Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas

Today I am only in the office for half a day. This is a good thing (just like before Thanksgiving) because I need this break more than I've ever needed a break before. I need the break for my mind as much as my body. I'm tired.

Being the only Instructional Technology Specialist has really eaten away at me, though my supervisors would tell you I'm doing a great job. I have kept my head above water which, some days, just means that my nose is sticking out of the water to allow me to breath just enough to stay alive. I haven't had the time to do some of the things I want to do and things I feel are important (like posting to this blog), but, as far as I know, I've been able to maintain the help are districts are used to receiving.

The plan is still to post the job in March (I'm keeping my fingers crossed!) so after the break there are just a few more months before we can try again. That gives me a renewed sense of, "I can do this."

This Christmas break will involve taking a winter intercession class (Computer Technology and Reading Instruction) for my Master's Degree, but it will also involve resting and relaxing with my family. My brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews will be here (YEAH!), my mother's parents will spend Christmas with us and my dad's dad will be here the Saturday after Christmas. We will enjoy our time together knowing that life can change in a moment even though, at times, it seems as if the everyday of life is enough to make one go insane. We will laugh, we will cry (my Papa - my mom's dad - likes "family time" which usually involves tears :)), we will eat, and we will be miserable together from over-eating. We will play games (my dad always wins... :)), we will watch Christmas Vacation (family tradition...), and we will read the Christmas story (have to remember the "Reason for the Season"...). The most important thing, though, is that we will relish in the time spent together and share in making some really special memories.

Merry Christmas All!

p.s. This is cross-posted at my personal blog:

Monday, December 15, 2008

21st Century Skills and English Map

On November 24th, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills released the 21st Century Skills and English Map which is:
a new framework that provides educators with teacher-created models of how 21st century skills can be infused into English classes.

How wonderful is that! A map that will help English teachers infuse 21st century skills into their classroom. And, better yet, it's using a teacher-created model! Wonderful!

They also have a map for Social Studies as well as many other publications. I encourage you to visit their publication listing and choose one to read/review. If you find something outstanding, post that information as a reply to this post and share with everyone else!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Good 'Ol Days of Wheelwright, Kentucky

I have subscribed to receive notifications of any new Edutoipa articles and this one caught my eye. The title of the article is Community Connect: The Bluegrass State Blends Technology and Service Learning by Suzie Boss.

Students have taken pictures from Wheelwright, Kentucky (a former coal-mining town that has basically become a ghost town) and perserved the history by restoring these photos. They've even published a coffee table book and DVD.

This is one example of how students in the state of Kentucky are honing their 21st century skills. The statewide Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP) mixes community service with technology in hopes of empowering students with technology. The article goes on to highlight additional student-led projects as well as giving information on how the projects have inspired teachers and community memebers alike.

This article is definiely worth a read...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Core Subjects and 21st Century Themes

Many (notice I said many - not all) teachers have a fear/belief that technology could quite possible make their job obsolete. Could this happen? Doubtful! I am here to say, though, that if educators don't get on board with the changing face of education, they may become obsolete. They will not, though, be replaced by technology, but by educators who get on board with bring education into the 21st Century.

Teachers need to change from being the giver of knowledge (because with the Internet, knowledge about anything can be found), but the facilitator of learning. I've mentioned this in previous posts; however, today's topic of the importance of the Core Subjects and 21st Century Themes brings this point home.

Learning to read, write, and understand math, science, and history is still at the very heart of our students' education needs; however, the way our students learn these things is changing...and changing at a very rapid pace. Teachers are still a very important key in this learning process, but it is very necessary to help facilitate the learning as opposed to giving the knowledge and just expecting them to learn. That doesn't cut it anymore!

The additional component to this area of 21st century skills framework are the 21st Century Themes. According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills:

...schools must move beyond a focus on basic competency in core subjects to promoting understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes into core subjects.

