Defining 21st Century Education

In my last post I discussed the curriculum design on 21st Century Schools. Recently, Patrick Bassett, President of NAIS has pre-published a paper entitled, “So What’s it Gonna be, Huh?” that defines 21st Century education as:

In my work with schools in the US and around the world, I frequently address groups of leaders, not only educators but their boards of trustees, primarily comprised of CEOs, social sector leaders, professionals, and, internationally, the diplomatic corps. When I ask the kind of “generative” question these school leaders should be asking themselves, “What are the skills and values that will be rewarded in the 21st. C.?,” I always, every time everywhere and anywhere in the world, get the same list:

* integrity and character
* teaming and leadership
* communication skills
* empathy, social and global consciousness
* expertise/competence in some field
* innovativeness and creativity.

What’s interesting is that this “wisdom of the crowd” is actually confirmed by a whole host of researchers, observers, and commissions who have “weighed in” on the topic within the last year or so.

He goes on to list a number of examples of programs that embody these characteristics and challenges schools to implement one of these programs during part of your school day/week.

He’s looking for feedback, and the place where I’m very interested in seeing what is out there is in the examples section. Here is his list.

What are the programs that you think of in Bassett’s definition of a 21st Century School?


Questions about Basic Technology Skills – Part II

Thanks, Nancy and David for stretching my thinking about this professional development day.

I’m struggling with appropriate administrative pressure and my department’s buy in to provide basics training to faculty. I have been re-tooling our sessions to allow for better technological solutions for everyday problems. For example, “Appropriate Presentations” would include a discussion about what appropriate skills and guidelines are, how to find images, and create a presentation that is visually appealing. Another example is, “Creating a Newsletter” which would include pulling resources together and then formatting them in a desktop publishing program.

Nancy, I love your visualization question,

“Try to “imagine it is a year from now and you have embraced a couple of tools and practices that make your work more meaningful/fun/productive. What does that look like?”

I plan on using this when asking folks to register for sessions.

I am truly struggling with David’s game. I believe in my heart that that is the way to go, but want to start slow in smaller groups so we have some practice before going to the “big group”. I would like to try this with a small group of faculty during this day.

I hesitate because this is my professional development first day like this with a new Head of School and Business Manager. We have a traditional faculty and I want to expose small groups to this before we do it with the entire faculty.

I will definitely use these exercises in my department over the Spring, and then during our Summer Professional Development series where we’ll be working with faculty to use read/write web options…

I’m trying to be transparent in my writing here… Honest and open. But boy do I feel like I’m not living up to good pedagogical principles for adult learning… It’s very hard to let go of that “control”.

Thanks again, Nancy and David, for stretching me.

Questions about Basic Technology Skills

I have been thinking a lot about what basic technology skills faculty should know. We’ve surveyed our faculty on basic tech skills, and have a good idea of what people know and don’t know, but what Technology skills should they know?

The reason I ask this question is that we have half of a professional development day in February to work with our entire faculty on technology skills. Our plan now is to run 4, 40 minute sessions on the basics: word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, desktop publishing, e-mail, information literacy skills, laptop hardware optimization and troubleshooting and configuration, and a number of other ‘basics’. We are planning lessons that demonstrate and allow participants to practice 2-4 skills, walk them through an Atomic Learning Lesson (if applicable), and give examples of the use of that software in a classroom.

NETS has a long list of skills that beginning teachers should have when entering the classroom. This list is well above the performance point of my faculty.

In order to learn something new, faculty (for that matter – anyone) must feel a need and be engaged. How do we get the second and third wavers to be engaged when teaching the basics? Nancy White asks these types of questions often.

Here are some of the other questions running through my head:

If you were running a seminar for faculty who have a wide variety of technology skills, what would be the core goal of each session that you teach?

Just thinking through my fingers: Start with the learners, know their skill set, and teach them what they need to get to the next level, even if that means configuring windows and file management.

What skills/applications would you teach?

Word vs. Google Docs

Do you have links to examples?

Our lesson plans will be posed here: Tech at Collegiate when complete.

Thanks for your time and thought.

Faculty Survey Update…

Back in November, I posted about a basic skills survey for faculty. I received a number of surveys from folks on the ISED-L listserv and pulled them together into this survey.

The results have been interesting. Many of our faculty knew much of what is on the survey. The holes and comments are what we’ll be digging through the results next week during the first of two 3 hour Technology Department meetings.

Just wanted to get the link to the survey up. Thanks to all who helped me putting this survey together.

Professional Development Models — How do you change teachers?

Over the summer, I wrote about collaboration and its power to help us learn.  One of the things I have noticed about our faculty laptop program is that the place where real innovation happens is when we have a group of fellows who have similar interests (department, grade level, etc.) have a clear goal and collaborate to achieve this goal.  This year it’s most aparent in our K-3 faculty who have a weekly Tablet user workshop.  This time is spent learning new software, sharing ideas, and discussing how to use them in class.  These faculty are using their tablets as anecdotal recording devices so when it comes to giving students feedback and evaluation (which should be often – even at the lower school level), they have a running record.  By collaborating on this project, they have revived a conversation about the importance of documentation and evaluation, a clear curricular goal.  They are using Microsoft OneNote where they can post inages, text (typed or written), audio and video content. 

