Saturday, December 13, 2008

Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow, Today

For being a computer company, Apple has for long had insight into successful educational practices. Their highly-successful Apple Learning Interchange is a community of teachers using 21st century skills embedded with technology. And the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow, Today movement lays out a structure of what those classrooms would look like.

This has led to the Challenge Based Learning project, which has been newly released. Apple Distinguished Educators have collaborated to provide scaffolding for this 21st century learning. An interactive unit includes (from their handout):
  • The Big Idea: The big idea is a broad concept that can be explored in multiple ways, is engaging, and has importance to high school students and the larger society. Examples of big ideas are Identity, Sustainability, Creativity, Violence, Peace, and Power.
  • Essential Question: By design, the big idea allows for the generation of a wide variety of essential questions that should reflect the interests of the students and the needs of their community. Essential questions identify what is important to know about the big idea and refine and contextualize that idea.
  • The Challenge: From each essential question a challenge is articulated that asks students to create a specific answer or solution that can result in concrete, meaningful action.
  • Guiding Questions: Generated by the students, these questions represent the knowledge students need to discover to successfully meet the challenge.
  • Guiding Activities: These lessons, simulations, games, and other types of activities help students answer the guiding questions and set the foundation for them to develop innovative, insightful, and realistic solutions.
  • Guiding Resources: This focused set of resources can include podcasts, websites, videos, databases, experts, and so on that support the activities and assist students with developing a solution.
  • Solutions: Each challenge is stated broadly enough to allow for a variety of solutions. Each solution should be thoughtful, concrete, actionable, clearly articulated, and presented in a publishable multimedia format such as an enhanced podcast or short video.
  • Assessment: The solution can be assessed for its connection to the challenge, accuracy of the content, clarity of communication, applicability for implementation, and efficacy of the idea, among other things. In addition to the solution, the process that the individuals as well as teams went through in getting to a solution can also be assessed, capturing the development of key 21st century skills.
  • Publishing: The challenge process allows for multiple opportunities to document the experience and publish to a larger audience. Students are encouraged to publish their results online, soliciting feedback. The idea is to broaden the learning community and foster discussion about solutions to the challenges important to students.
Apple provides some sample projects in all the core areas, which detail each of the steps above. This is an excellent example of integrating 21st century skills and technology into the classroom, in alignment with the Iowa Core Curriculum

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