Those 21st century interdisciplinary themes include:

These items may be taught in our school systems of today; however, as is pointed out in the quote from Partnership for 21st Century Skills they believe these themes should be woven into the core subjects. That means that the core subjects are taught using projects and ideas that promote the interdisciplinary themes.

For most, that is a shift from what is currently happening in the classroom. No longer is lecture followed by paper/pencil test enough. Really - it should never have been enough, but that has been the method adopted by most educators for many years now. No longer can a teacher sit back and watch the students learn. The teacher should be an active participant in guiding the students' learning - the keyword there being active. Giving a worksheet to the students while reading the newspaper at your desk will no longer cut it. That is a rather extreme example. Do I believe this is happening in most classrooms? No, but I know it does happen to some degree. There are still teachers who think that the most effective way to teach is to hand them a worksheet where they have to do 20/30 (or more in some cases) problems practicing the same concept. It doesn't work! Do you go home and do a worksheet to learn to bake a cake? NO! Why would we think our students learn this way?

Yes - I am quite passionate about this. Engaging our students in their learning is so important and the change needs to happen now. We can no longer sit back and see if this will work. It works! Engage your students. We'll all be better for it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

21st Century Skills Framework

I have not been able to post to this blog as often as I intend and would like, but I am not giving up. I hope this information, though few and far between, will still help a teacher on their journey to move their teaching into the 21st Century. Today's topic is the 2nd installment in a series of postings about what 21st Century Skills look like for our students. If you have not read the 1st Installment, What are 21st Century Skills, I recommend you take a look. This post will focus on the Framework that the Partnership for 21st Century Skills created.

For a visual representation of the Framework, you can visit the Partnership for 21st Century Skills page dedicated to the Framework.

They have broken down the skills into 4 Basic Categories. Here I will outline what those categories are, but will be going into further detail in subsequent blog postings.

It may seem at this point that I am just outlining information you can find on Partnership for 21st Century Skill's website (which is true), but my goal is, once there is a good foundation of understanding, to go into further detail about how instruction needs to change because of these skills.

Take the time to really understand 21st century skills/themes - our students will be glad you did.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What are 21st Century Skills?

I felt it important, if this blog is to be used to move teachers toward 21st century teaching, that I write to the idea of 21st century skills. What does this mean? What skills does this include? What can I do to ensure I am teaching these skills?

I plan to address some of these questions in the next few blogs. I know everyone is gearing back up for school (if you haven't already started) so I hope you will begin thinking about 21st century skills when writing lesson plans and teaching your students. Addressing these skills needs to be a natural part of your teaching.

The best place to start for information on the 21st century skills (or literacy) is with the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Their mission statement:

Serve as a catalyst to position 21st century skills at the center of US K-12 education by building collaborative partnerships among education, business, community and government leaders

Their members include many businesses and education entities. There are actually nine states (unfortunatley, Texas - where I am from - is not one of them) that have become involved and made it a state-wide initiative. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has great resources and publications that you may find useful in professional development as well as using at your school to further the idea of 21st Century Skills and being a 21st Century Teacher.

My next post will include information about the framework and exactly what the 21st Century Skills include.

Good luck with the beginning of school and remember...our kids deserve an education that will prepare them for their future!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuesday Afternoon - NECC

While I leave things like this very encouraged, quite typically I am very overwhelmed and walk away feeling like I'm fighting an uphill battle I will never win. I'm at that point today. I have attended some wonderful and very informative sessions, but it makes me realize how far we have to go in the Panhandle. I get up and fight another day, but it sure makes me tired! :)

The Adobe breakfast this morning was yummy, but not only that they had three speakers (national-state-local) that spoke about the need for technology in the classrooms. Tim Magner, who is with the Office of Educational Technology under the U.S. Department of Education, was the national speaker and spoke to the idea that our kids are 21st century learners. Nothing I didn't already know; however, it was good to hear someone on the national level say it. He did give us a great resource (some of you may already be aware of it's exhistence): This is a eToolkit that will help districts develop a common education vision and explore how that vision can be supported with technology.

