Teaching Tips

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Even though the semester is over for the students, we, the professors, are getting ready to begin planning for the next semester, while in the midst of grading our current students’ work.

To help with prepping for next semester, I am sharing a 21st Century Checklist that my students generated in class.  I’m guessing you all have heard the buzzwords “21st Century Education.”  Did you know the Education Department teaches a class called, “21st Century Learning?”

The students in this class have been studying what educators are considering as they prepare their students for the 21st century (what’s left of it, anyway). As a culminating activity the students brainstormed questions they would ask themselves as educators based on the concepts they studied this semester.  The students thought these questions would be helpful for you all as you plan your courses.

The following is the checklist they compiled:

o Do you require students to do the majority of the question -generating and -posing?

o Do you give students ownership of their learning by building in student-choice?

o Do you give students ownership of their learning by having them generate the grading criteria?

o Do you build a learning community through “get to know you” and “trust building” exercises?

o Do you think about the context (location/ physical environment) of each lesson to best support the learning?

o Do you think about the culture (social/emotional environment) of each lesson to best support the learning?

o Do you create opportunities for students to learn how to be better collaborators?

o Do you focus on how to be a good or successful learner?

o Do you model life-long learning in your own practice?

o Do you offer students the opportunity to learn through experimentation, “play,” or discovery?

o Do you use class time for students to create?

o Do you utilize peer-to-peer feedback to enhance learning?

o Do you engage students in projects that are “real life”?

o Does your feedback focus on the learning process more than the grade?

o Do you engage students in self-assessment?

o Do you vary the learning in ways that meet the needs of kinesthetic, visual, auditory, verbal, logical/mathematical, natural, interpersonal, and intrapersonal learners?

o Do you incorporate brainstorming techniques in your class?

o Do students feel like they are necessary to the class?

Feel free to use these questions as guidelines in planning your course for next semester.  Let us know how they helped in the comments below.


Winnie Needham is an education professor at Principia College.  In addition to teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family, playing games, and reading.

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