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

Posts tagged ‘digitial learning’

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.


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.


Stuck Sideways…

The movement of flipped classroom is one that is gaining momentum.  I shared in a previous post the blog I found written by Jon Bergmann called Flipped Learning: Turning Learning on Its Head!   To try to get more perspective on the topic I began exploring a few other blogs to understand all points of view.

I first found To Flip or Not to Flip? By Jeff Dunn.  This blog totes the greatness that is flipped instruction.  He goes on to share that since using this model his students have gotten their voice back in the classroom, gotten more individual attention from teachers during class time, taken ownership for their learning and increased their AP test scores.  After reading this blog I was just sure that this was a great new thing, and that I was going to figure out how to do it with my second graders.

With all this excitement built up, I kept looking at other blogs.  Since I was trying to get a more clear picture of the movement I was drawn to the blog Flipped Classroom: Pro and Con by Mary Beth Hertz.  This post does a great job of breaking down what flipped classroom is, what it isn’t, the benefits and concerns about the model.  It shares clearly that the flipped classroom is not just about videos, but the interactions that occur in the class after watching the videos that are the most important.  She goes onto say it is NOT stock videos created by some company or a way for those companies to make money, but must have a direct link to the curriculum, standards and activities they do the next day in class.  So far, I’m still in 🙂

Then she moves onto why it does and doesn’t work.  The reasons it works are clear in both the first and second blogs I read, but Mary Beth focused on the way it individualizes instruction allowing students to move at their own pace, repeat instruction if they desire and free up the teachers time in class to work closer with students on what they need to.  This is followed by the biggest question by most educators: what to do about students that don’t have at home access? Then, more importantly, that not everyone learns best through a screen.  I work in a fairly well off suburban school, so I am not as concerned about access for my students. What to do about the kids that don’t learn well with a screen??  The first troublesome question for me.  Hmmm.

Then I find the most thought provoking section: “Why It’s Nothing New”.  Nothing new?  This is the buzz topic, the newest way of teaching out there right? Mary Beth goes onto say that the premise of flipped classroom isn’t so different than what John Dewey proposed at the turn of the 20th century: “learning is centered on the student, not the teacher.”  So maybe this concept isn’t new?  The question she poses is: “Are we doing things differently, or just doing different things?”  Hmmm again.  This one really does make me think.  Is giving instruction in this way really doing something differently, or is it just a different thing that gives us more time in the classroom.

This led me to thinking about the role of the teacher again.  The traditional model of the teacher being the “sage-on-the-stage” and lecturing is being challenged by the model of the teacher being the “guide-on-the-side”. As I have mentioned in previous postings, I tend to lean towards being a guide, but are we really getting to do that with a flipped classroom.  By providing a “lecture” on video, are we not still being the sage-on-the-stage and imparting our wisdom?  Yes, there may be more time in class to work with students, which is great, but is this really something different or just different things?

I need to learn more…I am very much inspired by the positive results this model is having, but I am thoughtful and want to know more about some of the concerns.  Although I am still optimistic and on my way to flipping upside down, I am still figuring it out.  For now I am not yet upside down, but maybe stuck sideways.


No Games? No Fun? Yeah Right…


No Games. No Fun.  Focus. Read. Write. Memorize the facts.  Really?!?! As I am planning for my first “end of the year” I have asked other educators what will happen the last few days of school.  The answer I often get is that we’ll be done with learning then and will mostly be playing games.

Done learning?  Just playing games?

A traditional view of education says that a teacher’s job is to impart wisdom and facts to the students, and the student’s job is to learn what they are taught.  Christopher Lehmann, the principal at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA says, “society has evolvImageed past that, schools haven’t yet.”   As John Dewey said, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow”.  Today’s students no longer need to survive in a one dimensional work world, but need to be able to “navigate in a buzz of confusion.”

PBS’s video Digital Media* New Learners of the 21st Century explores the new face of learning today.  As the program explores a variety of different cutting edge educational programs across the US, I find one idea connects all the various concepts.  The students see the approaches as games.  Fun, engaging games.

Taking this approach, the Quest 2 Learn school in New York, NY bases all learning on games.  “A game is a problem space.  All a video game is is a set of problems that you must solve to win.”  At the Smithsonian Institute students are now using cell phones to create scavenger games to interact with museum artifacts.  In most settings games also lead to group interaction. According to John Seely Brown, “One of the best ways to learn something is to teach something. In peer based collaboration you are both learning and teaching.”

This approach of games as instruction can address more than motivation and interest.  James Gee of Arizona State University says, “If a learning system is well designed you don’t finish it without the guarantee that you’ve learned it already…Learning & assessment are the same thing.  The learning system assesses itself.”  This would eliminate the need for stressful, high stakes, time and money consuming testing.  And that’s just a side benefit.

I’m not sure what will happen in your classroom, but tomorrow in my class, we are going to BE LEARNING while we play some games!  And dare I say it, some of them will even be on a computer!Image


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