The second speaker (and I can't remember her name...I apologize) is from Florida and is with their state department. She discussed the way that Florida is encouraging the integration of technology.

The final speaker was a teacher, also from Florida (and I can't remember her name - again, I'm sorry!), and she walked us through some amazing things she's done with her kids and technology. It was a great way to start my morning.

We didn't get done at the Adobe breakfast until about 9:30 or so and we decided to head into the exhibts. Oh - so many! :) Prior to heading into the exhibit hall, we stopped by ISTE central and bought some books. When will I have time to read? They're going to be great books when I get around to reading them.

I was hoping to make it into the Marzano and Web 2.0: Ed Tech That Works with Stephanie Sandifer. I even brought my book! Unfortunately, I was too late and didn't make it into the session. I think it ended up being a good thing, though, because I was able to go into another session: Developing 21st-Century Skills in School and District Leaders. It was how a school implemented a 1-1 with an emphasis on how they trained the leaders in the school. If we're awarded the Technology Immersion grant, this information will be invaluable. It also made me realize how behind we are. Will we ever catch up?

The second session I attended was supposed to be Second Life Virtual Caper: The Case of the Cyper Footprint, but it ended up being a session on what the 21st century student looked like. It didn't have anything to do with Second Life. That's okay, though. It was an amazing experience none-the-less. Peter Reynolds - renowned auther and illustrator - along with Eric Close (yep...that's right - of Without a Trace fame) used the audience to come up with a picture of what a 21st century student looks like. Eric Close asked questions and the audience would answer them. As we answered, Peter Reynolds drew the character. The amazing thing is that Peter asked to be sent additional information and he would continue to develop the character and would eventually animate the character and would share it with the world. How awesome is that!?! :) It was sponsered by Thinkfinity which is an amazing (free) resource that teachers can use. You don't even have to have a username/password. The resources are just there for educators to use to the benefit of kids. HOW AWESOME! The picture that was created at that point is available and I'll post the animated version when it's available.

After I left that session, I went over to the poster sessions to find my co-workers and ran into some people I know from Austin. I had gone done with some teachers from the Panhandle to view what iPods in the ESL classroom looked like. They're doing amazing things with their kids! It was nice to see them again.

Then I went back to the room for a some rest and I checked my e-mail and started this blog. Okay...time for confession's Wednesday morning and I'm finishing up this post. My brain was too tired and I was too tired to're getting my Tuesday recap...on Wednesday. :)

Blackboard had a meeting last night to show their new interface that will be released during this next year. I want it now! It's amazing and appears to be so much easier to use - especially on the class creator side. I'll be excited when this comes out.

Last night was an evening of events. I first attended the Discovery Education get-to-gether. It was fun and I met my contact. It was just very loud, but a good experience. And...I won! It was a Discovery Education fleece pullover. After that I went to the TCEA get-to-gether. It was fun, but at that point I was so tired from my early start to the day that I just sat there and stared. We left early.

Back to the room...and off to bed.

Very Early Tuesday Morning - NECC

It's very early in the morning and I am not a morning person. On top of that, I stayed up late working on an online professional development that I am taking. I didn't get much sleep, but that's what conferences like this tend to do. You stay up late to have fun and wake up early to continue the fun.

Some cool things that happen here that have never happened at a conference before (and I've been to several):

There is a daily paper that is printed, published, and left out for anyone who wants one
The Daily Leader (the daily paper I mentioned above) is delievered to our hotel room door (we think this is because we're staying a room with the TCEA block because one of my co-workers is on the TCEA board)
Blogger's Central

My session yesterday wasn't all that great. Interestingly enough - she did exactly what David Jakes spoke about yesterday. Bullet points. I could have printed off her presentation, read the information, and understood everything it took her an hour to share. What can I expect, though. Two out of my three sessions I attended yesterday were wonderful. Those odds aren't bad!

I'm looking forward to today. We're going to breakfast with Adobe this morning and then I've got several sessions to attend today. I'm not going to lug my computer around, though. The hotel is close enough that I can come back if I need to use it...

