Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Web 2.0 Decisions

My class is getting settled into some routines and I feel like I am getting grounded back in the realities of teaching in an elementary special education classroom. I really want to integrate Web 2.0 tools into reading and writing as much as I can. I have started to work on several different ideas for using these types of tools with my students.

First, I decided that I should begin with student email use. Now, I know this is not a Web 2.o tool, but this is where I think I should begin. Reason one is that this is one of the benchmarks in the Information and Technology Literacy Curriculum as well as being one of the most commonly used communication tools...for adults. I thought I could start by having my students each send an email to a parent or other important adult explaining what they are learning in my classroom. By giving them some practice with email, I can teach them some etiquette as well as supervise the communication. Once we move on to blogs and wikis, I will again reinforce the etiquette skills we learned when using email. Another reason for choosing email first is because some of the Web 2.0 tools that I want to use with students requires an email address for account creations. By teaching and using email first, we will be ready for this.

Our school uses the free Gaggle accounts for student email. Our new library media aide has setup my students in the system and added them to my teacher account for supervision. I plan to set the accounts so that they can only email the class at this point. I need to do some lessons with them on proper email etiquette and plan to have them practice within our group for a week or two. I looked for a long time for lessons on email etiquette for elementary students. All I could find was for adults. I will adapt what I found for my students and post it on my site for others to use.

Do you know of any resources for teaching what email is and what email etiquette is? How about some project ideas? Please share if you have ideas!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Planning for the 21st Century

Often I hear educators discussing 21st Century learning, particularly now that the Partnership for 21st Century Learning has released their framework and many states are now officially adopting it as a basis for school change.

There are many great thinkers out there trying to guide schools and professionals as they change from industrial revolution teaching and learning to global learning. Ian Jukes, from the Info Savvy group, does a great job explaining to others WHY we need to change what we do in schools because even kids' brains have physically changed due to all the media that they now use. Marc Prensky's "Digital Immigrants, Digital Natives" concept is hard to disagree with. David Thornburg, from the Thornburg Center, has been speaking for 10 years about the need to change education. This list can go on and on with all the great thinkers and planners of today.

It is time for the educational field to move beyond discussing 21st Century learning to implementing change in education. I have spent the past 10 years reading, listening and studying these great thinkers and planners. Change in education boils down to a few key components that will change education so that students are engaged and teachers can achieve their goal of preparing students for the future....their futures. The key components needed to change 20th Century teaching and learning into 21st Century teaching and learning include a strong base in student-centered problem-based learning centered around real-world problems that focus on creating content for real audiences using a variety of technology and non-technology communication and collaboration methods.

What is your school doing to move teaching and learning into the 21st Century? What has really changed in the past 20 years? What are the plans for changing your school in the next 10 years?