Fourth grade teacher Patti Grayson has some major issues with summer reading in the elementary grades. What is the point of assigning students specific books to read? Summer is for building lemonade stands and chasing fireflies. Let kids pick books they like and write to you about why they liked them.
Done well, social media and technology integrated into the classroom feels like a familiar old leather softball glove. It becomes an extension of your hand and you almost forget that it’s there. Done badly, it’s a waste of time and the return on your investment is nil.
As the person most directly responsible for our school’s professional learning, I have been wondering what professional development looks like when you turn Bloom’s on its head and ask teachers to encourage students’ creative thinking early in the learning process. Teachers need to model their own creative thinking and embrace “messy” assessments.
At the beginning of the year, when teacher Jamie Weir invited her high school students to bring their mobile technology into her classroom, Grade 12 student Zac Hawkins’ first thought was “Easy class.” He couldn’t, he says, “bring myself to take the concept of using technology in the classroom seriously — more than likely because I’ve been taught all of my life that technology is not meant for the classroom and that school is a paper-and-pencil-only environment.”
Skype enables students to connect, collaborate, and communicate with students across the globe. It creates an opportunity for students to learn from each other, to have authentic audiences for their work, and to meet musicians, authors, and others who can further their learning. The possibilities are truly endless. Skyping is no longer a novelty — a once-in-awhile special event. It’s becoming a routine part of being an effective 21st century teacher.
Along with creativity, collaboration, and communication, critical thinking is one of the four components of learning in the 21st century. Unlike the other three, critical thinking is often difficult to reduce to bite-size pieces of understanding and challenging to teach to others.