Innovative instructional strategies for millennial learners
– by Divya Kapoor, Headmistress, Pragyan School, Greater Noida
It is common for the debate on the curricula to be grounded on the fundamental question: Which values, viewpoints strategies and forms of knowledge do future students need to acquire so that they can live creatively in the world of tomorrow? On the basis of this question, the notional framework of curriculum development is founded on the effort of defining the world of the future and the most important factors which shape it.
Today’s classrooms are full of diverse learners with varying needs. Nowadays many new teachers and even some experienced ones find it extremely difficult to engage the children in their classrooms. However, this change in the student teacher interaction needs to be managed in the most innovative, balanced and comprehensive way possible, by connecting with students in new ways. Just like the farmer, teachers act as catalyst to create the right learning environment to facilitate students’ knowledge and understanding as such the need to use the right tools to enhance the development of each child in terms of cognition, creativity and thinking come to the fore.
So, developing a relevant and flexible curriculum is of paramount importance to provide a wholesome experience to the millennial learners. Curriculum development is not just about pedagogy, assessment or instructional strategies; it is more about creating a conducive learning environment that focuses on student engagement and becomes a compelling reason for the students to come to school. Students are more likely to be engaged in learning activities when teachers involve them in tasks which are intellectually meaningful, provide them with an opportunity to learn through feedback and participation and is evaluated on the basis of understanding and learning rather than work completion, performance comparison or right answers. It is thus imperative for teachers to recognize the changing needs of the learners and develop a curriculum which embraces student engagement.
The upcoming trends
Designing an innovative course content is one of the biggest challenge educational experts are confronted with these days. Rejuvenating course content focussing on experiential learning, interdisciplinary approach, multiple intelligences and global connect from a significant part of the curriculum design. Educators need to think creatively and reflect upon past experiences to create the course content which must be a mixed bag of compulsory subjects along with innovative programs to inculcate life skills, foster values, stimulate engagement and create awareness about sustainable development goals (SDGs) amongst the students.
The current educational scenario suggests that the instructional strategies fail to provide practical and deep knowledge to the students. It also does not cater to students with special needs and varied learning styles. A teacher can thus use variety of methodologies depending upon the subject, topic, level and profile of the learners. Stimulus can be provided through pre-reading activities, exploratory questions etc to arouse interest in the students. Some of the innovative instructional strategies that can be implemented include:
- Experiential learning: The curriculum followed should help in building a learning environment where the teachers and students are collaboratively involved, fostering challenging academic and para academic practices. These include designing innovative lesson transactions which should involve activities like community outreach programs, practical hands on experiences, peer assessment, theatre in education, model making etc. to name a few. The teachers should focus on instilling imagination in the millennial learners by providing them a platform for self-expression in form of various intra and inter school competitions and also encouraging them to write self-composed poems and articles for the school magazine.
- Integration of SDG’s (sustainable development goals) in the curriculum: A global learning school has leaders, teachers and students working together as global learners in achieving the objectives towards a successful whole school approach. Schools should offer students with an opportunity to reflect upon the current global problems and work collaboratively to devise plausible solutions for the same. A myriad of activities centred on SDG’s and global learning can be conducted at three levels formal, non-formal, informal as an integral part of the curriculum planning.
- Art integrated learning: Art integrated learning is not only relevant for developing creativity and art appreciation among students but is also necessary for inculcating art-based enquiry skills. A plethora of opportunities for art integrated learning can be provided in the classroom through activities based on both visual and performing arts. Classroom transactions may include activities like role plays, song compositions, model creation,collage and poster making, clay modelling etc. Special clubs can also be initiated to helps students focus on skills like photography, dance, vocal and instrumental music, creative writing, dramatics and culinary art. Such exposures not only make our classrooms joyful and creative but also promote appreciation of our rich art and cultural heritage.
- Integration of global dimension: Integration of global dimension is an important element in our school curriculum. The education practices followed in school should encompass global community, international linkages and increased awareness about world cultures and beliefs; the larger goal is to develop global competencies. For the same, the schools may offer innumerable platforms to the students in the form of international collaborations with different countries. The schools should also provide students with frequent opportunities to interact with other students from around the world through video conferencing and team blogging. This enables students to get an opportunity to express their views on significant topics of global concern like poverty, freedom of belief, identity etc.
