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Archive for the ‘school2.0’ Category

Our OpenPD session this afternoon was designed to introduce blogging, my hope was the conversation would be beneficial for those in the class who are new to the concept and thinking about starting a blog of their own. Well once again my expectations were exceeded, and I am so grateful to all of those who participated today. Sue Waters was asked to join us and speak to those participating in class why she blogs, how she got started and if she would share any thoughts, and tip, for writing good posts. Well, Sue wrote a post about our OpenPD session, the topic for class, asking others contribute a comment on the impact their own blogging has had on them, their learning. It is full of interesting stories and suggestions, please take some time to read it. Sue also invited some other bloggers to join in the conversation as well; we were fortunate to have with us the following people:

Thank you all for making another session of OpenPD so worthwhile, I learned a great deal once again. I am grateful for the true sense of collaboration, and sharing everyone brings with them to class, what we are able to learn from one another is phenomenal. This is a wonderful experience for me. Sue thank you for all of your wonderful contributions to this class as well as your work in the edublogger world. On the wiki we do have an assignment for this coming week, look at and respond to 4 other blogs we have some listed on the participants page as well. Also to set up a blog at Edublogs so you are ready to start. Hope to see you all again next week.

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This week I am speaking to curriculum leaders in my district; I will be speaking to them about ISTE’s revised NETS for students and how they lend themselves to 21st century skills. On Friday I was surprised to have someone tell me my conversation should be one of explanation, there exists a need for me to explain 21t century skills and their place in our thinking as we go through the curriculum review process. What struck me as odd is the fact that this will be a NEW conversation in my district. That teachers in my district are not aware of what 21st century skills are, or why those skills / standards put forth through ISTE should have an impact on classroom practice. Am I so out of step to think this should not be a new conversation? I do not pretend to be at the forefront in educational thought, but I have known about the push for classroom reform to incorporate creativity, global awareness, diversity, critical thinking, problem solving, and digital citizenship for some time now. The NEA is a contributing partner in the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, teachers from across the US and 22 other countries worked to update the NETS Standards for students. I guess that is why I am surprised that I have to define what 21st century skills are on Monday. In the state of Pennsylvania, for the past three years PDE (PA Dept of Education) has funded $200 million dollars for Classrooms for the Future, a grant described in short this way:

Pennsylvania is committed to creating schools that can change to meet the needs of students by providing instruction grounded in rigor and relevance that prepares students for career and college. Our society has transformed into what Thomas Friedman refers to as a “flat world” — a global marketplace that is highly competitive and where every citizen has immediate access to unlimited information and to an abundance of continually newer and better services and goods. This environment demands that one possess 21st century skills such as collaboration and problem solving and the ability and knowledge to use technology resourcefully as both a consumer and a worker. High school students are poised to enter the global marketplace or to continue their education beyond preK-12 and it is our obligation to prepare them, within a short window of opportunity, for a “flat world” in which opportunities for jobs and higher education are highly competitive. By focusing on high schools, we will be providing these critical 21st Century skills while expanding learning opportunities, creating relevant and personalized information-driven learning environments, and ensuring in the success of these students. Pennsylvania is committed to creating schools that can change to meet the needs of students by providing instruction grounded in rigor and relevance that prepares students for career and college.

Are conversations regarding preparing students for their future taking place in your schools? Do people elsewhere understand what 21st century skills are, and the importance they hold for all students, for that matter, for all of us as the future unfolds?

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Image Source Flickr user: oberazzi (Tim O’Brien)

 

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Darren Draper’s blog post yesterday entitled Who’s Afraid of Digital Natives echoed some thoughts I have had myself about teaching, learning, education in general. I left a response over there, please go and take a look, here I have cross posted what I said there.
Darren, as we all know the future is now, the world has changed and it is not going back. We in education have to face the fact that it is not acceptable to teach the way we were taught. We are doing students a disservice in not using the tools they use in their daily lives, whether it is cell phone, iPod, MP3 player, digital camera, or online tools. We talk of modeling learning for students, the educational community needs to update their skills with the use of tools to engage students in their learning. I agree with you we do need to start thinking about what we do, and how we do it, and it will require time on everyone’s part. Yesterday Carolyn Foote was conducting a workshop and I had the pleasure of participating in a Skype call along with David Jakes, Patrick Higgins, and John Maklary. The conversation centered on connections, how we connect, the benefits of connecting with others outside of our own workplaces, and how the connections help us learn. The primary concern I hear most often from teachers, when introducing something new to use in instruction, is they have no time to learn about technology, it is still considered an add on by many, something else to teach.

David made a great point yesterday, he said we all have to make time to learn these new tools, take 15 minutes a day to focus on our own learning, over time it adds up. Those of us that understand the positive benefits of these educational technologies have taken the time to learn how to use them, taken time to understand their implication for use in teaching and learning. Yes, we are the ones who like technology, over the top to some, but we try, we make the effort, because we see the future, we know we have to do more to engage students. We are trying to make their learning relevant to their everyday lives, because the world has changed, and schools have to change as well.

Our students are connected all the time, I am sure they could explain the contributions they feel their connections bring to their lives and learning. So why not encourage their development, as you said, teach them responsible use, not ignore reality, its too easy to say no iPods or cell phones in school, students will use them to cheat. Instead when do we start to teach them to be good digital citizens, teach them ethical use of the tools? If we would only begin to imagine the possibilities.

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