Sooner or later many parents will be going through the experience of their eldest child commencing High School. Undoubtedly, as this day approaches, the brain races back to their own first day in the ‘big school’ with all its uncertainties, fears and expectations. Remembering how they become separated from their friends and panicking, not finding the next class, coupled with the scariest thing of all, dodging all those older towering students, forgot where the bathrooms were.
Well mums and dads, all these things are still there except that this is the 21st century, and even if the buildings have not changed, education has moved on enormously since you had your first day in secondary school. Today the teaching which students are submerged into is all geared towards a far more comprehensive and independent learning which will better prepares them for their adult life. If you had not noticed, today’s employment agencies keep mentioning ‘team work, able to work independently, meeting deadlines and so on.
From day one, lessons in every subject are based on interactive and independent learning in which young students are taught to research, investigate, analyse, decipher and finally present as part of the group they have been allocated to.
The actual set up of the classroom has also changed; where the teacher would once face the students, now he/she has two desks; one at the front and one at the back of the room. When the students have their back to the teacher, he/she has a clear view of all the students’ monitors. (There are always two or three little angels who will attempt to play games instead of following instructions). When the teacher faces the students, this is the time when instructions are given; these are short and to the point. For the slower students printed handouts are made available. The blackboard, or in some cases the whiteboard has vanished and replaced by the ‘interactive white board ‘ which connects to the computer with an array of tools and live programs with which teaching takes place. Though this innovative medium, each student follows the instructions on its own personal computer and moves from site to site bookmarking what they consider important for their research while learning to ignore irrelevant data.
With spelling, reading and writing, programs such as ‘Tegxedo’, are used. Through these students will practice spelling words they have been instructed to learn. The program makes the learning interesting and fun through the different forms words are displayed, while at the same time giving the student full control of how he/she will be learning them.
In the modern classroom, ‘blogging and wikis’ become the indispensable tools of English creative and analytical writing. Before these are commenced, the teacher will introduce an issue which is suitable and relevant to the age and understanding of the class. When the discussion is over, each learner will log on to produce its own blog or wiki. Sounds innovative? Not in the least; how many children today have not experienced ‘You Tube, Twitter or a chat line? Through these mediums children progress with their socialization, so why not produce blogs and wikis to publish their writings and academic findings?