This is the first in a series of Know the ISTE Standards columns exploring the ISTE Standards for Teachers, which evaluate the skills and knowledge that educators need to teach, work and learn in an increasingly connected global and digital society. You can get additional guidance on evaluating learning materials from the NETS for Students Curriculum Planning Tool .
Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments.
Creativity appears in many forms, from creating physical models to creating questions. It is the teacher's role to make students aware that there are multiple ways to get to understanding and that they need to investigate and ask questions. To encourage creativity, teachers should design lessons with a variety of options for assignments and tasks. This student-led choice will encourage them to tap their own initiative, knowledge and interests to complete the task.
The three class activities described in the table below are designed to teach fourth graders about mathematics and data. Creativity is not a skill that's often connected with STEM subjects. Yet, as with all subjects, exercising creativity is one of the best ways to gain a deep understanding of concepts.
Standard 1: Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity. Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments.
Activity 1: The teacher gives students a set of numbers that represent the favorite colors of students in one grade level at an imaginary school. The teacher tells students to work individually to draw a bar chart on paper. The teacher then gives them another similar data set and asks them to compare the two sets of data.
Activity 2:The teacher gives the students a set of numbers that represent the favorite colors of students in one grade level at an imaginary school. Working in teams, they are asked to build a digital representation of the data, such as a bar chart, pie chart or picture of dots or cube counters. Students then work together to compare this data with another set of numbers that the teacher provides.
Activity 3: The teacher asks teams of students to think about healthy living as they build a digital representation " " such as a bar chart, pie chart, or picture of dots or cube counters " " of how all the fourth graders in their school travel to school. The groups then add these data to a national database. Students work together to compare the data they gathered to the national data.
a. Promote, support and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness.
Absent: The teacher does not give the students any choices.
Addresses: Students have an opportunity to select how they will represent data that the teacher has provided.
Addresses: Students have an opportunity to select how they will represent data they collected.
b. Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.
Absent: The data do not mean anything to the students, and they have few real-world issues connected with them. They have also not used digital tools.
Absent: The students may use digital tools, but they would not address this indicator, as the data is not tied to an authentic problem that would have meaning for the students. They had nothing to do with the data collection, so it does not represent real-world data to them.
Addresses: How students travel to school is a real-world issue. The comparison to national data can provide the students with findings that are relevant to their lives, such as health issues related to their own choice of travel. Digital tools help them represent data and learn about national data.
c. Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students' conceptual understanding and thinking, planning and creative processes.
Absent: The teacher asks students to work independently, so they do not use collaborative tools. There could be some student reflection, but it is not supported by the activities.
Probably absent: The teacher asks students to work in teams, but they are not using collaborative tools unless they use a collaborative digital tool to develop the representation.
Addresses: They use a collaborative data collection tool to gather data and share their findings. The individual-to-national comparison will give the teacher information about what the students understand.
d. Model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues and others in face-to-face and virtual environments.
Absent: The teacher asks students to work independently, and there are no face-to-face or virtual environments used in this activity.
Partially addresses: The teacher provides an opportunity for students to work face to face in teams but not necessarily in virtual environments.
Addresses: Students work in small groups and as a class in both face-to-face and virtual environments to add to a national database and develop an understanding of data concepts.
According to ISTE Standard for Teachers 1, educators should give students opportunities to be creative and reflective within a real-world context and to use digital tools and resources in both face-to-face and virtual environments. Although Activity 1 probably looks familiar " " you likely have experienced a math class like this in your own past " " it does not provide such opportunities. The lesson is teacher directed and offers no choice or possibility for the students to be creative. The teacher provides data that was already collected, probably from a textbook, leaving the students few opportunities to make any connection to the reasons that data is important. Neither the teacher nor the students use any digital tools in this activity.
In Activity 2, the students work in teams and choose how they want to represent the information. But they also receive previously collected data, again robbing them of the chance to make connections to why that information was gathered and its purpose. As the students develop their mathematical representations, they may choose to collaborate using a digital tool, although the activity does not specifically guide them toward collaborative technology.
The teacher in Activity 3 asks the students to work collaboratively in teams so they can have conversations about the data and make group decisions about how to represent it. The teacher has provided the context of healthy living, but the students collect their own meaningful data from their grade level. They use digital tools to collaboratively create a product and build an understanding of how the data they collected compare to real-world national data.
Helen Crompton is an assistant professor of instructional technology at Old Dominion University, Virginia. She is a researcher and educator in the field of instructional technology. She earned her Ph.D. in educational technology and mathematics education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.