- Interdisciplinary projects: A common theme is woven around a group of subjects with an objective to provide ample opportunity to apply the skills like communication and collaboration, creativity and imagination, critical thinking problem solving, student autonomy etc.
- Using campus as a resource: Campus can be utilized effectively by the teachers to explain scientific and mathematical concepts to students. Nature walks and outdoor activities can be optimally utilised to help students to channelize their energy.
- Digital learning: Technology can bridge the gap between classroom and home learning. Students can collaborate with peers and teachers. Lessons can be customized to suit each students’ progress and learning style. Many Microsoft tools, educational games, popplet, geogebra, twitter, more etc. are some online platforms which help students learn independently and build upon their skills.
- Engaging classroom program: The essence of the engaging classroom lies in developing the understanding of the students and equipping them with a platform where they can become more affiliated with the school- based learning in general. It is a crucial method through which teachers can analyse student ideas, hone their skills, and make them partake new social roles. Its purpose is to provide opportunities to different students with varied interests and capabilities to learn diverse topics through distinctive media, such as books, journals, games, and presentations. Engaging Activities provides students with the opportunities to collaborate where they learn to work in a team, share responsibilities, make substantial decisions and ensure their work is interdependent.
- Value education program: Our approach towards education should be to rekindle values, to evolve the good, the true and the divine in the students. The educators should make an earnest attempt to develop a value-based program which can be implemented on weekly basis in the all classes. The content developed by the teachers should include carefully selected stories, anecdotes, videos, presentations and innovative thoughtful activities. These modules will provide students with an opportunity to consider the importance of human values and attitudes in shaping the future. It will also provide ideas and examples for exploring values in the classroom including both value clarification and value analysis.
On a concluding note…
Learning methodologies and teaching patterns have to change from time to time. An Integrated Curriculum may be considered as an effective solution to many learning related problems. Interdisciplinary learning systems have the capacity to nurture creative thinkers and problem solvers. It is time for the stakeholders of education – the school and the teachers to analyze and accept the requisite transition. The examples of engaging learning tasks presented in this article show that we can devise authentic learning tasks with authentic assessment strategies but they are only sustainable as long as the educators driving the innovations are on board to keep it all going.
Educators need to think creatively and reflect upon past experiences to create the course content which must be mixed bag of compulsory subjects along with innovative programs to inculcate life skills, foster values, stimulate engagement and create awareness about sustainable development goals(SDGs) amongst the students.
The area of curriculum development is not just an area of model building and plain technocratic methods and rationalized expertise. Moreover, it is not merely a process to be learned and implemented with the aim of achieving specific results. It is, beyond all these, means of achieving status, the conditions and terms of the ontological reaffirmation of each person in society as well as of every specific society in the community of Europe and the globe. Only by such means can formal education prove effective in the development of critical reason and the promotion of communication, and interaction in a productive and humanized world.
Curriculum development is not just about pedagogy, assessment or instructional strategies; it is more about creating a conducive learning environment that focuses on student engagement and becomes a compelling reason for students to come to school.
Educators should make an earnest attempt to develop a value-based program which can be implemented on weekly basis in the all classes. The content developed by the teachers should include carefully selected stories, anecdotes, videos, presentations and innovative thoughtful activities.
Divya Kapoor is currently working as Headmistress in Prgayan School, Greater Noida. She is a progressive teacher with an experience of 13 years. She has been instrumental in creating engaging classrooms by introducing interdisciplinary approach, flipped classroom, integration of ICT and activities based on international dimension. Areas of her expertise include developing quality interventions in the teaching learning space, using instructional strategies, designing SDG based activities and flexible assessments. She has received the prestigious Global Teacher Award 2019 and CBSE National Award 2018 for her contributions in the field of education. She has also been conferred twice with the Life Empowerment Award for Life skills and Value Education by Expressions India in collaboration with CBSE.