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Runninghead:THEWICKEDPROBLEMOFRETHINKINGTEACHING1

TheWickedProblemofRethinkingTeaching

WhitneyFox,KristineJahn,DanielleRauandEmilyVictor

MichiganStateUniversity

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Toassumetheanswerforaproblemaswickedasrethinkingteachingalreadyexistsin
isolationwouldbenaive.However,theeducationsystemasitstandsdoesnotaddresstheneeds
of21stcenturystudents,thereforeschoolsystemsandeducatorsmustbegintorethinkteaching.
Toaddresssuchacomplexproblemwemustimplementavarietyofteachingmethodsand
theories.Personalizedlearning(P.L)andflexibleclassrooms,combinedwiththeimplementation
of21stcenturyskillswillrethinkteachinginawaythatreachesalllearners,whilegivingthem
theskillsandknowledgenecessarytosucceedinoureverevolvingworld.
Torethinkteachingwemustaddressthemostimportantfactor,thestudent.Oneofthe
leastequitablethingsaneducatorcandoistreatalllearnersthesamedespiteuniqueneedsand
challenges.Asolutiontothispersistentproblemispersonalizedlearning.InReddings(2013)
article
GettingPersonal:ThePromiseofPersonalizedLearning
heexplainspersonalized
learningisamarriageofindividualizedanddifferentiatedinstruction.Thecombinationofthese
instructionalmethodsadaptsforstudentspaceaswellaspreference.Thetopfiveessential
elementsofP.LaccordingtoRedding(2013)are,flexibleanything/anywherelearninga
redefinedroleforteachersandanexpandedsenseforteacherprojectbased,authentic
learningastudentdrivenlearningpathandmastery/competencybasedprogressionpace.P.L
willrequireamuchneededinstructionalshift.Itwillmeaneducatorsneedtobeverydeliberate
inthewaystheyusetechnologytodothingsthatcouldnotbedonebefore.
AwellknownP.LstudywasconductedbyBill&MelindaGatesFoundationInterim
ResearchonPersonalizedLearning.TheinitialstudytooktwoyearsofimplementingP.L
practicesin23urbanpubliccharterschoolswhich5,000studentsparticipatedin.Whilethe
schoolswerenotidenticalintheirimplementation,therewerethreecomponentsthatwere

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commonineachschool'sapproachtoP.L.Thefirstcommoncomponentwaslearnerprofiles.
Learnerprofilesprovideinformationsuchasstrengths,needs,motivations,progressandgoals.
Theseprofileshelpinformthestudentslearning.ThesecondcomponentisaP.Lpath.Each
studentfollowsthecustomizedpaththatrespondsandadaptsbasedontheirprogress.Thelast
commonalitywasflexiblelearningenvironments.Allschoolsusedagreatdealoftechnology.
ThetechnologyasRichardCulatta(2013)mentionsinhisTEDtalk,givesthelearnersagency
andopportunityforstudentchoice.Thestudentsarereallyincontrolofdesigningtheirlearning
environment.ThefindingsfromthistwoyearstudywerelargelypositiveandpromisingforP.L.
Nearly2/3ofthestudentshadsignificantlypositiveresultsineithermathorreading.Most
studentsendedtheschoolyearwithtestscoresaboveoratnationalaverageonstandardizedtests,
whengenerallystartingtheschoolyearbelowthenationalaverage(Bill&MelindaGates
Foundation,2014).
Rethinkteachingalsoinvolvestheteacherchangingtheirperspectiveoftheirroleaswell
asenhancingtheclassroomenvironment.Creatingflexibleclassroomsisonewayateachercan
aidherstudentsincollaboration,engagement,problemsolvingskills,criticalthinking,etc.
st
(Rethinking).Designingaclassroomwith21
centuryskillsinmindmeanstheremustbe

choicesforclassroomseating(beanbagchair,standing,crate),largemobileroundtables,and
teacherstations.Evolvingtheclassroomspacetomeetstudentsindividualneedsimpactshow
theylearn,howtheyinteract,andtheentireclassroomexperience(Flexible,2015).
Redesigningtheclassroomisbeneficialforallgradelevels.Collegestudentsthatwould
rd
th
typicallyscoreinthe53
percentilewhenlearningindividually,scoredinthe70
percentile

