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21st Century Learning

21st century learning will be student centered. Students must develop strong critical thinking and interpersonal communication skills in order to be successful in an increasingly fluid, interconnected, and complex world. The learner will master content while producing, synthesizing, and evaluating information from a wide variety of subjects and sources with an understanding of and respect for diverse cultures. Students demonstrate digital literacy as well as civic responsibility. Virtual tools and open-source software create borderless learning territories for students of all ages, anytime and anywhere. Learning will be “learner driven” and will access information via phones and computers on the internet and chatting with friends on social networking sites. Similarly, teachers will monitor and issue assignments via virtual classrooms.

Framework for 21st Century Learning.

The Framework for 21st Century Learning consists of core subjects and themes that revolve around three core skills: life and career skills, learning and innovation skills, and information media, and technology skills. These are the skills that students need in order to be successful in the 21st century. The core subjects include: English, Reading, Language Arts, World Languages, Arts, Mathematics, Economics, Science, Geography, History, and Government and Civics. In addition to the core subjects, schools must integrate the 21st century interdisciplinary themes in the daily instructional activities. The themes consist of global awareness, financial, economic, business, entrepreneurial literacy, civil literacy, health literacy, and environmental literacy. The “pools” underneath the rainbow represents the paradigmatic “shift towards supporting 21st century learning, understanding, and skills performance” (Trilling & Fadel, 2009, p. 120). The “pools” consist of standards and assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development, and learning environment.

The learning goals include traditional core subject knowledge areas (in green), such as social studies, math, science, language, etc.; interdisciplinary and contemporary thematic expertise (also in green), such as environmental, health, financial and civic literacy; and three sets of essential skills (in gold, purple and red), applied to the learning of content knowledge:

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Currently Available Technology!

50 Powerful Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom

Skype, the free, ubiquitous VOIP downloadable, offers some unique opportunities for tech-savvy teachers to get their students learning in exciting new ways. It might prove a buggy affair depending on the version, but all the same the service still makes for a phenomenal classroom tool. Click here to find out how you can put this cool tool to work in your classroom.

It's time for change!


“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Apple Inc.

After 17 years in education, I have seen things come and go. Teaching techniques are introduced, revamped, discarded and then mysteriously will re-appear in some form or fashion down the road as the new technique that will REVOLUTIONIZE education. Ultimately, it is our job as educators, to instill a passion in our students to have a lifelong desire for learning. When we lose the desire to learn, we become stagnant. When we become stagnant, our growth becomes stunted and that is not good for anyone.

Control is something that humans have desired to have since birth. We want to “control” the situation. We want to have “control” of our surroundings. We want to “control” every aspect of our lives. We as educators want to “control” our classrooms. We feel the need to put on our “teacher hat” and make the child sit in the nice, neat row to conform to our idea of what the class should look like.

This type of environment does not promote creativity! It does not empower a life-long love of learning! What would happen if we gave up the control? What would happen if we allowed our students to take control of their own learning?

There is a funny story about a fictional character that goes to sleep in the late 1800’s. When he finally awakes it is present day. He goes through the world looking for something that is familiar and can’t seem to find it. Everything has changed. Electrical wonders abound everywhere. Doors that open by themselves. Boxes that talk to you. Everything! Finally, he stumbles into a school and sees desks neatly lined up in rows. Students are sitting quietly listening to a teacher. This is the one place that he feels “at home”.

Is this what we want our profession and our passion to reflect? How do we give up the “control” and allow students to take responsibility for their own learning? Is there only one way that students can show mastery of a concept?

There is an article on a website called “The Innovative Educator”in which a teacher allows students to “own” their own learning, by giving an assignment with very broad instructions. The following was reported by the teacher who gave the assignment.

“Using any method you choose, you are to show your isopod/beetle expertise.” That was pretty much all the direction I gave.

Looking around my lab, here is what I saw being created:

· Bitstrip comics starring themselves as scientists explaining the diversity of crustaceans.

· Online jeopardy game creations

· Using Scratch to create interactive stories

· PowerPoint and Prezi presentations

· Using Flipcams and Moviemaker to create infomercials

· Podcast radio interviews

· Glogster Posters

· Students researching sources using advanced search features for trust-worthy and relevant information

Some students worked in pairs; others chose to work alone. They assigned each other roles. One was the researcher, one the graphic designer, and one the note taker. They asked if they could research! They created their own rubrics. Their usual, “How do I do this?” questions to me were redirected and asked of themselves: “How can we find out how to do this?” It was truly an amazing experience. Their newly-discovered independence and ownership in their learning freed me up to go around and make suggestions, teach specific search strategies, work one-on-one with each student discussing their projects, and really feel the excitement and buzz of authentic learning taking place.

http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2010/12/when-students-own-learning.html

This is exciting and phenomenal at the same time! Imagine, 4th graders, taking control of their own learning, grasping the concepts on their own with little help from the “Sage on the Stage”. The time is right for us as educators to relinquish the “control” that we so desire and allow our children to possess the skills and knowledge that they need to move forward in our world.

Other articles of interest:

Student Driven Learning = Passion-Based Classrooms

Real Life Learning

Differentiating Instruction is NOT Hard if We Tap into Student’s Passions!