What an honor to be chosen as the Featured Teacher for Classroom 2.0 LIVE! If you are interested in Project-based Learning or 21st Century Learning, here is the recording. Here’s the Livebinder link to all of the projects and resources mentioned in the presentation.
Make sure you visit the Classroom 2.0 LIVE site and check the calendar for upcoming events and archives. They are always a great resource for cutting edge education ideas and resources.
The buzz about 21st Century Learning is everywhere, but what exactly does it mean? It’s often linked to technology, but that is only a small part. In fact, much of 21st Century Learning can happen without the use of technology. If technology is available and used in the right way, it can provide powerful tools for authentic learning and integration of 21st Century skills, but unfortunately, that is not always what we see in our classrooms. Purchasing equipment does not automatically create better learning. We watch our classrooms fill up with technology, but we often see no plan in place to use it to benefit student learning. This requires a change in teaching. With no change in teaching and learning, computers are often used for mainly word processing and Google searching. As an educator, this concerns me.
Let’s start with what 21st Century Learning means. It is the marriage of content and skill. Teaching content is what we are familiar with in our education systems: learning states and capitals, mathematical equations, historical events, scientific discoveries, and countless others. 21st Century Learning takes that content and makes it relevant. It not only shows learners how that content can be used to solve problems, construct new ideas, and through collaboration, expand that understanding, but it allows them to actually experience that as they learn.
How many school districts have mission statements that refer to educating problem solvers, critical thinkers, and creative minds? How many of them go farther than words and actually do something meaningful to provide that in their classrooms?
Equipping teachers to lead our students’ way in this takes a lot more than buying computers for schools. Before continuing, let’s figure out how to use what we have to further what many of us believe to be true: the world needs empowered critical thinking problem solvers that have the ability to learn collaboratively and create the solutions to problems that we have no way of knowing exist right now. It isn’t as difficult as it seems.
It starts with a unified vision, the development of a plan to create the teaching and learning environment, and the implementation of that plan. Many have led the way. It isn’t a mystery any more. Schools around the country have embraced this and have left their footsteps to follow. It’s just a quick Google search away!
As happens frequently, I started a moderately small project called My Hero through iEARN, an organization that I love. As I crafted it into my flavor of Project-based Learning unit, I wanted to end with my learners seeing how they themselves are heroes, and that who they are in this world really matters. So, of course that reminded me of my lovely friend, Joan Steffend, who is the founder of peace begins with me (a small BIG peace project). And so it begins.
Other classes in my district jumped on, and everyday heroes started coming out of the woodwork to talk to our classes about their ‘inner hero’. Our website for the project includes a VoiceThread on the homepage that allows anyone to stop by and record their voice and tell us what their super hero power is. Joan describes, “I’d love if you’d go to this website and record your thoughts on what you are passionate about…what you do every day…why being a caring, thoughtful person is important to the world, why it’s important for kids to believe in the power of their own actions and thoughts…why hero is a word we may have to add a new definition for…how what we do in our individual lives matters, you get the idea! You don’t have to answer all of those, I’m just priming your pump to get you started! If you’d start with your name, location, and maybe what you do for a living, that’d be great! Much love!”
I have no idea where we will end up, but so far I know that the kids involved will be the very lucky recipients of some amazing heroes among us. Watch for updates!
Guest Post: Donna Román about Starting out School Year
Donna Adams Román is a 5th grade teacher at Mill Creek School in Geneva, Illinois, blogger, trainer, and presenter committed to providing rich learning opportunities for her learners and professional learning network. She is a recent recipient of ISTE’s first place SIGOL Online Learning Award. Donna is active in Professional Development online and in her district, CoSN, ISTE, Flat Classroom®, and iEARN (International Education Resource Network). We met Donna at ISTE 2013 with Lisa Parisi, a 5th grade teacher in Long Island, New York.
Welcome Donna! Her first guest post with us is a cross-post of the September 20th post from her blog “Map without Borders” about starting out this school year.
PBL for the 21st Century Success: Teaching Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication and Creativity, looks like another wonderful edition to the Project-based Learning books published through the non-profit Buck Institute for Education (BIE). Suzy Boss, lead author, and John Larmer, Editor-in-Chief of BIE, summarized the book in their June 5th webinar. Although it was written for middle and high school, as 5th grade teacher, I think it would work for upper elementary as well. I’ll give a few highlights here, but it is really worth a closer look.
Focuses on integrating and explicitly teaching the 21st century competencies, the 4Cs: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication
There are chapters that focus on each of the 4Cs that provide:
Classroom ‘Look fors’ that we should be seeing over time to demonstrate learning
Infographics that deliberately explain how the Cs can be integrated in every aspect of the project
Rubrics to assess the Cs at all of the four stages of the project
In addition, you will find:
Research highlights throughout
Alignment with the Common Core and explanations
Tech tips to help support the development of the 4Cs
I just have to share this amazing video by our partner school, Mr. Matt McGuire’s Grade 2 class at Kingsclear Consolidated School in New Brunswick, Canada. This song was written, performed and recorded by the class as a culmination of our Eagle Eye to the World Project. It will make your day!