Archive for July, 2009

Did You Know?

Posted on July 27, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Jeff McCoy

One of the most compelling videos I have watched that emphasizes the importance of integrating technology into the classroom is the “Did You Know 2.0” video. This video was originally created by a school to start a discussion about 21st Century Skills and technology integration. Not long after the release of the video, educators all over the world began to watch the video and create different versions of it.

Unfortunately, there are still places I visit today at home and around the country that have never heard of 21st Century Learning skills. The busy lives educator’s lead often get in the way of staying on top of the latest methodology and technology in the classroom. However, the 21st Century Skills are a vital part of the educational environment and vital for students to become a 21st Century Learning. Although technology is a major part of 21st Century Learning, the focus is on a change of methodology and the way we teach. Technology of course can facilitate this process and at times make it much easier to do, but technology is not the focus. As always, the curriculum, teaching and learning is the focus. Certainly a classroom heavily engaged in 21st Century Learning will contain heavy use of technology to facilitate that process, but lets not confuse the fact that curriculum is the focus and the technology is a tool used to get to the meat of the curriculum as well as a way to engage students in the learning process.

Are there skills required today that were not required ten years ago? Of course! Think of all the new technology. Someone has to create, maintain, and improve upon the new technologies today if we are going to continue to lead the world in medical, technological, and scientific advancement. The video mentions the fact that today’s educators are preparing students for jobs that aren’t even available yet, for majors that haven’t been put in place yet, and for technologies that haven’t been invented yet. How do you prepare students for something that hasn’t yet been invented? By teaching the technology skills necessary to perform today’s jobs and functions. It is hard to look into the future, but learning the skills necessary to succeed in a technological world today, will help students prepare for the skills needed in the future—the skills we don’t even know we need yet! How many of us had to learn the skills to research on the internet in college? Yet today, the internet is a vital part of our lives and without those learned skills, many aspects of our lives would be much more difficult.

Information and technology is changing at such a rapid pace that it’s almost impossible to keep up. It is important that we as educators do not assume that the students will get the skills necessary somewhere else. Each teacher is responsible for teaching the skills appropriate for the grade level.

Of course, in order to produce 21st Century Learners, you must be a 21st Century Teacher. Where do you fall as a classroom teacher? Traditional or 21 Century? Take a moment to look at the chart below. Find the words or phrases that describe you most in each of the columns.

Traditional Classroom 21st Century Classroom
–Teacher Centered –Student Centered
–Slowly from Single Source –Quickly from Multiple Sources
–Single Task –Multi-tasking
–Single Media –Processes Multimedia before text
–Provides Information linearly, logically, and sequentially –Use random access to hyperlinked   multimedia information
–Students work Independently –interacts/collaborates with many others
–Teaches “Just in Case” –“Just in Time” learning
–Teaches to Standardized Tests –Real-life, Project Based Learning

 

Now that you have had a chance to reflect on the way you teach, lets’ see how you did. If more words on the left column described you, then your teaching methods follow a more traditional approach. More words on the right means that you lean more towards 21st Century Teaching strategies.

All of us will have roots in traditional teaching and in some cases, you may be in the middle. We will never be free completely from traditional teaching because we still give traditional tests including national testing. There are still some great practices that happen in traditional teaching, but all practices need to be evaluated over time to ensure relevance. The important thing is to know where you are! Knowing means you can begin taking action to move more towards the 21st Century Classroom and away from the Traditional Classroom. If you are new to 21st Century Teaching, don’t fret! Pick one or two items that you want to work on…say collaboration. Focus on one rather than all of them. If you have more words on the left column that describe you, begin the transition slowly to the 21st Century Learning side so as not to become overwhelmed. No one moves from being a traditional teacher to a 21st Century Teacher in one year. It’s a practice that takes time. Master one thing, then move to another. Many areas overlap and some things you will find you are already doing.

The benefits of course are many. For educators, a move from traditional to 21st Century often renews their passion for teaching. It’s a new way of teaching for you and best of all, your students will be more engaged. For students, the 21st Century Learning environment allows for collaboration, problem solving, and higher level thinking. Take a moment to watch the video linked above. Think hard about your classroom and how it looks. Is 21st Century Learning a reality in your classroom or just a buzz word you see in educational journals? Preparing students for the future requires teaching them 21st Century Skills Today!

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Do You Cha Cha?

Posted on July 7, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Who is the 28th President of the United States? Quick give me an answer, if you don’t know, get out your handheld computer (your cell phone) and text in the question, now send it to 242242 (cha cha) and within seconds you will receive a response back.  How cool is that?  Standard text messaging charges apply, so be careful.  One of our kindergarten teachers used Cha Cha as an activating strategy at the Upstate Technology Conference last week and everyone is raving about this newfound bit of technology knowledge!  My friend asked her 25 year old nephew if he“Cha Cha-ed” and he said “I am Cha Cha!”  He is a college student and gets paid to answer questions that are forwarded to him by Cha Cha. 

So if you don’t have the really cool iPhone or Blackberry with internet access, you can still impress your friends by using Cha Cha on your standard text messaging phone. 

By the way, do you have the answer yet?  It is Woodrow Wilson. 

Have fun with Cha Cha!

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