(image from mollyfletcher.com)
Throughout the Creating Significant Environments graduate course, I have rediscovered the importance of doing just that – creating a significant learning environment. As teachers, we often hear that creating the right environment in your classroom will allow your students to feel welcome, comfortable, and safe. After reading about significant learning environments, I was able to reflect on my own classroom in order to explore and develop ideas to improve my classroom learning environment. While reflecting on that, I was also able to understand how my learning philosophy plays a role in how I organize my classroom. Providing opportunities for my students to collaborate, reflect, and revise their work are essential parts of my learning philosophy, but they are also how children (and adults) learn best. Determining the expectations I have for my students in regards to their learning and what I hope they gain as a result, are parts to the process of instilling lifelong learning in my students.
While teachers understand that creating a significant learning environment is important, it can be difficult to determine where to begin doing this. Fortunately, through this course, I was given the opportunity to create a BHAG – big hairy audacious goal – for the ePorftolio innovation plan that I am working towards implementing in my classroom. After reviewing Fink’s Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning, I was able to align outcomes, assessments, and activities within a 3-column table to make the learning environment for my ePortfolio implementation significant. I was also able to view and practice using Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design template to further plan activities and generate essential questions to guide the use of eportfolios within in my classroom. For my ePortfolio plan, I believe Fink’s 3 column table model would be more effective because it is overarching, which would be more appropriate for a full or multi-year innovation plan.
These types of planning tools guided me in continuing to develop my ideas and activities to implement ePortfolios and to create a significant environment. However, there is something even more important to consider when creating a significant learning environment, and that is developing a growth mindset within your classroom and amongst your students. Carol Dweck provides perspective on the power of “yet” which is important when helping students develop a growth mindset when it comes to their learning. A growth mindset is something that all teachers, students, and parents should model and encourage. By incorporating Carol Dweck’s growth mindset ideas into the ePortfolios, students will understand the importance of developing a growth mindset throughout their lives as lifelong learners.
Developing the idea to implement ePortfolios into my classroom was easy. Through my work in this course though, I have learned that there is much more to implementing ePortfolios than just a singular idea. From creating a significant learning environment to developing a BHAG and then incorporating a growth mindset, each part of this course has helped me to ensure that my students will be given specific opportunities to learn and grow. As the planner of this initiative, I have much influence in ensuring the content and learning environment is significant. The tools that I have developed in this course have prepared me even further to implement ePortfolios.
Fink, L. D. (2003). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning [PDF]. Retrieved from https://luonline.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-3515450-dt-content-rid-55238620_1/courses/13238.201890/Self-Directed%20Guide%20to%20Course%20Design%20-%20Fink%20Summary.pdf
Mindset. [Photograph]. (2014, December 11). Retrieved from https://mollyfletcher.com/erase-these-seven-toxic-words-with-a-growth-mindset/
Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005) Understanding by design 2nd Edition. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.