, even with others in the building, community, state, nation, and globally.


Resources:
Problem Based Learning

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