whenlearningcooperatively(Rethinking).AsGeesays,AMindiswhatyougetwhenyou

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plugmindsandtoolstogetherintherightway(2013,p.263).Flexibleclassroomschangethe
expectationsoftheteacherandstudents.Itisacollaborativespacewheretheteacherand
studentsareequalleadersoftheclassroom.
Furthermore,whenrethinkingteachingtoproduce21stcenturylearnerswecannotonly
rethinkeachindividuallearningspacebutratheranentireredesignofschools.Ifthephysical
environmentactsasathirdteachertostudents,whyhasthephysicalstructureandenvironment
notchangedfromhundredsofyearsago?Wecannothammertheroundpegofbuilding21st
centurylearnersintothesquareholethatisthe19thcenturyschoolmodel(Le,2012).
Producingcitizensfortoday'smultidisciplinaryglobalworldcriesoutforanewmodelof
physicaldesignsforthelearningenvironment,linkingpedagogyandspace(Pearlman,2014,p
145).Demolishingclassroomwallsandcreatinganeducationsystemreformthatpromotes
innovationandselfdirectedlearning(Le,2010),withlearningspacesforacollaborativeculture
ofstudentsatwork,supportsGeesideasofAffinityspaces.Multipletools,differenttypesof
people,anddiverseskillssetsarenetworkedinwaysthatmakeeveryonesmarterandmakethe
spaceitselfaformofemergentintelligence(Gee,2013,p174).Todaysstudentscometo
schoolwithdifferentcapabilitiesandinterestsforlearningthanpreviousgenerations.New
technologyhasenabledmorelearnercenteredapproachestoeducation(Pearlman,p188).
Whenrethinkingteaching,wealsohavetothinkbeyondtheeducator,thestudents,andthe
curriculumandintothephysicallearningenvironmentinorderforstudentstobecomesuccessful
workers,creators,innovators,andcitizensinoursociety.
InordertorethinkteachingthroughP.Landflexiblelearningenvrionments,21stcentury
skillsmustbetaught.ThePartnershipfor21stCenturyLearningdescribes21stcenturyskillsas

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theskills,knowledgeandexpertisestudentsshouldmastertosucceedinworkandlifeinthe
21stcentury,(Frameworkfor21stCenturyLearning).Theseskillsinclude:lifeandcareer
skills,keysubjectknowledge,learningandinnovationskills,andinformation,media,and
technologyskills.P.Landflexiblelearningenvironmentssupport21stcenturylearning,allowing
studentstolearninawaythatisrelevanttotherealworld,providingopportunitiesforboth
collaborationandindividuallearning,andhavingaccessto21stcenturylearningtools
(Frameworkfor21stCenturyLearning).With21stcenturyskillscomes21stcenturytools.
WhenteacherssuccessfullyintegratetechnologyintotheirteachingthroughtheTPACK
(technologicalpedagogicalcontentknowledge)frameworkstudentsareimmersedina21st
centuryeducation.Insteadofteacherssimplytreatingtechnologyasanaddontheyshould
insteadfocusupontheconnectionsamongtechnology,content,andpedagogyastheyplayoutin
classroomcontexts(Koehler,Mishra,Cain,2013).
Ourcurrentschoolsystemispreparingstudentsforaworldthatnolongerexists.
Thereforeweneedtorethinkteaching.However,rethinkingteachingisawickedproblemsince
thereisnosimplesolution.Teaching21stcenturyskillsthroughP.Landimplementingflexible
learningenvironmentswillcreateaneducationalsettingthatprepareschildrenfortheirfutures.
Rethinkingteachingwillnotbeeasy,howeveritwillyieldpositivechangesinstudentsandtheir
preparednessforlifeandwork.Theworldischangingrapidly,shouldntschoolsbechanging
rightalongwithit?

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References
Bill&MelindaGatesFoundationInterimResearchonPersonalizedLearning(November,2014)
Retrievedfrom
http://collegeready.gatesfoundation.org/wpcontent/uploads/2015/06/EarlyProgressonPersonal
izedLearningFullReport.pdf

Culatta,R.(2013,January10).ReimaginingLearning:RichardCulattaat
TEDxBeaconStreet.Retrievedfrom
http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/ReimaginingLearningRichardCu

FlexibleClassrooms:ProvidingtheLearningEnvironmentThatKidsNeed.(2015,August4).
RetrievedAugust5,2015,from
http://www.edutopia.org/practice/flexibleclassroomsprovidinglearningenvironmentkidsneed
?qtstw_practice=1#qtstw_practice

Frameworkfor21stCenturyLearning.(n.d.).RetrievedAugust6from
http://www.p21.org/ourwork/p21framework

Gee,J.P.(2013).
Theantieducationera:Creatingsmarterstudentsthroughdigitallearning
[iTunes].Retrievedfrom
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/theantieducationera/id569888330?mt=11

Koehler,M.,Mishra,P.,&Cain,W.(2013).JournalofEducation(193):
WhatIsTechnological
PedagogicalContentKnowledge(TPACK)?
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http://www.bu.edu/journalofeducation/files/2014/02/BUJoE.193.3.Koehleretal.pdf

Le,T.RedesigningEducation:BuildingSchoolsforScience,Technology,Engineering,and
Math.(2010,June4).RetrievedAugust5thfrom
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ologyengineeringandmath

Le,T.RedesigningEducation:WhyCantwebeinkindergartenforlife?(2012,May4).
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http://www.fastcodesign.com/1637619/redesigningeducationwhycantwebeinkindergartenf
orlife
Pearlman,Bob.(2014).21stCenturySkills:
RethinkingHowStudentsLearn.
Bloomington,
Indiana:SolutionTreePress.

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Redding,S.(2013).Gettingpersonal:Thepromiseofpersonalizedlearning.InM.Murphy,S.
Redding,&J.Twyman(Eds.),Handbookoninnovationsinlearning(pp.111).Philadelphia,
PA:CenteronInnovationsinLearning,TempleUniversityCharlotte,NC:InformationAge
Publishing.Retrievedfrom
http://www.centeril.org
/

RethinkingtheClassroom:SpacesDesignedforActiveandEngagedLearningandTeaching.
(n.d.).RetrievedAugust5,2015,from
http://www.hermanmiller.com/research/solutionessays/rethinkingtheclassroom.html