Teaching and technology…preparing today's students for tomorrow.

Posts tagged ‘21st Century Teaching’

Using the skills we teach – Mapping my mind.

21st Century Skills are an important new focus in education.  On July 16th I blogged about the role of the teacher in 21st Century Learning, but what are these “necessary skills” the 21st Century Teacher should be focusing on to teach the 21st Century Learner?

As I so often do, I turned to Google, and was amazed by what I found…There is no one, commonly accepted set of these.  There seem to be an infinite number of ways to group, label, and organize these same skills.  I found pages about skills in education, skills needed by today’s workforce, and even how to pages for software.  In my search to figure out the way that made the most sense to me I ran across a page appropriately labelled What are 21st Century Skills?

This page is published by a group called The Assessment and Teaching of 21st-Century Skills.  This group was created for a research project to proposes ways of assessing 21st-century skills and encourages teaching and adopting those skills in the classroom.  Not only was this categorization listing 21st Century skills in an education, but to me the categories made more sense than any other I found.

They break 21st Century Skills into four categories: ways of working, tools for working, ways of thinking, and skills for living in the world.  I see these as distinctly different categories, but yet all encompassing in a much more meaningful way than a simple listing of the numerous skills.

As I recently completed a technological enhanced unit plan for my graduate school course, I was challenged to address how this unit addresses 21st Century skills and represent this in a visual way.  Using bubbl.us I created this mind map showing the four categories I found and how this unit addresses them.

New-Mind-Map_2hjcvlkc

I attempted to embed it, but as I’ve said, I’m still learning these skills and it wouldn’t work, 😦 so I included the image above.  Click on the image to see, and be able to zoom, the map of my mind – at least as it relates to this topic. 🙂

I guess in this effort, I have challenged myself to use news ways of working, with new tools for working and a different way for thinking.  Utilizing the skills I am hoping to teach my students is a way to show we are always learning.  Lets hope I can continue to always use the skills I teach.

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Teacher or Educational Guide? A look at the role of the 21st Century Teacher.

So the new buzz phrase is the 21st Century Learner.  Everyone is talking about the skills needed by the 21st century learners.  Well, if there is this need for 21st century learners, how do we become 21st century teachers?

I recently read Shelly Wright’s blog post The Nuts and Bolts of 21st Century Teaching.  In her blog Shelly talks about a recent experience she had with project based learning (PBL) as her class was studying the Holocaust.  In this project the class was to create their own Holocaust museum.  The class outlined three areas of study, researched them and began to come up with ideas, but then they got stuck.

When students are stuck is the hardest for teachers.  I also find it the hardest as a parent.  How exactly do you help kids figure something out on their own? If you tell them or do it for them, you rob them of figuring it out and learning it themselves.  If you don’t, then you worry about frustration, shutdown, not caring, self-esteem.  I agree with Shelly when she said, “Its difficult to know how much to let them flail.”

Then she, as a 21st century teacher, did what I (a semester ago) would have never thought of – she turned to her blog!?!?  She shared her struggles and received a post that helped her.  This is something I think many “20th century teachers” would never think to do, but wow was it helpful!  The video that was sent to her in a comment I found inspirational and eye opening.  Chris Lehmann spoke about the changes in education for both learners and teachers.  He opened with “high school stinks”.  A bold statement that he followed with why it stinks and what we as educators can do about it.

At first I wasn’t sure how applicable the video would be to me.  It was focused on high school and I’m an elementary teacher.  Sure I thought it was eye opening and inspiring, but I was sure it wouldn’t make a difference in my classroom.  Then I heard “School was built on a model of information scarcity, and now we are in a world of information overload. …  Now our job is to make sure kids can make sense of the world.”  This flipped around the entire idea of teaching in my mind.  Teachers are no longer the ones to impart knowledge (teach) but will become more facilitators of knowledge.  Sure there will be things we teach, but the students may be as much of a “teacher” as we are… So what will the role of teachers become?  I think we will become less about the person teaching the information or imparting our wisdom and more about an educational guide to help our students figure it out.

For the 21st century learner will we still be teachers or will we become educational guides?   I think I want to be an educational guide…. Now, I’m off to see if I can figure out how to do that.  I’m taking the first step.  I have turned to my blog 😉

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