“Getting out of the classroom and engaging in learning activities gives students the opportunity to integrate knowledge from many different subjects, while using different skills. Students become excited and are eager to learn more things,” said Ms. Jirawan Nachai, a math teacher at Ratchaprachanukroh 23 School, Phitsanulok.
The challenge of developing students’ knowledge and abilities is even more pronounced in educational institutions serving students who lack opportunities, like Ms. Jirawan’s school.
Ms. Jirawan discussed the obstacles in teaching at her school: “Teachers have to analyze students’ needs because they come with different skills and knowledge. The focus should be placed on those lacking opportunities, in terms of financial resources, actual learning experience and access to quality equipment.”
Although it is not a school with abundant resources, Ratchaprachanukroh 23 School is actively developing students’ potential for creativity and critical thinking. The school is currently implementing a Professional Learning Community (PLC) program, coinciding with the launch of the We Think Digital project by Kenan and Facebook. 21st century skills including 4C skills (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication) are incorporated into the We Think Digital content, which aims to share knowledge on the safe and creative use of digital technology and social media.
“The school is currently working on a project that examines mosquito-repelling herbs. We Think Digital has helped the school greatly as the teachers who participated have realized the importance of systematic thinking and strategic problem solving—these are the skills that teachers will use to create the mosquito-repelling herb project with their students,” Ms. Jirawan shares.
The teachers have put together a step-by-step plan for the project. First, they will take the students to explore the local herbs in the school, during which students can study the different types of herbs, their properties and usefulness. Afterwards, this data will be organized into information that is easy to absorb for the students. Getting out of the classroom and engaging in learning activities gives students the opportunity to integrate skills and knowledge from many different areas, making them more excited and eager to learn.
Using Enhanced Project-Based Learning (E-PBL) in teaching helps students see the importance of the subject through the lens of their daily lives and creates an environment in which 4C skills are clearly used. Teachers will see students having fun talking, coming up with ideas collaboratively and presenting them in a creative way. As a result, the class will be lively and interactive, instead of having the teacher doing all the talking, while students are bored, some to the point of falling asleep.
Ms. Jirawan was clearly impressed when she learned more about We Think Digital: “The project approach includes a creative use of online media in a way that speaks to the youth. The speakers present subtleties that we sometimes do not notice, such as positive communication and providing encouragement to friends in order to create an inviting and safe online community for all users.”
“I would like other teachers to have the opportunity to receive training from good projects like this to create a Professional Learning Community. If all teachers are given the same opportunity, it will help facilitate knowledge exchange between teachers, and this will benefit both school and students. The more well-rounded and knowledgeable the teachers are, the happier and more willing to learn the students will be,” said Ms. Jirawan in conclusion.
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