Friday, April 26, 2013

Hmm... I wonder. Will these things really be obsolete?

I just read Shelley Blake-Plock's 21 Things That Will Become Obsolete in Education by 2020.  She definitely piqued my interest.  I do wonder if desks, parent-teacher conference weeks, homework, and lockers truly will become a thing of the past come 2020.  Much has changed over the past decade, so perhaps many of her predictions will come to be reality in the next one.  As an 11-year educator, I have seen many things change, evolve, and disappear since my start in the profession in 2002.  Here's the short list of the changes I've seen since 2002:
  • Newsletters sent home:  I no longer print out 24 paper newsletters to send home.  Rather, I update my classroom blog to keep parents informed.  In fact, many teachers I know try to now use as little paper as possible.
  • Whiteboards/Chalkboards:  All of my lessons are delivered to students through a computer  connected to my SMART Board.  It's all electronic all the time.  Chalkboards went out in 2003.  Whiteboards went out in 2008.  *Keep in mind, I teach in Silicon Valley. 
Directions on a  SMART Board greet students each
morning. Electronic boards connected to computers
replaced white boards in many classrooms  years ago.

  • Students seated in rows:  Education today is all about collaboration, compromise, teamwork, problem solving, and empathy.  I haven't seen a classroom with students seated in rows or individual desks in years.  It's all about group work and discussion! 
  • Writing prompts:  Thanks to my wonderful mentors, Marva Cappello, Katherine Davies-Samway, and Midge Fuller, I learned early on that children do not produce their best writing when they are told what to write about.  Yet, my profession as a whole is still slowly accepting this idea.  Most teachers I know teach the writing process through writing workshop, which includes requiring students to figure out exactly what to write about.  However, a few slow adapters are still stuck on prompted-only writing.  
  • Bullying Awareness:  Bullying has always been present in the school system.  Yet, awareness and action to prevent bullying has not.  The past decade has brought about significant improvements in anti-bullying education.  However, we still have an incredibly long way to go. 
  • Full-Inclusion:  Special ed classrooms are a thing of the past in many public elementary schools.  All children, regardless of special need, learning ability, and diagnosis are now sitting together in classrooms across the country learning side by side with their same age peers.  
Now, there is one thing I feel will never change despite the numerous predictions.  I hear all the time from many articles, friends in tech, and blogs that books will be a thing of the past.  My fifth grade students love searching the library for books.  They joyfully turn pages, trace pictures, and create collections of favorite authors.  Children even love the simple act holding books.  If given a choice to read online or read a book from our classroom library, 22 of my 24 students will go to their books.  These are the same kids who also embrace everything about technology.  Most of them have computers, iPads or iPhones, Kindles, and so much more.  Yet, they still turn to books when given free choice reading time.  I have a hard time believing iPads, Kindles, and other readers will replace books in the school system... at least in the elementary schools.  Time will tell!

Books will never go out of style in elementary classrooms!