Another exciting day of NECC...

Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Afternoon - NECC

I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment, but more than that, I'm frustrated because I can't seem to get a wireless connection in any sessions I've attended except at the very beginning and very end. It could be there are many people trying to access the wireless (this is a technology conference anyways), it could be my computer (it's been giving me's time for a new computer), or a combination of both. Needless to say, I have now walked back across the street to my hotel room and plugged into the wall (because this hotel does not have wireless...hmm...).

I decided that I was not going to carry my computer around when I really should be typing as little as possible (see previous post about hand) and I can't even get onto the internet anyways. I am going to drop off my computer (lighten my load), post a blog, and head back over to the convention center.

If I had to sum up, in one word, my first two session this morning... Humbling.
I chose this word not because they were such amazing presentations (and they were!) and not because it was information I had not heard before (though I always learn something new), but because of the overwhelming feeling I have to be better at what I do to impact our 21st century kids. Sometimes I feel like I'm spinning my wheels and talking to a brick wall, but I come here and realize it's all worth it. I feel like a small insect in a big forest, but then, as David Warlick pointed out, we all have the capability to publish information. In my book (figuratively speaking, of course) - that is one way I can make a difference. It's very humbling to think that I can post this information and people from all over the world can read this information or I can stand up in front of teachers sharing a learning experience with them and, hopefully, use the information to their benefit and the benefit of our kids (why most of us do what we do).

Okay...enough of that. :)

David Jakes - One Hour PowerPoint: A Strategy for Improving Presentations

I realize that this presentation was intended for teachers to use to help their students become better at presenting; however, since that's my job, I was able to find wonderful strategies to make me better at my job. We were introduced to 10 practical ways to improve presentations. You can find
information for this training on his wiki.

David Warlick - Our Students-Our World

David spoke to the idea that our students do not learn like most of us were taught (and learned), therefore we need to change the way we teach to reach our kids. Our world is flat and, it's that way whether we like it or not! :) We've heard it before, but I suspect it'll keep being said until we all hear it "We're teaching 21st century students in 19th century classrooms". Think about that... That goes right along with the theme for my blog... You can find
more information for this training on his blog.

I suspect I will continue to find wonderful sessions. Check back later for more NECC 2008 goodies I've found!

Monday Morning - NECC

I'm here! OMG! So much stuff...and I'm loving it. :)

My co-worker and I arrived on a plane from Amarillo, TX yesterday about 5:00. Unfortunatley we missed the opening keynote, but we did make it to Rhonda Curtsinger's poster session. Rhonda Curtsinger is a teacher in one of our Region 16 distrists - Hereford ISD - that does amazaing things with her students. She will be presenting what she did with her kids on Tuesday, July 1st. Come! See!

We literally rolled off the plane, got our luggage, found a taxi, dropped our stuff in our room, and headed over. We're very excited to be staying in the Marriott Riverwalk - right across the street from the Conference Center. That doesn't happen very often.

I'm actually sitting in the blogger's cafe right now - just saw David Jakes. I am planning on attending his session at 11:00; however, I might need to head that direction NOW to get a seat. With over 18, 000 people in attendance, will I get a seat in any session at all?

My co-workers and I went to Starbucks this morning before heading over to the conference center. Have to have that coffee so I can wake up. Is that sad? I will say, though, that we have been asked at least 5 times (and counting) where the Starbucks is located. Most say it's too far (there is one in the food court of the RiverCenter mall), but it's an interesting "experiment" none-the-less.

A sidenote here - this past Thursday night (the 26th) I was typing - working on homework - and felt something "pop" in my right hand (and, of course, I'm right-handed). Very painful. I went to the doctor on Friday and was told I have a cyst on either a tendon or a muscle that is pushing against a nerve. Too much typing. He said coming to the conference would probably help because I wouldn't be typing as much. Little did he know... :) Anyways - I go to the hand surgeon on July 7th. I am currently wearing a wrist brace for support and am trying to be as careful as possible. I have to type, though. I must journal my first NECC experience! :)

More to come tonight after the sessions...

