Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Evaluating 21st Century Skills

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has established an informative website that focuses on 21st century readiness skills for our students.  My initial reaction to the site was disbelief. Without the requirement to visit this website, I feel as though I may have never uncovered such a valuable resource.  I am left to wonder if I am preparing my students for future work environments as efficiently as I should.  As I browse through the headings, the importance of this site and the development of essential 21st century skills become more evident.

Being an educator today carries with it more expectations for the development of our students.  Dr. Dede discussed how problems today are much more complicated and it takes a group of people with specialties in multiple areas to devise complete answers (Laureate, 2010).  The problem that is seen throughout education is the levels at which our students are entering the workplace.  They are not equipped with skills that will allow them to adapt to changes that are being made, especially in technology.  Many times the understanding behind education is that if a student can read, write and be proficient in math, then they will be successful in the workplace.  The news from this website taught me otherwise.  The core subjects are still a necessary part of education, but the 21st century skills are focused toward developing a well rounded person.  I was surprised at the inclusion of learning, thinking, and life skills. I was amazed that global awareness and health and wellness were included as significant areas critical to success of our students.  As an educator in Illinois, I discovered that the Illinois State Board of Education is currently working to revise state assessments to include 21st century readiness.  With that in mind, it is essential for me to look at my current practices in the classroom, and develop methods that will increase these skills in all of my students.

Although I agree that our students need to be ready for the workplace and to be citizens in their community, I disagree with the statement that “a profound gap exists between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need for success in their communities and workplaces” ( I would like to think that I could speak for all teachers when I say that our goal in education is to prepare our students for life after graduation to the best of our abilities.  Personally, I work hard to implement lessons that do more than just teach the concept of science.  Implementing group activities teaches our students to work in teams as they would in the workplace.  Presentations in class increase communication skills. The inclusion of real world events and class work that incorporates critical thinking is something that is performed repeatedly.  I feel that teachers are doing what they can, with the resources they have been provided, to prepare their students for the real world. 

Another disagreement I have in regards to this site deals with high school reform.  A statement is made that America is struggling “to make high school education rigorous, meaningful and relevant once again” (  It gets frustrating to feel as though it is always the fault of a teacher when a student does not succeed.  I teach many of the 21st century skills that Dr. Thornburg discussed (Laureate, 2010).   At some point, the student has to be held accountable for how they choose to use these skills.  With that being said, I continue to educate myself on new ways to present required information as well as the lifelong skills that have been discussed. 

The implication for me as an educator is that there are many skills that I am not preparing my students with.  The implication for my students is that they will fail in the workplace if teachers do not fuse the three Rs and four Cs.  I feel that as educators we are working to complete these tasks.  I am thankful for the online resources that Partnership for 21st Century Skills provides on their website and look forward to improving my classroom with techniques provided by other educators. 


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Program number 11: Skills for the 21st century. [DVD]. Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2004). Retrieved January 26, 2011 from

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blogs in the Classroom

In preparation for college and the workplace, I have created new ways of teaching in my anatomy class.  Students are studying the current chapter through research and questioning.  They were assigned specific tasks that included readings from various books, work with vocabulary, and discovery through an interactive PowerPoint presentation. At the end of day one, they were expected to turn in five questions that related to the topic.  These questions will be researched by me and answered during discussion in a couple days.  The task of the second day was to create five test questions. These questions were compiled to create a worksheet to be completed at the end of the research.  This lesson has prompted the design of a blog for a high school anatomy class.

Using a blog in the classroom is a way to develop a collaborative space for my students (Laureate, 2010).  The blog can be used as an interactive research tool. The readings will still be assigned, but I can use the blog to establish prompts that are of high interest to my students.  It will be the responsibility of all students to participate in discussion by responding to the initial prompt.  They will post their answers and the links where they found their information.  A compilation of links will create learning resources for future lessons. Depending on the time allotted for computer use, new tasks can be established daily.

This blog can be used as a commonplace for questions and answers, not only between classmates, but globally.  The requirement for students would be to post their five questions and then answer five on their own, each in response to a different student.  This will increase independent learning and alleviate the time it takes for one person to answer a multitude of questions. By including this blog on a global scale, collaboration may be done at a distance with other students worldwide (Laureate, 2010). Another task of the assignment is to create test questions.  These questions will be posted and become self-check quizzes so that students can assess their learning. 

Students are receptive to new ways of learning, especially when it decreases note taking and use of a textbook.  Incorporating blogs into the classroom atmosphere is a way to engage students in a different type of learning.  It is a way for them to become more engaged in their education and share individual thoughts (Ackerman, 2006). Not only are they being educated by their teachers, they are educated by their peers.  This will create a renewed excitement in the classroom, and increase the motivation of students to learn independently and collaboratively.

Ackerman, Jay D. (2006). Motivation for writing through blogs. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Program number 4: Technology and society. [DVD]. Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Program number 6: Spotlight on technology: Blogging in the classroom. [DVD]. Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What to choose?

With the amount of technology available for classrooms today, it is difficult to know what to use.  There are some factors that dictate what is possible.  The first one is funding.  It is hard to use something if you do not have it.  Another factor is experience, or lack of.  It is hard to find time to become tech savvy in all aspects of technology.  The third factor is time.  How do we find time to create lessons that incorporate technology in a way that students will benefit?  These factors have contributed to the creation of this blog. Educators are encouraged to share their experiences in the classroom related to technology. Smart Boards are in many classrooms, but what can we do to use them as a productive piece of technology?  What other gadgets are available?  An ELMO has recently been added to my tools in the classroom, but it is a foreign piece of equipment to me.  Let's work together to provide ideas that will allow us to pep up our classrooms with technology.