Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eight Habits of Highly Effective 21st Century Teachers

With this blog posts come a great article as well as some news concerning my career.

First of all the great article! When I was at Region 16 ESC one of the trainings we offered was a Web 2.0 Boot Camp. I have written about the details of this training in the past, but I bring it up now because we ran a 2009 version as well. One of the participants of that course shared some great bookmarks with me on delicious and one of them was right up the alley of this blog.

Eight Habits of Highly Effective 21st Century Teachers is a great article written by Andrew Churches who is in charge of Information Technology at Kristin School in Auckland. He believes that teachers who strive to be considered a "21st Century Teacher" exhibt the following eight qualities:

  1. Adapting
  2. Being Visionary
  3. Collaborating
  4. Taking Risks
  5. Learning
  6. Communicating
  7. Modelling Behavior
  8. Leading

As I reflect on these 8 qualities, I realize that these are qualities we also want to encourage in our students to be successful in the 21st century. My question is, then, does this mean that to be able to successfully prepare our students for life after school, we must also be willing ourselves to step outside the box of traditional teaching? I will even go as far as to say the task is near impossible to prepare students for the 21st century life for the strickly traditional teacher.

As I've mentioned before, I am not saying that things "we've always done" should go out the window, but I encourage and challenge today's teachers to take a long hard look at what you do in your classroom and ask yourself:

How is this relevant to learning?
is the purpose of this task?

If the answers to those questions do not reflect a 21st century type of learning, then maybe it's time to retire that lesson. With the way things change so quickly, it is no longer "okay" to create your lessons once never to have a look at them again.

Do you have any other questions teachers should consider when evaluating their lessons according to 21st century learning and education?

Now for the news! I have left my job at Region 16 Education Service Center. There were many reasons behind my decision to leave - some of them personal - but one of the main reasons is because I would like to focus more on instructional technology and the job, for various reasons, was turning into a grant management position. While grants are necessary and very helpful, I found that I was not able to focus as much on getting technology into the hands of teachers and changing classrooms. After much discussion with my husband, I felt this was the best move for me - both personally and professionally.

I do have plans to stay heavily involved in the Instructional Technology world, though "the plan" is 100% ready to go so I shall refrain from discussing that until it's all ready to go. I have also been blessed with the opportunity to teach some online professional development classes for Texas Virtual School. This has helped keep me busy during the day (though I've been plenty busy trying to get my house in shape after moving into our new house in March), plus provide some extra spending money.

Stay tuned for further developments and hopefully you'll see more and more posts with some great information!

Go forth and be a great 21st Century Educator!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wes Fryer's Landscape of 21st Century Learning

Wesley Fryer, a leader in educational technology and someone that is in my Personal Learning Network, recently spoke at a conference in New Zealand. He posted his presentation on slideshare. I highly encourage you to watch/listen to his presentation. It is an hour long and definitely gives you something to think about.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why 21st Century Skills are Important

Dr. Scott McLeod, someone that I follow on Twitter, read his blog posts, and learn from, has recently posted the first in a series about 5 key levers he feels like will move schools forward. He is specifically speaking about schools in Iowa because that is where he lives and works; however, I feel as thought the same applies for schools everywhere.

The very first lever he wrote about is 21st century curricula. As a society we will be unable to move education forward without understanding what it means to give our students a 21st century education. This blogs has focused on defining 21st century skills and even given my readers some practical 21st century tools; however, Dr. McLeod's blog post, Iowa - 21st century curricula, does a wonderful job of answering the why. He states:

Why are these skills so important? Because the rise of digital information
and communication technologies such as e-mail, instant messaging,
videoconferencing, and the Internet have virtually eliminated the workplace
barriers of geography and time. It is now about as easy to work with people
halfway across the globe as it is with folks halfway across town. As a result,
information, money, and ideas criss-cross the globe at dizzying speeds and
work moves to the location of lowest cost or greatest expertise. This puts an
extraordinary amount of pressure on the Western wage premium: why pay an
American worker such a high salary when someone in another country will do the
same work for less?

Basically we are doing a disservice to our students if we are not preparing them for the workforce they will join. The best thing we can do for our economy is teach our children to be competitive.

I would highly encourage you to read the rest that post. He's got some wonderful statistical graphics and goes on to answer the "how." I also encourage you to subscribe to his blog, Dangerously Irrelevant. Make him a part of your PLN (personal learning network).

Are you preparing your students to be competitive in the 21st century workforce? If the answer is no, you need to take a step back and reassess.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Microsoft's Career Resource for Students

Microsoft has created a FREE (love that word!) online course that aims to prepare youth for 21st century job. How cool is that!

This course, called Career Forward, is all online and is organized into four modules. The course can be given in a classroom type setting or the students can complete individually and the project aims to get students thinking about what they want to do with their lives. It also gets them thinking about their career path and the skills they need to have to succeed.

I will be honest, I haven't take the course, but on first glance, this looks to be like a great resource for student's to realize what job field they may want to look into and what skills they need for that job field. The course is free and available to any U.S. student.

Anyone who may have used the product, I encourage you to leave comments about the quailty of the course.

Friday, January 16, 2009

21st Century Skills - Learning and Innovation Skills

It has been said, by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and several other people, that learning and innovation skills are the skill sets that will set students who are prepared for this ever changing world and work force and those who are not.

Because teachers of today are preparing students of tomorrow for jobs that don't yet exist, knowing how to learn is a must for our kiddos. Not only that, but they have to be innovative and creative problem solvers. They must know how to look at a problem and find a solution for it - either something they create or know how to find the answer.

We will not be there to help them. Their parents will not always be there to help them. Their bosses will not have the time to help, but will expect results. If we don't teach our kids how to learn and solve problems, we will be doing them a disservice.

Additionally, our students will need to know how to work together to solve these problems. No more is is the loner sitting at the desk who has the bright idea, but the group as a whole that brainstorms and comes up with the best solution. And by the way, the group might include many different people from many different backgrounds, countries, and experiences. Our kids must know how to work with other people who, more often than not, are different than they are.

Please visit the Partnership for 21st Century's Learning and Innovation Skills for more information. I would want my kids to be set apart in the work force - do you?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Blogging as a Tool for 21st Century Learning

Great article! I highly encourage you to read this article and reflect on the possibilities for doing something like this in your classroom. Not sure who you could collaborate with? Get out there and start "talking" to people or even start a blog yourself and put the request out there. You might be surprised to find someone else who would be willing to join you!

Blogging in Place: Writing That Explores New Neighborhoods
Edutopia 1.7.09
Written by Momo Chang
This article doesn't mention math or science, but there are many ways to use blogging with those core subjects as well. One idea is to have the students journal about the different climates of their area. Someone who has always lived in Houston, Texas may not fully understand what it's like to live where it's very cold. You could also have your students journal measurements of different buildings and compare (ex. Supermarkets) with the other class. You could even go as far as to have your students make a virtual replica of the buildings so the other class could "visit." There are so many possibilities...what are some ideas that you have? Please share with us - that's how we learn!