Friday, June 13, 2008

The End Result

Over the past week I have been thinking about my next blog posting. I started work on my next class for my Master's Degree and have been moved to talk about things I've been learning. I do plan on posting information, but at a later date.

I am also currently involved in two different online learning opportunities. One is an online class that I am taking as part of professional development for my job. It is the Web Instructor's Certification Course I (WICC I) offered through Region 4 ESC. Region 16 ESC is a partner of the Texas Virtual School (TVS) - which is not to be confused with the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN) - and one of the requirements to teach for TVS is to take WICC I. To be able to teach it to teachers that are interested from Region 16, I first have to take the course myself. We started this week and I have already learned a lot and have ideas about topics to post in my blog.

The second online opportunity I am involved in is an online book club. This will also help me professionally so I do consider it a professional development opportunity; however, I am doing this more on the personal level as well. It is the 1st Annual CASTLE book club and we are reading Influencer - The Power to Change Anything by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. I've almost finished reading through chapter 2 and, again, have already learned so much. Thankfully we have a discussion board that will give me an outlet to talk about the book; however, I do plan on posting some of the things I am learning through the reading of this book.

As I have thought about what I would post this week, I thought about why I was doing all of this learning and all of this professional development. Why do educators, those that want to be facilitators of learning, continue to learn? Most enjoy learning, but I still don't believe that to be the main reason. I think it is "The End Result". Our goal as facilitators of learning (and even parents) is to release the students into the real-world as successful and, dare I say, happy individuals. As educators we must think about what we want the end result to be when it comes to our students. Do we care if they can resite word for word the Preamble of the Constitution or do we care that they understand the meaning of the Preamble of the Constitution and know where to access the information?

What does all of this have to do with 21st century teaching? Traditionally the Preamble of the Constitution was "memorized" because that is how we "learned" and how we were able to access that information. Often times, we were taught the meaning by listening to a lecture from our teacher. We didn't have the information at our fingertips or even as much access to interactive tools like we do now. There were other places to find the information, but often times that required that you had money to purchase something or a way to get to the library. There were those dynamic teachers that brought history to life and made you really live the experience, but for the most part, teaching was done through lecture. Living in the 21st century and being that 21st century teacher means we show them how to access the Preamble of the Constitution and dive into the meaning through meaningful and purposful interactive experiences. How cool if you could arrange to have a videoconference with one of your state senators.

When you're a teacher - whether Kindergarten or 12th grade - your focus should always be "The End Result." The question then becomes: How can I help this student be a successful, productive, and responsible citizen?

I do plan to blog on all of this learning I'm doing, but I thought it important to talk about and remember why we're all here and why we do what we do.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ready to Face The World...

I have been gone on vacation. I was out all last week. I didn't go anywhere. My husband still had to go to work; however, I used the time to rest...and get my house cleaned. I needed that break. Going to school (working on my Master's Degree in Instructional Technology) and working full time...a combination for being tired. :) I know many of you have experienced and/or are experiencing that right now. Shout out to all of you! Weeks like last week make it possible to continue. I'm taking a class both summer sessions so...back to reality! :)

I have been back at work since Monday; however, as most know, it took me a few days to catch up on e-mails and take care of the "fires" that were blazing. I spent most of yesterday preparing for a class my co-worker and I are starting next week. I am so thrilled! We are trying something new. It's called "Web 2.0 Boot Camp". The idea (piggybacking off some of the things that were discussed in my last post - in the comment sections) is to have a face-to-face day where they learn about different Web 2.0 tools. There will then be 2 follow up courses online. One happening this summer where they will choose at least 2 tools and use them on a personal level. During this follow up course there will be discussion and assistance from myself and my co-worker as needed. The second follow up will occur during the beginning of school where they will take the tools they used and learn to use them in their classrooms. They will take things they are already doing and, by the time the class is over, will have created a lesson plan (or plans) that uses the technology to enhance their lessons. The "boot camp" will conclude with a virtual showcase of projects towards the end of the semester. We are very excited about the training. If you live in Region 16 in Texas - registration ends Friday (tomorrow)! There's still room so come join us!!

