I love science fiction and action movies and it doesn't get much better than The Matrix trilogy. At the time the Matrix was released in 1999, it was forging new roads in visual effects and in its use of technology. Machines were taking over the world and humans needed to rebel. As I work with teachers, some are feeling like Neo; threatened by machines and needing to rebel. For those teachers, I wish I had magic glasses that would let them see into the matrix to better understand how it's constructed, because I picture instruction like a huge creative matrix, and as teachers, we write the code.
In math, a matrix is an array of rows and columns made up of elements, It is also defined as something that constitutes the place or point from which something else originates, takes form, or develops. When applied to instruction, it's an array of tools, strategies, and design elements that form a point where students develop meaning and learning takes place.
The first step to designing a more creative matrix, is to take inventory of your current matrix. Think about your curriculum and the tools that you rely on most as you ask the following questions:
|What tools, resources, and strategies|
do you already have in place?
- What is your "go to" mode of instruction? Direct instruction? Teamwork?
- Do you spend most of your time in front of the room or are you moving with your students?
- Do you follow the curriculum guides lesson by lesson, or do you occasionally venture down a rabbit hole?
- Does technology play a role in your instruction? If so, how much?
- Do you deliver curriculum or help students discover curriculum?
- Is there balance between instruction and learning?
- What do you feel are your strengths as a teacher? Weaknesses?
As you think about your current practices and materials, evaluate their effectiveness. Do they engage students? Are they modeling 21st century skills? Are you feeling the creativity flow through your students and your classroom? If not, you may have some code that needs rewriting.
Expanding the Matrix
|Re-design your matrix|
Maybe you need more than a Matrix Reloaded, maybe you need a Matrix Revolution. Model innovation by re-thinking your entire practice and reconstructing your classroom. Re-invent your space, explore project based learning, learn about design thinking, flip a few lessons, always assume there's another way. Cultivate creative learners and offer students opportunities to focus on process over product. Model taking risks, failing, and acting on what you learn. Teach students how to see challenges and solutions from every angle while learning how to ask the right questions. Today's students are not just consumers of technology but need to learn to be creators of technology, and while we are not all able to write complicated computer code, we can encourage students to be curious, to be passionate, to be risk takers and persevere. Building those skills and opportunities into your creative matrix will help your students succeed at designing their own matrix. Super intelligent machines may sometime decide to take over the world and we may need students who know how to reboot the matrix.
By: Kami Thordarson, Innovative Strategies Coach