Wednesday, November 25, 2009

21st Century Skills, More than just buzz words

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

With the current economic situation, there has been an increased focus on preparing students for an ever-changing job market. One organization has been at the forefront of this movement is the The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Since it's inception in 2002, The Partnership has worked to develop and define what skills students would need in the changing marketplace and economy.As an educator in Tucson, the home of the Partnership, I am well aware of their ongoing work and the evolution of their framework.

The phrase 21st Century skills is one of the key things that is talked about in school reform, but some tend to think of this as just teaching students to use technology. A review of the Partnership's Framework for 21st Century Learning reveals that technology skills is just a part of the framework and not even the focus of 21st Century learning. In fact, their new framework design places an emphasis on the core subjects.Though they note on the site that "Partnership views all the components as fully interconnected in the process of 21st century teaching and learning " the design shows how the core subjects act as a foundation to the rest of the framework.The core subjects have always been a part of the framework, but more by implication than actual emphasis
As educator that has worked with computers or technology in a school setting for over 20 years, I really like how they have emphasized information, media and technology skills as being integral across the content areas and not just a discrete skill set to be taught in a technology class. Even today with all of the talk of technology integration into content area teaching, too much of the skills in these areas are expected to be taught by a technology teacher/aide. I feel that for true integration to happen, the classroom teacher should be teaching technology and info literacy skills AS they integrate technology.The Partnership has brought old ideas like cooperative learning back into the fold, emphasizing the importance of teamwork. The ability to work with people of various backgrounds is critical to survive in just about any job.

One of the best parts of what the Partnership is trying to do is to get away from the over-emphasis on standardized, high-stakes testing.  Their paragraph on 21st Assessments says it all, I think:
Authentic 21st century assessments are the essential foundation of a 21st century education. Assessments must measure all five results that matter — core subjects; 21st century content; learning skills; ICT literacy; and life skills. To be effective, sustainable and affordable, assessments must use modern technologies to increase efficiency and timeliness. Standardized tests alone can measure only a few of the important skills and knowledge students should learn. A balance of assessments, including high-quality standardized testing along with effective classroom assessments, offers students a powerful way to master the content and skills central to success.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blogging in the Classroom Idea

I've seen and heard of blogs being used in a variety of ways in the classroom. I decided one way that I would use a blog for would be for an 8th grade Current Events assignment for their Government class. As a technology teacher, I would coordinate some of my assignments/projects with the content area teachers. The Government teacher required his students to do a current events assignment where the students would have to clip two or three newspaper articles, write summaries and write definitions of a couple of key or new words from the articles. When I was teaching the students how to do PowerPoint, I would have them create a Current Events PowerPoint, with the same basic requirements, except the articles came from online sources (they had to link to the article in the PPT). The Government teacher would give extra credit to any student that would give their PowerPoint Current Events reports in class.

I feel that a blog would be a great way to take the whole current events assignment to the next level. A blog not only allows the student to post the article or links to the article, but it also gives them a great venue to express their thoughts or opinions on the news. The opportunity to get feedback from classmates and others also adds a new dimension to the assignment.
When students know that their work is going to be online, they tend to focus more on their grammar and spelling.

Monday, November 09, 2009

School use of Web 2.0 tools

Great story about students using Web 2.0 tools and 21st Century Skills in the classroom:

Students discovering online collaboration

By Kristen Alloway/The Star-Ledger

November 07, 2009, 11:07PM
First-grader Thomas Tsangaropoulos stands before a laptop during his Spanish class at Lake Parsippany School, smiles broadly into its tiny webcam and waves.

"Hola," he says to the image of a young girl appearing on the computer and on a large screen in the front of the Parsippany classroom. "Me llamo Thomas."

Across town, first-grader Mariah Colon peers into a laptop at Troy Hills School and waves.

"Hola. Buenos días," she says.

Remember when technology in schools meant computer labs and internet connections? New Jersey teachers and students are slowly but increasingly using the tools of Web 2.0 — the so-called second generation of the web that includes creative, collaborative, shared content.

Students are writing on wiki pages, blogging about their classroom activities, recording audio files for band practice, videoconferencing with people around the globe and chatting online about literature.

read the rest of the article here....
There is not enough of this going on in our schools and too many decision-makers out there that actually try and prevent access and such use of technology. (or is Arizona the only state that has anti-technology legislators)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Welcome back!

After a long absence, I've resurrected this blog, primarily for a class towards my MA in Ed Tech. Over the years, I've created several blogs for different projects and classes, only to let them collect dust after awhile due to time and other considerations. (I also have a politics-themed blog that I posted to frequently, but found others were much better at saying what I was saying, so I have let that lapse the last 12 months or so)

When it comes to sharing my thoughts or following the writings and musings of others, I pretty much have turned to Twitter:

BTW: I deleted a couple of old posts, but decided to leave a few older ones that contain some content/links that may be of interest to others.