I must give shout outs to Scott McLeod and Coach. The first two people to ever comment on my blog. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to see comments - and such excellent comments at that! I highly recommend you read their comments and add your own ideas and answers. There was a time when my blog fizzled because I thought no-one really ever came and read, but then, with the addition of the Live Traffic Feed, I realized that wasn't the case. That motivated me to continue to write and I hope my thoughts, at the very least, spark thoughts of your own. One of the things that motivates me in my job is reading the blogs I subscribe to every day (including Scott McLeod's). It helps me to stay current and, most of all, be motivated to do it another day! For those of you out there reading my blog (and hopefully other's as well), thank you and I hope I can give you some encouragement to "do it another day!" :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Reshaping High Schools - Is That Really Possible?

I got to work this morning, started my laptop and sat down to read the newest issue of Educational Leadership (May 2008; Vol. 65, No. 8) from ASCD. The entire issue is on reshaping high schools. I'll be honest with you - I read the articles and a real passion for change was ignited.

Then I began to read new blog postings and came across a posting from Dr. Scott McLeod of Dangerously Irrelevant, So What if Schools Don't Prepare Students for the 21st Century?, who had also received and read the same issue. Scott helped to bring me back down to reality - which is not a bad thing.

Scott helped me to realize that everything that is said in this issue has been said before - many times before. He has several references in his blog (which I highly recommend you read...) to past "nay-sayers" of education and the direction education has gone/is going. It really helped me to understand that, and I feel especially in education, we like to do a lot of talking and not a lot of doing.

Please understand I am not saying this to encourage educators to throw up their hands in frustration and become educator hermits. I am saying this to encourage action. Understanding theory and having those conversations is very important, but words without actions are just words.

How will this time - maybe - be different? It will be if the teachers make a stand. This change has to be one teacher at a time and those teachers have to be 21st century teachers. These teachers understand that learning is student-centered and not teacher-centered. These teachers understand that it's not what we teach (always), but how it's being taught. There is a need, at times, for curricula at the basic level to change, but there are fundamental things that will always need to be taught. 2+2 will always be 4 and you will always spell the word cat, C-A-T.

Again - I am not implying that curriculum is infallible, but more often than not I feel it's the instruction part that can use the most change. Making the move in the classroom from "it's all about me (the teacher)" to "it's all about them (the students)".

Be the change! Make the difference!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thoughts for the last days of school

Wesley Fryer is a well respected advocate of technology usage in education, which I believe is a key component of being a 21st century teacher. If you do not subscribe to his blog, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, I highly recommend adding this to your "must-read" blog list.

Wesley's blog post last night truly hit the nail on the head when it comes to teachers attitude of the last few days of school and, if I'm being honest, I was one of those. I, just like the kids, was always ready to be done with the year and would do my best to keep the kids occupied while I finished getting my room ready to close up for the summer. It's not a pretty picture, but it's the truth.

I hope, as I have grown as a person and an educator, that, if I choose to get back into the classroom, I will not be that teacher anymore. In many other ways I was a 21st century teacher, but the last week of school - not so much.

Wesley was quick to point out what his ideas are NOT advocating (no rules, etc.), but made excellent points about how schools can foster a student-center environment. One of his examples is the way that Accelerated Reader is intended to be used and the way some schools actually use it - even to the point of punishment. The schools, of course, do not view it as punishment, but, as I think we can all agree, because the students aren't allowed to go to recess, the students view it as punishment. They are not allowed to do something they enjoy. Rather they are forced to do something they may not be good at - in the eyes of students...punishment. How many times do we force education down the throats of students instead of truly teaching them to love learning. Definitely one of the major roles of a 21st century teacher is instilling a love of learning. Often times this may mean finding the one thing the student enjoys and teaching them how to teach themselves using that one thing.

