Wednesday, November 25, 2009

21st Century Skills

After viewing the website called "Partnership for 21st Century Skills", I was very impressed to see how detailed and committed this organization seemed to be in promoting a common language and framework that promotes 21st Century learning in the field of education for all students across our great nation. With that in mind, I was truly disappointed to see that my home state, Georgia, was not included in the partnership for 21st Century skills.  Although I was relieved to see that we were not the only state that didn't join, I wasvery curious to know Georgia did not become a partnering member.  I wonder if it was it because the governor's office was not properly made aware of this 21st Century Skills partnership?  Or, was the governor's office made aware of the partnership and they decided to not become on board?  If the latter is true, then it would be very disappointing to know that my state was not on board with promoting 21st Century skills with our students.

However, I am relieved to know that the local school district in which I work for is very much on board with promoting 21st Century skills and at my local school, our Principal has addressed the need for these skills mulitple times throughout our staff meetings.  Unfortunately, while we recognize the need for our students to be exposed to 21st Century skills, we have not completely addressed or collaborated together on how we would use the 21st Century tools to help promote learning within our classrooms.  I believe that by partnering up with organizations like the "Partnership for 21st Century Skills", we would be able to gain much more knowledge and expertise on how to develop a common framework, common language and instructional plan to implement quality plus teaching strategies as it pertains to 21st Century Skills.  By putting our beliefs into actions, I hope that our local school system will become a model for our State to learn from so that we can do what is truly best for our students by helping to prepare every student in the state of Georgia for the work field and post-secondary education. 

In addition, I hope that soon, legislators from Georgia will be able to partner up with local businesses, colleges, and educators around our state to address teaching and learning in the 21st Century and to collaborate together to develop recommendations for how our state will incorporate 21st Century skills into our education system, just as other states have done before us. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Classroom Without Walls

After watching a teacher on DVD incorporate blogs into her 6th grade English and writing lessons, I must admit that I feel more at ease about exposing my elementary students to blogging.  I now feel more secure about how safe blogging can be for students and that their identities don't have to be compromised while blogging on the internet.  As I reflect on how I will use blogging with my 2nd grade students, I believe the easiest way to start off with blogging for children at their age would be to have them display their classwork or projects electronically on the computer. 

For example, I would use blogging to enhance a previous social studies project in which students were asked to draw their ultimate playgrounds that included a map key, a compass rose and a brief paragraph explaining all of the items on their playground.  This assignment was a take home project that included a clear rubric for students and parents to use as a guide for their projects.  At the end of the assignment, students were given an opportunity to share their projects with their classmates.  As an extension to this social studies project, I would have the students present an electronic copy of their playground on our class weblog site.  By doing so, students would be able to either create their ultimate playground through clip art or saved images on the computer, or they would scan their drawings onto the computer.  Then, students would type a brief paragraph explaining in further detail the purpose of the items in their ultimate playground that was presented in their map key. 

Showcasing students' work on the internet provides students with an opportunity to connect their learning to technology and society today.  For instance, I remember as a kid asking my teachers how certain assignments or concepts related to the "real world" and receiving very unclear responses.  Now, students can clearly see how their assignments relate to the "real world" and they are now able to quickly connect their classroom learning experiences to their everyday interactions with technology and society. Blogging in the classroom also provides each child with the opportuntity to showcase their work not only to their classmates, but to their friends and family members outside of the classroom.  No longer do parents, friends and families have to wait until work samples come back home or when they are displayed on the walls at school.  With the use of the internet, classmates can now display their work to as many people as they choose and at their convenience.  By showcasing our work through blogging, our classroom can now become a classroom without walls.

Martin (Presenter). (2008) "Spotlight on Technology: Blogging in the Classroom". [DVD]. Laureate Education, Inc.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education and Society

Hello everyone,

This is my very first time posting a blog on my website, so please be patient with me. This is very exciting yet very intimidating for me as well. To be honest, blogging was something that I thought I would never participate in. While I enjoy reading some informative blogs, I have never had the urge to create my own. I must admit that I began this blog for an assignment given to me through graduate school at Walden University. In keepings things slightly simple for me, in efforts to ease any first day anxieties with blogging on my own site, I would like to share with you my thoughts on the impact of technology in our classrooms today. Please feel free to respond in agreement or disagreement with my idea of what has been one of the most innovative technological impacts in our classrooms today.

Technology's Impact in our Classrooms Today

I believe the use of the interactive SMART Board enables teachers and students to do something extremely valuable and different for learning. I have been fortunate enough to have a SMART Board in my classroom for the past two years and it has truly redefined my approach to teaching. The visual and interactive capabilities that the SMART Board provides are immeasurable and the engagement it extracts from students are priceless. I don’t think I could have ever received as much attention and engagement from my students as I have now without this huge, interactive white board being present in my room. As the fourth grade teacher, Kristy Zeller said, “technology provides many resources, holds students’ attention, and keeps them from misbehaving”. I have found this to be especially true with the SMART Board and I have valued its impact on the students ever since I received one. As Thornburg (2004) stated, “there was a time when computers in the classroom were rare and largely underpowered”. Now technology, especially the SMART Board, has a command of its own that seems to demand our attention on a daily basis within today’s classrooms.

The interactive board has truly redefined our expectations for learning and teaching. I have found that it has helped assist me in effectively communicating with my English language learners by providing them with an engaging, visual and auditory ways to enhance their learning and understanding of various content areas. As Thornburg (2004) says, technology “allows us to explore rich domains of study to levels of depth that was unimaginable a decade ago”. I’m not sure I could have said it any better. The SMART Board has helped to make learning more meaningful for both my struggling students as well as my above average students. It has become a “power tool for education” (Thornburg, 2004) and as Zeller said, “I wouldn’t go back”!

Associated Press. (2008, May 9). Technology rich classrooms render textbooks useless. Teacher Magazine.

Thornburg, D. (2004). Technology and education: Expectations, not options. (Executive Briefing No. 401). Retrieved from