A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in Lesson Study with our Math Department.  Lesson study is a method of teacher professional development, widely used in Japan, where faculty defne a learning goal, define the skills and content required before and after the lesson, design the lesson, observe the lessonbeing taught, collaborating on how to make the lesson better, and thenteach the lesson again to see the results. 

As I sat through the first session last week, my mind jumped to the small groups of laptop teachers with whom I am working.  I thought, “these small groups could tie in to a technology lesson and collaborate to design a lesson that has a curricular goal, but uses technology to enhance it.”  By working as a group, many of the bases that one teacher would miss would be hit.  There is also the support structure to allow faculty to do their lesson for the first time.  Much as the K-3 table group had done.

In Lesson Study, the product is not the point. The learning along the way is the point.  Just as we hope learning in the classroom will be (or at least I do).  To come out with a well designed lesson at the end, but the core participants have gone through the process of thinking about teaching and learning in a very intense way, giving them insight into their own teaching and learning – and the teaching and learning of their students.  Useful information that they can apply in the classroom the next day.  

Activity leads to learning, and that is why writing is so powerful.  I blog because when I think of ideas like these, writing helps to make connections and solidify them.  I think the process of Lesson Study will influence my professional development for the rest of my life.  Thanks to the Math Department for inviting me to participate. 

Blogged with Flock

Getting Students to Blog

Dean Shareski podcasted a show about a 1.5 hour blogging seminar for a high school writing course that he did recently. Check it out here. He ended his podcast asking about way to make this type of seminar more effective. I don’t have any good answers, but here is what we have done this year.

At my school, we have been experimenting with blogging since the fall. Our first test was a 6th grade technology course that had the faculty member put the assignment up and have students respond. That worked well because the students were required to do the assignment and they are middle schoolers who seem more enthusiastic about this.

Next, we had a Math class do a blog as well and that had one good run. The faculty member asked students to answer the last question on volume and then create their own word problem. Each student answered and created a question. Great assignment.

The other project I’m working on (and the one where I identify with Dean’s frustration in his podcast) is one with a 11th grade Journalism class. We started with them creating bloglines accounts and reading blogs and then we had them create their own blogs (wordpress mu – locally hosted). We finally got the kids working with the technology and comfortable with using trackbacks as well as posting blog items a few weeks ago and then had spring break. I feel that to get them going now, we really need to have the teacher begin using them in his class consistently and as a place where students place their assignments. Using them to create a conversation between him and the students or amongst students. Doing things that you can’t do so easily without technology.

When I get back to school next week (I’m on paternity leave this week), I hope to work with this faculty member to get the blogs more integrated into the course. Fingers crossed!

Clean Slate

So I am part of our scheduling committee. We have so many courses and conflicts and we try to do it all for everyone. We do good job creating a high quality educating for students, but there is so much pressure on kids to perform in multiple classes. Maybe too much pressure and stress. So we are looking at the schedule to try to create reform and lower pressure. But change is scary because if you change things, then there is a chance that things will go wrong and then you can’t go back. So we stay the same, or tweak the schedule. We are mostly paralyzed.

I think this can be scaled to the lack of change in our national educational system. As Alan November says, “Adults are driven by hopes and fears.” And we have a lot of scared people, for good reason, as our kids lives are at stake. The schools you see the most change are the places that are failing so miserably that it’s ok to flip them upside down and challenge the common notion of school.

I wish I could get together with some of my colleagues, and step out of our school and our habits — Redesign a K-12 from the ground up. If I could do this, I would start with skills matrix for developmentally appropriate skills K-12. Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, Foreign Language, Media Literacy, Information Literacy, Research Skills, Study Skills, etc. The whole nine yards. What skills do we think our kids need by the time they leave 12th grade. Then build curriculum on top of these skills so that every teacher in each grade or module teaches kids with those skills in mind.

All of this comes from a gut feeling lately — I don’t remember much of the content I was taught in school. I had a few of those amazing experiences that I will never forget — third grade independent reading or 11th grade history. Those teachers made emotional connections with me and knew how to motivate me. But the reality is that I don’t remember much the content of school. Do you?

Then there was my first year teaching. One of the classes I taught was an eight grade technology skills class. I did not have a faculty mentor, followed the syllabus from the last year, and taught the kids how I had been taught. Pop quizzes — lecturing — skills tests. Stand alone technology units. Luckily I was in graduate school at night and quickly learned to teach project based modules with authentic assessments. At the end of my first year, one of the veteran eight grade teachers said to me, “Middle School is about teaching the kids skills to survive in high school, they are never going to remember what we teach them.” Boy did that resonate with me.

So I guess that I believe that we need to teach kids the skills they need to be analytical, reflective, ethical, empathetic and creative (add your characteristics here) adults. To learn how to use the tools to format and present their learning. To teach others and to connect with people around the world in ways we could not have imagined 20 years ago. The content is there, but the skills will stay with them forever.

A clean slate to begin this discussion would be nice.

What would your slate include?