Partnerships to Incorporate 21st Century Learning Skills into the Classroom

I can’t remember a time in my life when school wasn’t something that I was involved in. I went from watching my older sister go to school when I was just a youngin’ and yearning to participate. Then the day came when I began preschool and eventually headed off to elementary school. I always loved going to school! I remember going into middle school and the excitement of having more responsibility and the opportunity to learn in multiple classes, and that only grew as I went into high school. Then came college and as a true education junky, I was called to be a teacher… bringing me right back to the beginning. While my love for continual learning was a constant in my life, so was my questioning. Throughout my educational career I always wondered the one question that most other students can resonate with… “how am I going to use this in the real world?”. Sometimes this question came a little snarkier than others, but often I genuinely was interested in how I would possibly use my experiences in The Oregon Trail simulation once I grew up. Fast forward a decade or two and I am finally finding out some significance to more than the question of how the content I was learning would help me in the future… but to why the methods of how I learned the content would help me in the future.   Nicole Krueger writes in her article, Preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet, “The massive shifts technology and globalization that are expected to transform the workplace have already begun. In many industries and countries, some of the most in-demand jobs didn’t even exist five or 10 years ago – and the pace of change will only accelerate.” So why should we be teaching the exact same things now as we did years and years ago… if it isn’t getting our students ready for jobs that will be in high demand when they are older?   Krueger also references an incredibly insightful TedTalk by Aspen Meineke, on how it’s educators responsibility to spark the imagination of their students. You can watch it here.  Both Meineke and Krueger speak to the importance of HOW content is taught and not only WHAT content is taught. But how can we focus on the how instead of the what? Here is where collaboration and 21st century learning skills come into play.   21st Century Learning Skills:   The Ed Glossary defines 21st century skills as: “a broad set of knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits that are believed—by educators, school reformers, college professors, employers, and others—to be critically important to success in today’s world, particularly in collegiate programs and contemporary careers and workplaces.” Instead of just teaching our students the “what” content such as mathematics, ELA, science, social studies and other tradition subjects, we need to start infusing our classrooms with these “hows” of learning.   First off, educators cannot remain in a bubble and hope to be launched into the future. Peer coaching and collaboration are key for teachers to get practice with these skills first hand, and to also share their knowledge with peers. This brings me to my research question for this module:   “How can coaches help their learning partners to understand and incorporate 21st century learning skills into their teaching?”  As a newbie to the term “21st century learning skills”, I started my research by searching for examples of what some of these special skills were. This led me to a wealth of knowledge from the group “Battelle for Kids”. They have created a fantastic model that represents 21st century skills.   Each of these overarching aspects to the overall 21st century skills came with a list of skills that fall below them:   Learning and Innovation Skills:  These skills help students to become more fluent at adapting to complex situations and environments. They include:  Creativity and Innovation  Critical Thinking and Problem Solving  Communication  Collaboration  Information, Media, and Technology Skills: These skills assist in the ability of citizens to adapt in a world of constant information, technological, and contribution changes. These “functional and critical thinking skills” include:  Information Literacy  Media Literacy  ICT (Information, Communications, and Technology) Literacy  Life and Career Skills: These skills will help students to work effectively in their future careers. They include social emotional skills along with contextual knowledge. They are:  Flexibility and Adaptability  Initiative and Self-Direction  Social and Cross-Cultural Skills  Productivity and Accountability  You can find more depth information regarding this model here.   While this list gives an incredible insight to some of the skills that can help students be more adaptable and future-ready, it does not all need to be done at once. As Foltos states in his book “Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration”, start small and start positive.   So how can coaches help their learning partners focus on the how of teaching instead of the what? Begin incorporating activities that encourage the acquisition of one of the 4 C’s. Encourage educators to become familiar with the ISTE student standards to help promote the “Information, Media, and Technology Skills”  branch. Become versed in the SEL teachings that encourage the skills that fall under “Life and Career Skills”.   What do you do in your coaching/classroom to promote 21st century skills? What do you do in your own practice to stay fresh with these skills? Comment below!  Resources  21st Century Skills Definition. (2016, August 25). The Glossary of Education Reform. https://www.edglossary.org/21st-century-skills/  Aspen Meineke. (2020, January 9). Help Students Find Their Spark [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCkfprNWV7M&feature=youtu.be  ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). ISTE. Retrieved November 5, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches  Krueger, N. (2019, November 22). Preparing students for jobs that don’t exist. ISTE. https://www.iste.org/explore/ISTE-blog/Preparing-students-for-jobs-that-don%27t-exist  Partnership for 21st Century Learning. (2019). Battelle for Kids. https://www.battelleforkids.org/networks/p21 