He also wrote to something I discussed in a previous blog about 21st century teaching is often a fundamental change in schools and the way people think.

"As I continue my work as a 21st century educator, I grow increasingly convinced that the fundamentally coercive nature of our public education system in the United States must change in basic ways. We, as a society, have grown accustomed to an educational system which is compulsory and therefore fundamentally coercive in its nature. This coercive side of education becomes most clearly unmasked in May, as we draw closer to the end of school. Students sitting in class a week from the end of school may understandably ask, “Why are we here?”"
Do you want to coerce learning or be a facilitator of learning? Personally, I choose facilitator.

By the way - I have recently joined Twitter. I'm JennAFuzz and Wesley Fryer is wfryer.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Curriculum and Instruction

Infusing the teaching of 21st century skills into curriculum and instruction is imperative and often times can be done by using technology to enhance the curriculum and instruction that is already in place.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has set up a resource area entitled Route 21, "a one-stop shop for 21st century skills-related information, resources, and community tools." You can go here for many, many resources posted by teachers and other professionals. The exciting thing is you can join the community and post your own resources about 21st century skills.

Curriculum is the what of teaching. It becomes important at that point, when creating the curriculum, to have a grasp of 21st century skills. Instruction is the how of teaching. Understanding the 21st century skills in instruction becomes using knowledge to infuse 21st century skills into teaching. Route 21 describes in Curriculum and Instruction ways to meets the needs of the 21st century learner to achieve student outcomes described in its Framework:
  • "to adopt a 21st century curriculum that blends thinking and innovation skills; information, media, and ICT literacy; and life and career skills in context of core academic subjects and across interdisciplinary themes, and
  • to employ methods of 21st century instruction that integrate innovative and research-proven teaching strategies, modern learning technologies, and real world resources and contexts."
It is important as educators that we infuse our current curriculum and instruction practices with the use and teaching of 21st century skills to prepare our students for their futures.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

21st Century Skills

There is a lot of discussion happening in the instructional technology world and education in general about 21st century skills for students. In fact - this blog is about teaching in the 21st century. Those that say "This is how I learned and look how I turned out" don't realize the damage they are doing to our kids. That attitude will not prepare our students for the world that will live in when they are grown.

The article 21st Century Skills from Campus Technology gives this example "Recently, a new hire at a friend's company was assigned the task to review, analyze, and write a report about several organizations the company was interested in working with. Andrea Brands, AT&T's director of public affairs, describes the result: "My friend received a poor narrative, just a long summary, and it wasn't comprehensive." The employee didn't use any initiative, didn't go beyond the superficial. The employee was unprepared for the job."

Most teachers will agree that would want their students to be prepared for the future. Isn't that why we do this?

The solution: become a 21st Century Teacher. That means the words "that's technology and I've been fine without it so far" or "I don't have the time or resources", etc., can no longer be a part of your vocabulary. It should become unacceptable for classroom teachers to dig their heals in and not learn what will help our kids be successful. It can be such a fearful thing for some people and THAT'S OKAY! What is not okay - fear that drives teachers into denial about the importance of moving their teaching into the 21st century. It will not be easy. It may not even be plesant in some cases; however, that does not diminish it's importance.

What exactly does a 21st Century Teacher look like? Someone whose teaching focuses on student and not on the teacher. Anthony Chivetta, a frequent writer on the Students 2.0 blog, makes this point in his blog 21st Century Education: Thinking Creatively "Twenty-first century education won’t be defined by any new technology. It won’t be defined by 1:1 laptop programs or tech-intensive projects. Twenty-first century education will, however, be defined by a fundamental shift in what we are teaching—a shift towards learner-centered education and creating creative thinkers. Today’s world is no longer content with students who can simply apply the knowledge they learned in school: our generation will be asked to think and operate in ways that traditional education has not, and can not, prepare us for." Here is what strikes me about this statement - it is made from a student. Again I say - aren't they the reason we're here!

