Sunday, March 29, 2009

I came across this post about teachers and Twitter - Nine Great Reasons Why Teachers Need Twitter.  It's worth the read if you aren't using it yet.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

21st Century Done Wrong

My previous post brought up the debate of core knowledge versus 21st Century skills. In this post I want to address why I think 21st Century skills emphasis sometimes goes wrong. Much of what takes place in the name of technology integration or 21C skills is actually a mere digitalization of what we already do. Instead of using a white board or overhead projector, we use PowerPoint to present the same notes. Instead of going to library to do research, we check out the laptop carts and let the kids search on the internet. Because we want to be sensitive to the fact that not all students have internet access at home, we "settle" for more shallow results. In the end when students have not reached the milestones we hear 21C is supposed to guarantee, we blame the methods.

As educators, we are constantly bombarded with news reports, university studies, etc. that say we are failing America's students. We are not able to compete in a global economy because we are not keeping pace with other countries in math, science, and technology. We are introduced to all kinds of gadgets and software. After a few hours of an afternoon inservice, we take our best shot at using them in the classroom.

This post is not a criticism of the teachers who give it their best or the administrators who push for implementation. The error occurs when the focus becomes the methodology instead of the content. One of the reasons we fall short in our implementation is we are not doing something that comes naturally. We are digital immigrants and not digital natives. We try to utilize software that we never use personally. When we do not know how something really works, we are not really able to utilize it.
I believe the first step in integrating these resources is to use them personally first. Many (Most)?) of us are not part of the digital generation. We don't think like they do. We try to speak a language we know nothing about. Once you become familiar with a tool, we won't have to try to had to find a way to use it. It will become more natural. We will then be able to focus more on the content (core knowledge) and skills (21st Century) because methodology will take care of itself.
What do you think? Any stories you'd like to share?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

21st Century or Core Knowledge? Do we have to choose?

A member of my Twitter PLN posted a link to this article about the debate between pushing 21st Century skills versus teaching core knowledge. I won't restate the article here. I'll just give my opinion. Opponents of 21C skills are setting up a false dichotomy. It is not an either or proposition. As one of my colleagues said during our discussion of the article today, "You can't do much with knowledge unless you can creatively use it to solve problems and to be creative you need a knowlege foundation."

I don't think anyone who teaches 21C skills has eliminated linear equations, the Louisiana Purchase, or the basics of the human circulatory system. Instead they have taken these topics and used new methods, maybe even expanded the core knowledge of the students because of the critical thinking that may have resulted.

I've got other thoughts that are related, but to keep the post short, I'll post them later. What are your thoughts and experiences on this issue?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Here we go a Jing-ing

Here's a link to a video screen capture I made today using Jing. Lots of cool classroom apps for this. . .

What are some of the ways you can see to use this?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's this all about?

Once again, I've created a blog. I'm hoping this will truly become a place of two way conversation. Along with this blog, I've created a wiki (link to come soon) where all of us can do more than just comment. But please comment here. Don't be afraid to express your thoughts or share your insights.

I want this to be a place where teachers can share ideas with one another. I want students to chime in and help us teachers. I want us teachers to not be afraid to learn from our students. For now the emphasis will be on integrating technology into instruction, especially web 2.0 resources. Here's a link to a wiki set up for a workshop I'm currently attending that will highlight those -

Join the Conversation

Welcome to Listen, Learn, Share. My hope is that you will do all three. You’ll find stuff for the teacher and the student in the traditional sense of the words. But if we really open ourselves to listen so we can learn what others have to share, we will all win in the process. Come back often and join the conversation.