Wednesday, January 25, 2012

P21, Education, and 21st Century Skills

Looking at the website of Partnership for 21st Century Skills, I had mixed emotions.

Their mission is a wonderful idea that I wish could be implemented instantly in schools throughout our nation. Simply put, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills’ mission is to bridge the gap between what students are learning in school and what skills they will need when they join the working world. They state that schools need to combine the 3 R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic) with the 4 C’s (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity).

This all sounds great! Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) offers a wealth of information about how 21st century skills are needed, which I full heartedly agree with. But like most education reforms, implementing 21st century skills will cost money. This is when my mixed emotions came in…

P21 offers professional development and guides for how to get started, but what it comes down to is that schools and districts will need to invest money and time to make a school wide change. The main cost will come from informing and providing professional development for teachers. Right now in the current climate, because 21st century skills are not tested, I do not see the implementation P21 suggests to be realistic.

Luckily, I am working at a school that is an International Bachelorette candidate school, which means we are working on transforming the way we teach so that students become effective global society members. When reviewing the P21 Core Toolkit, I found that some of the example lesson starters were similar to lessons/projects I am already beginning to integrate into my teaching. What was pleasantly surprising about some of the sample lesson starters offered in the toolkit, is not all of them require technology to be available. Some of the lessons were focused on critical thinking skills (real-life contexts) that anyone can implement in their classroom easily. While learning how to use technology is important, some schools do not have technology available, so it is encouraging to know that  21st century skills cant still be taught.

I recommend that anyone who is interested in implementing 21st century skills, check out this website. Regardless of whether or not this model will be implemented, it offers a wealth of information on why 21st century skills should be integrated in curriculum. I also recommend checking out their resources for educators (Route 21) because it offers a variety of input from what appears to be many community members. While, I think this resource database is at first hard to navigate, I did come across some worthy reading material on 21st century skills. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Blogs? In the classroom?

This week I have been thinking about how to use blogs in the classroom...

Blogs are a foreign territory for me. I've heard about them, read some occasionally, but nothing more. As I have been reading, "Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms" by Will Richardson, I've realized there are tons of things I could be doing!

For my 6th grade science class, I am thinking that a blog would be a great place to have discussions about what we have been doing in class! Also, there are many times my students want to know more, but unfortunately with strict pacing guides in place, we are forced to move on. 

I would use a blog to have students respond to questions and expand on concepts they wish we could have covered. Not only would this serve as a fun way to think critically about science, it would also give students a chance to be independent learners and thinkers. 

While I do not see the use of blogs as a homework activity, as some of my students do not have access to the Internet, it would be a great way to get students to talk and write about science in class. For my Master’s program, I watched a video this week of a teacher using blogs in the classroom. It was amazing to see groups discussing their answers before writing their blog responses!

Then, today in my science class, I experienced a situation that blogs would be great for! We were talking about the layers of the Earth and a student asked, which is hotter: the sun or the core of the Earth. That question would make a great blog post! A blog would allow my students to post about what they are curious about, giving students the chance to be independent and curious learners!

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

An Interesting Point of View

If you are like me and don't always feel great about our education system and are interested in change...then this is the video for you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Technology-An Overwhelming Concept for Education

We are surrounded by technology. In my house alone you can find eight devices in which I can access the Internet. I am constantly using technology in my life. Yet, technology has not made its way into my teaching. Yes, I have and use a document camera and laptop and often use Power Points to teach concepts. But, my students are not given the chance to use the technology in school that they use at home. It is my goal for this blog to offer a perspective as I delve into the world of technology in my classroom. I will share my triumphs and my failures and hopefully some of you will be willing to share your stories.