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My First Attempt at Coaching

This semester for our big project we worked with a teacher from our schools to create a coaching relationship. The goal was for us to […]

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21st Century Coaching

For this module of our course, we have been focusing on 21st century learning and how we can use that in our coaching relationships. This […]

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Designing Learning Experiences Through Surveys

As a teacher in a district that is working diligently on improving student achievement, I attend A LOT of professional developments. Some are absolutely fantastic; engaging, helpful, and I actually can see myself practicing… but more times than no…

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Digital Tools in Assessment

During the last two weeks in my grad school program we have been working with ISTE standards as normal, however this time we moved into […]

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A Global Cardboard Collaboration Challenge

This semester we were tasked with designing and completing a global collaborative project. With the many changes that have been happening in education due to […]

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Learning and Leading with Twitter

ISTE Standards for Educators 1 & 2 My latest focus on my journey towards digital education leadership has been focused around the first and second ISTE Standards for Educators. These two standards are about being a learner and being a leader… which through my research, I have learned go perfectly hand in hand.  I was mostly interested in 1b and 2c and how “participating in local and global learning networks” can help to achieve 2c. In our current teaching and learning model of remote education, I have seen the importance of not only starting to use new digital resources and tools, but the critical need to be able to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of these resources. It isn’t impossible, but it is unrealistic for each teacher to spend the time researching and exploring every single digital resource or tech tool that they come across. And this is where those “local and global learning networks” can come into play! This led me to my essential question: Focusing on remote learning… how can educators support each other to help advance understanding and implementation of technological tools. Let’s get started! What is a PLC/PLN/GLC? Whether you call it a “professional learning community”, “professional learning network”, or “global learning community”, we are essentially referring to the same thing; a group of people that come together (physically, or virtually) to discuss ideas, question one another, and further thinking on a specific topic.  Andrew Miller, an Edutopia Blogger, writes about how to create effective PLCs. PLCs (professional learning communities) are groups of educators that come together to collaborate and learn from one another to help improve student engagement and achievement. He states that “a learning team constantly engages in a cycle of learning: analyzing data, setting goals, and learning individually and collaboratively, as well as implementing and adjusting practices to meet the needs of all learners.”  His post “Creating Effective Professional Learning Communities” is a great resource to help get started in PLCs, you can find it here. There are tons of ways to get into PLCs… your school, your district, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and so so many more. I personally was in “PLCs” on my social media accounts without even realizing it!  One of my faves on Facebook is Not So Wimpy Fifth Grade Teachers, an insanely gracious group of teachers who share so many resources and support their fellow teachers like nothing I’ve seen before. (Also not as “professional”, but a learning community nonetheless Fitness for Teachers, a group that give advice and encouragement on how to stay healthy while teaching).  And on Instagram I follow some incredible groups who share resources, provide professional development and give inspiration: Get Your Teach On and Teach Your Heart Out. While all of these are fantastic ways to get hooked up with PLCs, I am on a mission to expand my horizons. Being a millenial – I have been aware of the existence of Twitter for quite some time. I even tried it out when I was in high school… and quickly decided that it wasn’t for me. Fast forward to my teacher prep classes, and it was suggested again for me to make an account to help come up with ideas for lessons… and again I decided I didn’t need a Twitter and that I had a community in my cohort, and that was good enough for me. Well, now a decade after I pushed Twitter to the side, a pandemic hits and teachers’ “traditional” strategies are all out the window as remote learning becomes our “new normal”. Once more, I am walking towards the “Twitter” light – and I LOVE what I see.  Twitter image attribution Flickr user sylviaduckwirth; 50 Of The Best Education Accounts On Twitter Here is some of my original learning: “Hashtag” – an easy way to sift through posts and find ones that are specific to the information that you are looking for “Ed chats”- a set time to log in and collaborate over a set topic Networking – connect with other educators by following them!  Posting – share your findings with the world! Tweetdeck – a website to use with Twitter that allows you to follow hashtags You can also schedule tweets to post! (Thanks to the amazing @mheinema1, Digital Learning Coach Extraordinaire who introduced me to this tool!) Steps to get started Start following users to add to your network! Here are some great handles that I follow that focus on digital education:  Once you have followed some people and are ready, you can get in on the fun! Here are some great hashtags for teaching and learning: Remember, you can just follow others and search hashtags until you are comfortable being part of the conversation. Twitter has the ability to bring teachers from all over the world into one community, to explore and evaluate digital resources and share their findings and success together.  What are your Twitter findings? Drop a comment below! References Goal-Setting for Teachers: 8 Paths for Self-Improvement. (2018, September 24). Retrieved from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/goal-setting-for-teachers/ ISTE Standards for Educators. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators Miller, A. (2020, January 4). Creating Effective Professional Learning Communities. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/creating-effective-professional-learning-communities Rubin, A. (2020, January 16). How to Build a Teacher PLC in 3 Easy Steps. Retrieved from https://www.weareteachers.com/teacher-plc-steps/ Serviss, J. (2019, November 6). 4 benefits of an active professional learning community. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/professional-development/4-benefits-active-professional-learning-community

