One must care about a world one will not see. ~Bertrand Russell

When considering the differences in teaching today compared to as few as only five years ago, I know many of the “old timers” are singing…“times, they are a changin’.”  The continual improvement process of education has brought MSIP to our doorstep in Missouri.  At the local level, we see its impact through the implementation of data teams and teaching and learning 21st Century skills.  By nature, all these mandates for improvement cause us to evaluate our past practices.  It’s more than a little sCAREy to consider all  the changes being imposed upon us.  It’s left up to us to determine what “comes off our plate” from the past in order to add something new for the future.  What if we’re wrong?  What if the new isn’t as good as the old?  What if the new is better than the old, but we are not as good at implementing the new?   I ask myself these questions everyday as I walk through classrooms to see what is working well and what we can improve.

According to Saavedra and Opfer in their article, “Learning 21st-century skills requires 21st-century teaching,” schools today operate primarily in “the outdated, transmission model of education, through which teachers transmit factual knowledge to students…” which in turn limits students’ ability to apply the knowledge to new contexts, communicate in complex ways, be creative, or problem solve.  The authors share information from learning scientists who taught nine lessons relative to teaching 21st-century skills that I feel would be helpful to pass on considering the upcoming digital presentations we are sharing this Wednesday.  The lessons are:

  1. Make it relevant.
  2. Teach through the disciplines.
  3. Develop thinking skills.
  4. Encourage learning transfer.
  5. Teach students HOW to learn.
  6. Address misunderstandings directly.
  7. Treat teamwork like an outcome.
  8. Exploit technology to support learning.
  9. Foster creativity.

The most interesting part of the lessons is when they claim, “Technology allows students to transfer skills to different contexts, reflect on their thinking and that of their peers, practice addressing their misunderstandings, and collaborate with peers.”  As we enter this week of sCAREy things, I want to ask you to consider how comfortable you are as a 21st century teacher?  Don’t mask your feelings.  Take hold of the lessons like you would hold onto a bag of your favorite candy, and challenge yourself to overcome your fear and embrace the change.  Move your transmission model off your plate and face your creative fear.  Exploit that technology – don’t let the students exploit your patience.  Teach the students how to learn.  That will lead to you a world of thanksgiving.

Week 11 – A Look Ahead

This week on our administrative walkthroughs we will look for and provide feedback on use of technology.  How many classrooms are accessing our Project Connect devices?  What are students using the devices for?  How are teachings working with and monitoring student use.  Are lessons being taught able to work digitally?  How will a student be able to archive a lesson if this is something chosen to save in the digital warehouse?

Tuesday – Winter Pep Assembly planning meeting.  7:00 a.m. in room 106.  All staff interested in winter assemblies should attend.

Wednesday – Digital Exhibition presentations.  Schedule to be emailed.

Sunday – Daylight Savings time change (fall back)

FYI – a look farther ahead:  Nov 5 & 6 will be departmental data teams reviews with each department.  Have your data teams cycle 1 & start of 2 ready to share.

~Excellence is a journey not a destination.~

Images are available through CC on Flickr: “Eye of a Vampire” by Caitlin House; “10.25.10 298/365” by nineminutes.

  Saavedra, A.R. & Opfer, V.D.  “Learning 21st-century skills requires 21st-century teaching.” Phi Delta Kappan. Oct. 2012.

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