A significant learning environment is one where deep learning takes place and the learner actually experiences change as a person, making connections and learning about themselves in the process as well as mastering new skills. This is not the traditional classroom experience, as most any student can tell you. Even as teachers, we often would like to create a different experience for the learner than we are currently providing. Here you can find some resources I explored to help make this type of learning a reality.
I read and reviewed a book called A new culture of learning which had some interesting ideas about sparking imagination, using constraints to aid imagination to flourish and how to engage students using the same values as strategic games and community learning.
I reflected on my own learning philosophy, which brought me back to my first love in teaching: Montessori. I am much of a constructivist at heart as you will see as I share a few thoughts regarding how I view the learning process and what works for me.
Dr. Jonathan Stolk, a University professor and engineer, talks about the power of real tools, real choice and real trust in this TedTalk. COVA needs to be the underlying pulse of the environment we create, and although Stolk may not be familiar with COVA itself, he promoted and explains several of it’s key values.
Creating a significant learning environment does not happen by itself – it requires a lot of planning. I used two templates to create a course outline / plan. I am reworking the entire curriculum right now as we are beginning to use new materials, so the scope and the order the things we teach is slightly changing. I used a unit from a French III course to try out the 3 column table taught by Fink, and then the Understanding by Design template to plan out the logistics of the course. The 3 column table is a broad view of my goals for who the learner will become and what they will gain from the course, while the UBD template covers the activities that the learner will perform and how they will show their progress. I found both of these to be very helpful.
Finally I revisited Carol Dweck and the Growth Mindset. This book lays out what must be the foundational outlook for any significant learning to take place in the classroom (or anywhere else in life) and I cannot emphasize enough how important this mindset is to success!
Digital Image from Dr. Harapnuik: https://www.slideshare.net/nethowto/asq-csle
Stolk, J. 2015. Creating Autonomy-Supportive Learning Environments TEDxSMU. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/SxlFzrfdqa4