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Using Flipgrid for Collaboration in a time of Remote Learning

ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education, wrote a set of standards specifically for educators to help them achieve academic and technological empowerment. The last quarter of my Digital Education Leadership program had us focusing on the ISTE standards for students. This quarter the shift is from focusing on the student standards to focusing on the standards that educators should meet. The fourth educator standard is titled “collaborator”. ISTE Educator #4: Collaborator What a time to be focusing on collaboration and specifically concerning digital education! The model for our day to day schooling has been flipped on its head, and is forcing educators around the world to become more technologically savvy on a whim. This “remote learning” can be quite challenging without the tools for student and teacher collaboration.  When my class was shifted from in-person learning to teaching a group of 24-5th grade students through a screen, I needed to up my tech game… not only did I need to collaborate with my team on a more efficient basis, but I also needed to find safe and effective means of collaboration for my students.  When researching teacher collaboration, I found myself reading articles on schoology.com.  Lauren Davis wrote an article titled “Teacher Collaboration: How to Approach It In 2020”. Davis writes about the importance of teacher collaboration leading to the sharing of student learning responsibility. Where one teacher can make some change, a group of teachers can make a world of change! One important effect of teacher collaboration is more creative lesson plans. This piece drew me in – especially during this “remote learning” era. Not only do I want to have more creative lesson plans, I am now being called to work more creatively just to create those plans! Another vital part of teacher collaboration is less isolation. Which also, is crucial to address in these times.  If you’d like to read more, you can find the article here. This piece led me to the realization that I needed to look at the ways I was already collaborating, and how I could improve my collaborative methods.  What I was already using: Teacher collaboration –  For most of our teaming we used the apps in Google Drive. It has a range of applications that are all available through the internet! You can create documents (Google Docs), spreadsheets (Google Sheets), presentations (Google Slides/Jamboard), and many more. All of these are available to collaborate with others instantaneously!  Find all the G Suite apps for education here: link. While Google Drive has some amazing programs that are easily accessible to many at once (or on their own time), it is still challenging to collaborate in a quick way – the way that you could if your team was in person working together on their docs. Once schools were closed, we needed to find a way to talk to one another while working. Like many other school districts, this led us to Zoom.  Zoom is a video conferencing tool. Most of the features are available with the free version, however as an educator. It enables my team to connect to one another remotely. I immediately fell in love with the idea of video conferencing – it is an effective and efficient way to collaborate with my teammates remotely!  Interested in Zoom? Here’s the link. While Zoom is a great way to meet with people – others have to be available at the same time to talk to each other. With many families having to work around one anothers schedules, not all students are able (or willing) to all meet at one time to sit and watch a lesson be taught through a video conference.  Teacher and student collaboration –  Zoom is still working in my class as a check in strategy, but to teach my students, I needed to find another tool. This led me to Flipgrid. Flipgrid is a website that allows you to create video responses to topics, other videos, or questions. All of the videos are saved within a “grid” that is created by an educator. This website provides a safe way to create, edit, and post videos of their classmates and teachers! My favorite part; a preloaded topic that supports students in making an introductory video! How I am going to use it:  Post instructional math videos for students to watch and have students create a reaction video solving math problems Post read alouds with accompanying comprehension strategy lessons and have students represent their learning with comp. strategy practices through a video Have students create check in videos (virtual show and tell, teach your teacher a skill, student storytelling, etc) Have students create videos with their own ideas of collaboration methods using Flipgrid! Want to learn about all the awesome ways to use Flipgrid for remote learning? Here’s the website. While one app won’t solve our remote learning shortfalls, researching and taking the chance on new educational technology can help us work towards bettering our collaboration.  References: Bristol, J. (2019, June 24). Google Drive Review for Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/education/website/google-drive ISTE Standards for Educators. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators Powers, M. (2020, April 13). Flipgrid Review for Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/education/website/flipgrid Schoology. (n.d.). Teacher Collaboration: How to Approach It In 2020. Retrieved from https://www.schoology.com/blog/teacher-collaboration Tewalt, A. (2020, March 13). Remote Learning with Flipgrid. Retrieved from https://blog.flipgrid.com/news/remotelearning

