Collaborating, Communicating, Connecting – The 21st Century Teacher

Attention in education today is all about the 21st century learner.  But who is thinking about the 21st century teacher?  Shelley Wright is in her blog post The Nuts & Bolts of 21st Century Teaching.  Ms.Wright came up with a creative way to teach a difficult subject, the Holocaust.  Instead of traditional teaching, she “flipped” the process and had the students discover the learning necessary to design and create their own Holocaust museum.  Albeit a difficult and challenging process, her 10th graders tackled the job with enthusiasm.  Then they hit the proverbial bump in the road.  And she waited. And waited. And waited.  For us as teachers, that is one of the most difficult things to do.  When we see our students struggling, we want to jump in and “save” them. But are we really doing what is best for them at that point? Doing things for the students when they struggle robs them of the ability to discover their own brilliance and creativity.

3d-thinking-mind-mapThe creative process Ms. Wright’s class undertook reminded me of my 6th grade student teaching experience when the students created mind maps in Social Studies.  The students separated into three main topic areas and were given large pieces of butcher paper to design their individual mind map.  They researched their topic and collaborated on how their part would look and then it occurred to members of one group….how are the  pieces going to fit together?  One member of  that group went to each of the other groups, communicated their ideas, and collaborated on how they were going to connect the pieces of the mind map together.   This occurred in my first week in 6th grade and it was such a rush to see the kids reach this epiphany all on their own.  It was a beautiful thing!

Having the students take ownership of their education is a cornerstone of 21st century learners. Collaboration is a cornerstone of the 21st century teacher.  Whether modeling and facilitating collaboration among our students or collaborating with our peers, it is essential to developing critical thinking skills being stressed by educators today.  Innovation – another new buzz word – is required of students and teachers.  Gone are the days of worksheets and rote learning.  Technology, creativity, experimentation, hands-on…this is 21st century learning.  This is 21st century teaching.  I’m on board, are you?

Stay tuned…


We hold these truths to be self-evident…

declaration of independenceAs frightening it is for me to think about it…I think I’m becoming a history geek. Well, maybe “geek” is too strong. But, after student teaching in a 6th grade Social Studies class I am hooked. So, naturally my favorite blog was by Glenn Wiebe called History Tech.

Glenn is a history teacher turned technology geek and curriculum specialist. He has a lot of great ideas for using all types of technology to teach History. One of my favorite blogs he wrote was about making a Facebook page on Abraham Lincoln. I LOVED this idea. Any historical figure could be studied this way. Glenn teaches how to create the dummy Facebook page and gives ideas how to use the page. The link to this post is below.

This got me thinking. In Facebook you can create events and invite people to them. This feature could be used for studying significant events in history as well. By having the students respond and post to these pages, it can become a flipped classroom (my second favorite blog). Pictures (primary sources), videos, and linked pages can be shared with the students.

Another of my favorite posts by Glenn is using primary sources in the classroom. I’ve also posted that link below. What is particularly cool is that he has posted a Primary Sources page with a ton of links to primary source websites. My Mentor Teacher, Nicole, used primary sources so I naturally fell into that same practice when doing my takeover weeks. Primary sources were a great way for the students to critically think about what they were seeing instead of seeing it through someone else’s eyes. I’ve included that link below too.

Glenn is also really interested in video games and has a link to a whole presentation on how to integrate video games into teaching. I need to think about this more because I’m not totally sold here. Glenn has a list of games and how they relate to Bloom’s Taxonomy. While I get this part, I’m not sold on how it relates to “content knowledge.”

While the History Tech is primarily History focused, I think it would be interesting and fun to try to apply some of these ideas to other subject areas.

I mentioned my second favorite blogs were by the Flipped Learning Network. I explored here because I wanted to learn more about flipped classrooms. Again, I return to my Mentor Teacher, Nicole. The last few days of my time in her classroom, she was trying out the flipped classroom concept. She gave the students reading assignments and questions to answer at home to introduce some topics around the Civil War. This was my first exposure to anything like a flipped classroom. I want to read more of the blogs to get a good understanding of how this works, especially since I will have a flipped classroom assignment in ED554. I’ll admit; however, I am not looking forward to videotaping myself. After all, the camera adds 10 pounds!

Stay tuned…