To be successful today is less about knowledge and more about what you do with it.
Author Sharon Sakai-Miller says that’s the essential difference between teaching in the information age and teaching in the innovation age.
“In the innovation age, it’s not so much about what you know, but the ability to use the knowledge that you have,” Sakai-Miller says. “We begin thinking about what kids need to know to thrive. What’s useful? What do they care about? How can they make an impact?”
Sakai-Miller, who is director of technology integration services at San Lorenzo Unified School District near Oakland, California, encourages educators to get the heart of innovation age teaching by asking three questions about the lessons they’re preparing: What? So what? Now what?
It’s the answer to “now what” that will tell you if you’re on the right track.
The “what” is the basic concept or skill, the learning outcome. The “so what” is the information that makes it relevant and explains how the ideas relate to one another. The “now what” is what students should do with the information.
Putting it another way, educators should consider: What is the idea I want to share? How is this relevant? What is the action I hope students will take?
“When I clarify my thinking with these three sets of words, it tells me how effective I’m going to be with what I’m going to share or present,” Sakai-Miller says.
Take a social studies lesson on citizenship, for example. You might start with a historical perspective of citizenship, what it means and where the ideas come from. Next, you extend the idea of citizenship beyond belonging to a country or community. Then, with the “now what” information, students learn about being good digital citizens and can model what it looks like to be a digital citizen.
When the ultimate goal of learning goes beyond basic knowledge, educators can focus on what they need to do to make the lesson authentic.
“Students should be able to do more than explain (citizenship); they should be able to live it,” Sakai-Miller explains. At the end of the lesson, “students should be empowered to be people who stand up for others; maybe they feel able to share information with others so there is less cyberbullying.”
And in the innovation age, that’s what counts. “The whole goal is empowerment and empathetic thinking. It makes learning count for something beyond the classroom,” Sakai-Miller says.
Learn more about how to move your teaching practice into the innovation with Sakai-Miller’s new book, Innovation Age Learning.