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Creating an Environment of Collaboration and Risk Taking

For my last few blog posts I have been reflecting on ISTE standards for students. As I continue to move through my graduate program, the […]

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Innovative Designing Through Makerspace

“Students who understand the innovation process and develop traits that successful innovators possess will have a distinct advantage when they enter the workforce.” The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces Last year, a wonderful member of my 5th grade team planned a career fair for our students. One of the volunteers was a recruiter for Worksource. In his presentation he told us that 65% of our students will be working in a job that doesn’t exist right now. I remember being so shocked at that number! And while my students were amazed at the possibilities, I have to admit it made me a little nervous. How do we get our students to possess the traits that will have them be successful with their future jobs, when we don’t even know what those jobs will be? Well, ISTE Student Standard 4 is focused on the Innovative Designer and gives us some guidance for how we can help prepare our students: My search led me to an incredibly insightful piece of writing, Here’s how you teach innovative thinking. Team ISTE writes about the shift from the information-age into the innovation-age and how students will need to have traits that will help them fit into this age. “Many innovative companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and Instagram did not exist when their current employees were in grade school.” They go on to talk about the key concepts of teaching innovation: Students will need the ability to collaborate with “collective intelligence” Students will need to be lifelong learners to keep up with the ever changing available answers Students will need to develop a sense of metacognition to evaluate the way they think They also note the need for 5 specific job types: makers, coders, inventors, entrepreneurs and authors. This led me to the idea of maker space… so the research continues! Thankfully, there is an abundance of resources about makerspaces and specifically how you can use them in the classroom! Quite a few articles mentioned that the idea of makerspaces help students to learn through constructionism. This is a term I wasn’t extremely familiar with it, but I found out that it a term that is synonymous with the term “constructivism”. In Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching, Effective Learning, the authors defines Constructivism as, “an approach to learning that holds that people actively construct or make their own knowledge and that reality is determined by the experiences of the learner”. Learning about constructivism helped me to relate the concept to the more basic idea of having students learn through play! What a fun idea. My next stop was an article titled The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces. I learned that makerspace for education is meant to challenge students to look at the same problem, and while they may have different approaches to solve the problem, they will come to similar conclusions. Makerspaces enable students to work through the problem in their own way, while also having the ability to work collaboratively. I also came to see that a main goal of makerspaces is for students to bounce ideas off of one another, in a hope that some may rise to be the teacher and lead the others to one conclusion.  Now that I understood what the concept of makerspace is, how do you create one? Well, Kurti, Kurti, and Fleming gave us a great breakdown of how educators can get started! I understand why makerspaces are gathering such popularity in schools! I’d love to hear your thoughts and makerspace success and trials! Comment below to share. References Elliott, S.N., Kratochwill, T.R., Littlefield Cook, J. & Travers, J. (2000). Educational psychology: Effective teaching, effective learning (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill College. ISTE Connects. (2016, January 19). Here’s how you teach innovative thinking. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=651 Kurti, R. S., Kurti, D. L., & Fleming, L. (2014). The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces. Teacher Librarian, 41(5), 8-11.

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