Because my focus is on instructional technology, my job focuses on helping teachers move towards 21st Century Teaching by using many of the technology tools available; however, it is not enough to use the technologies - it is in how they are used. The paradigm has to shift in teaching or nothing that is changed will work. Help the students understand how to learn and research and find the answers themselves, don't just give them the information. What's the fun in that? :) Foster that curiosity that people are born with naturally. It's okay to say "I don't know". Most kids these days don't expect adults to "know everything" simply because they understand the true expanse of knowledge and information.

If you are a teacher that has begun the process of becoming (or have become) a 21st Century Teacher (I do realize it doesn't happen overnight...and I don't expect it too!), I applaud you. If you want to move towards 21st Century Teaching, I challenge you to find someone in the first category because, as educators, we love to share! If you fall under the category of "don't think so - that is not for me" than I challenge you to think of your most successful student and think about where you would like him/her to be in 10-20 years. Will that attitude help them get there?


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Google for Educators

A website from Google for educators including tools, lessons, and connecting teachers to create a community of teachers. Definitely worth checking it out!!

I would love to hear how you may already be (or might think about) using some of these tools and ideas in your classroom. :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Must-Read Blog Post

This is a blog post about students taking the use of technology into their own hands! I highly recommend reading....

What do you think? I love his term "stutechie"! :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Online Teacher Network

Not that - at this moment in time - I have many, if any, readers; however, I feel like the only way I will get this blog up and running and truly become a service I provide, I need to post on a regular basis. I have not done that. I have truly been very busy since we returned from break; however that is no excuse because everyone is busy. I apologize and hope to get into the habit of posting as often as possible! I need to keep reminding myself that a post doesn't have to be a book...I'm really about writing a book. lol

I found an article that I feel is really worth a read. This article discusses a network that Microsoft has in place to connect technology teachers. Some of you may already know about this, and may even be a part of the network, but if you're not, this is a must read for you! In the very first paragraph it says "Teachers across the United States will have an opportunity to communicate and collaborate with top-notch educators from all over the world through Microsoft Corp.'s Innovative Teachers Network (ITN), a new online forum that promotes the exchange of ideas and methods on how best to incorporate technology into the classroom effectively." The italics are my editing for emphasis.

The best tool a teacher has is another educator. When you can exchange ideas with another educator this creates a place to grow. The ITN is a place that will foster that very thing.;_hbguid=1fc9f28d-e682-4ad7-b1b9-69b274c94ce4&d=top-news
This is written by Laura Devaney, Associate Editor, eSchool News

Click here to link to the Microsoft page that tells you all about the network.

Click here to link to the ITN homepage. This is also where you can set-up your free account! There are forums on Internet Safety, Teaching Music in the 21st centery (a particular favorite as a music teacher in my former life), and Technology in Education just to name a few.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Classroom 2.0

I came across a social site today that I wanted to share with everyone! Many of you may already know about this exciting tool (look me up and add me as a friend if you're a member!), but for those that don't know about Classroom 2.0, this is a site you definitely need to visit. The web address is simple ( and membership is free.

I would describe this website as a "myspace" for teachers who want to share technology ideas and participate in disucssions. The possibilities are much more than on "myspace", though, because of the forums you are able to participate in as well as the possibility to create, through the Ning Network (through which Classroom 2.0 was started by Steve Haragdon), your own social website for your class, a particular project, or group. Another tool that Classroom 2.0 provides is a place to blog. If you've been wanting to dabble in starting your own blog as a place for information outside your classroom, this would be a good place to get started.

You can upload videos, music, photos, join different groups that are already in progress, and join in discussions that are already taking place. All-in-all, if your'e looking for a website that connects you with other teachers, but are new and a little afraid of getting involved with some of the more advanced tools that are available, Classroom 2.0 is a great place to get your feet wet. I promise, once you get started, you won't want to stop! Visit Classroom 2.0 today!!