Friday, July 27, 2012

Podcast with Kate MacMorran
Welcome back and thank you for rejoining my ongoing discussion about technology integration in education. This week I interviewed Kate MacMorran, to discuss how she utilizes technology in her personal and professional life.  Through the interview we delve into such areas as technology dependency, integration in schools, the role technology plays in her life and the disconnection that can be created through non authentic interactions.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Evaluating 21st-Century Skills

 Delving into the website of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, one can easily become overwhelmed with the amount of information and resources available. While there is a plethora of information and resources to support educators utilizing 21st century skills in the classroom, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, have created a user-friendly website. Navigating through the website is quite simple, it almost seems the websites and been created with the not so tech savvy individual in mind.  Yet, the website not only serves as a resource for educators, but as a source to clarify and discover teaching strategies to integrate 21st century skills.     

What I found to be most engaging about the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website, was how it helped clarify my understanding of 21st century skills.  So many times, we use educational jargon in our discussions without fully understanding all of the intricacies of the model.  The Partnership for 21st Century Skills provides information in a clear and useful manner that is easily accessible for teachers and other stakeholders. According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, today’s students need to move beyond the basics of the 3 R’s.  It is essential now that teachers emphasize the 4 C’s of 21st Century Skills (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity).  The Partnership helps to synthesize this information into a manageable and useful tool for educators. In addition, the skill maps the Partnership for 21st Century Skills created helped to guide educators apply these skills within their specific content areas.  The final area I found useful were the best practices tools created by educators that implemented 21st century skills within the classroom.  So many times we speak of these concepts in theory, but to see an application helps educators generate ideas, which can subsequently be translated into their own classroom.

Although the Partnership for 21st Century Skills provides a number of resources and ideas that help support teachers within the classroom, I do have issue with a number of stances presented on the website.  The most concerning area, I found was the posting of statistics regarding how well schools are preparing students for the workforce.  Although I do feel that it critical for schools to instill character, values and basic social norms, schools are mirroring the desires of community stakeholders.  In the past, when schools have attempted to build in character education and other programs, the stakeholder’s object sighting that it oversteps into the realm of the family.  When schools attempt to instill accountability for behavior, attendance or timeliness, the stakeholders object and assert that the school is being unnecessarily biased towards a child.  Schools cannot be the lone facilitator for the moral education and academic education of children.  The burden of responsibility must fall upon all stakeholders and community members.                

 Reflecting upon the information from the website will help me to improve upon my own teaching practices.  I think that through further exploration I will be able to integrate 21st century skills in a more natural manner without it appearing forced or as an after thought.  By exposing my students to the 4 C’s on a more consistent basis, allows my students to be better equipped to participate in a global economy. When you integrate critical thinking skills and promote various forms of communication into the learning of students, you not only improve their global understanding but you also improve your practices as a teacher.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2011). Retrieved from:

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). A report and mile guide for 21st century skills. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved from

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Integrating Technology into my classroom

As an electives teacher, the technology needs of my classroom appears more as an after thought for my building.  I have been blessed though with an amazing media specialist who has been able to advocate and procure a variety of technology tools that I can now utilize within my classroom. As an educator, I have always strived to incorporate various forms of technology within my classroom to enhance student engagement, increase rigor and create relevance for my students. Reflecting though upon my current practices, I have found that I have been neglecting virtual classrooms and web based tools.

In my district we have access to school fusion tools and moddle, both of which creates an ideal forum for developing an interactive learning community.  At one point I was diligently uploading videos, and resources to my moddle and fusion pages, but somewhere along the way I just stopped.  I am not sure if this was a result of my own complacency or the lack of student response to the resources.  Regardless it is a practice I need to get back into the habit of doing.  On the fusion and moddle sites I was able to differentiate activities based upon the learning needs of my numerous sections.  On my sites I uploaded videos, quizzes, flashcards, lecture notes, PowerPoints, homework, due dates ect.  I wanted it to be a resource for students to either receive support outside of school when completing homework and assignments or to accelerate learning for students.

In the future I want to add a forum for learning communities to complete group projects and assignments.  In my class we engage in web quests and other project based activities, and one of the biggest issues I have iscreating opportunities for the groups to interact.  Even though I provide class time, there needs to be platform that allows students to interact outside of school.  What I like about the virtual learning community is I can monitor participation and the dialogs occurring between students.

Regardless of how I integrate technology into my plans, I need to have an accountability piece built in to my instruction.  Accountability applies not only to the students but for myself.  Technology application needs to be an expectation for my students and not just a supplemental resource.  I need to ensure that it is as critical to student learning and engagement as textbooks, materials and discussions are in the brick and mortar setting.  To do this, fusion and moodle must then become part of the assignment and I must monitor it on a more frequent basis.