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Refresh Your Teaching with the ISTE Standards for Students

Start empowering your students to become critical creators!

Fanny Passeport | March 31, 2017

Have you heard of the new ISTE Standards for Students? Released at the ISTE Conference in Denver last June, these seven standards focus on essential skills for success in a connected, digital world. If you haven't been incorporating them into your instruction, now is a great time to refresh your lessons and start integrating them. Read on for an overview of the standards along with tips on how to try them out in your classroom.

1. Empowered Learner

"Engaging" versus "empowering" students requires shifting the focus from the teacher to the learner or from the teaching to the learning. Instead of simply following the teacher's leadership, empowered students can become agents of their own learning. Empowered students can choose a goal, decide how to proceed to research and present content, self-differentiate by choosing their learning paths, and demonstrate learning and transfer it to another learning opportunity -- all because they develop a growth mindset that allows them to take ownership and apply their skills to other situations.

Try it. Try empowering your students by adapting the classroom to increase student agency. For instance, create a learner-centered classroom by changing the physical space. Try adding visible and tangible learning demonstrations (where students create tutorials, for example), design thinking elements (thinking walls with Post-its), and flexible seating (a few beanbags don't hurt!).

2. Digital Citizen

Before our students can take ownership of this skill, the school has to adopt a digital citizenship curriculum to teach students safe and responsible technology use. Beyond this, we must also ensure that students have many opportunities to safely explore the digital world through interactive tools and games such as Common Sense Education's Digital Passport and Digital Compass.

Try it. Everyday implementation of this standard includes choosing a learning platform that encourages student voices -- for example, Seesaw and Google Classroom. These platforms let students experience a sense of audience (at different scales), become authors, and understand the responsibility that comes along with authorship.

3. Knowledge Constructor

Don't consume -- create! This idea is a huge focus in the new standards. Learners should develop a strong sense of ethics when it comes to media creation. Help them learn to express their unique perspectives and evaluate their own work. We also want them reflecting on creative credit to protect their work and the work of others. Building knowledge and exploring content online require thinking critically and being digitally literate.

Try it. To develop skills, integrate the design-thinking model into your instructional design. Creating a "makerspace," or even just making room for "maker moments," can open opportunities for students to investigate, create, make prototypes, and iterate.

4. Innovative Designer

Teachers are often under a lot of pressure to be the sole designers of learning experiences. What results is something I call "curriculum engineering" -- building excessive curriculum evidences and paperwork. But curriculum should not be a synonym for "building documentation."

Try it. One way to develop an "innovative designer" mindset in our students is to allow them to collaborate on developing course curricula. Have students find and choose the appropriate tools and resources around the design cycle by brainstorming, researching, presenting, and reflecting. Then empower them to determine relevant course content (within the boundaries of the subjects/strands) and have them show their learning journeys using a digital journal or videos.

5. Computational Thinker

While this standard typically refers to coding and programming, at its core it's about problem-solving. This standard does not imply that all teachers should become IT teachers and teach coding but that all students need to have access to opportunities (online or offline) that allow them to develop a tinkering mindset. This can mean integrating space for "making" and STEAM activities whenever possible. It also means designing opportunities for students to collect data, analyze it, and respond to the findings. This standard engages students in manipulating data digitally and physically to conceptualize a problem and make connections to the real world.

Try it. Students could create surveys (using Google Forms, for instance), observe the collected data on a spreadsheet, and analyze it through various representations -- for instance, by using a pivot table to rearrange data or using motion charts to track entities and values.

6. Creative Communicator

It's time to go beyond speaking over a PowerPoint. Becoming a creative communicator is not only about selecting the style and format of the message; students need to focus on developing creativity and creating "original work" or "responsibly repurposing." Our students are expected to use visuals, models, and simulations to grow a sense of audience and authorship.

Try it. Interactive presentations engage the audience, encouraging them to learn. Tools such as Pear Deck or Socrative support participants' voices. A clever combination of tools can promote multimedia integration (for example, ThingLink and YouTube video embedded on a blog). Students could also decide to represent ideas in ways that show data in an original way -- using a word-cloud tool or Answer Garden, for instance.

7. Global Collaborator

These days, we can't deny the connectivity in which we all live. This standard promotes the use of social media for collaboration. It encourages the creation of more opportunities for all learners to broaden their intercultural understanding and to genuinely experience interactions with others.

Try it. Mystery Skypes or Mystery Hangouts are amazing ways to develop global (or even "glocal") collaboration projects that enhance the intercultural mindedness and autonomy of students. With these activities, students are in charge of their learning, they have roles and responsibilities, and the learning occurs while they plan, video-conference, and reflect on the experience.