Transforming Education for the 21st Century

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How is your school preparing students for the 21st century?

Many school today look no different than when our parents went to school. It is unfortunate that outside of school students operate in a world where they are interacting, publishing, and producing for hundreds or even thousands, yet as they enter the school building, they have to power down and produce work usually for an audience of one or at best some.

What is your school doing to help bring education and students out of the dark ages and into the decade-old 21st century?

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We have a large portion o four course offerings in online form.
All teachers maintain moodle course pages that are a source of all course assignments and resources. Students also submit a large portion of their work online. There are also online content providers that we use for a number of our strictly online courses: Compass/Odyssey provides our content for Global, US History, Living Environment, and Chemistry courses. We have student accounts from Rosetta Stone to provide our foreign language courses - some of the more popular languages (Spanish, French, and Mandarin) also receive some live tutorial time with an in-school tutor. There is quite a bit cooking.....
Our school as it has developed has taken the steps to provide the teachers and students with as much innovative technology as possible such as laptop carts with both mac and pc computers, and smartboards etc... Many of our teachers are using this technology in addition to blogging, website design, and google docs to create interactive lessons that not only go on within the classroom but outside of the classroom as well. We have also created a dedicated technology team that is driven towards creating and finding ways to continue to develop our school into a 21st century school.
Christopher, I agree with you about having choices. I am an off and on blogger myself, but my greatest concern with my students is that they really don't know, left to their own devices, how to connect in a meaningful, intellectual way with others. They can make a comment or complete a post online but if they don't immediately get response, they don't know how to develop a conversation. They have not yet learned or had the online experience, or the life experience to know how to develop and share ideas online.

I agree with Lisa that finding a passion and finding others who share the passion is important. It validates their very essence of existence by sharing a passion online. What happens though, when the tree falls in the forrest and no one hears? What happens when teens post and no one responds? Yes, it's fine for someone to journal for personal reflection but most teens do want to communicate. The faces of students who get online response is something to remember for a long time. Our challenge is to lead them on that path of learning to network for valuable communication, collaboration and action!

Christopher M. Casal said:
I think it's a tough question to answer. Just because you can publish to thousands should you?

I teach my students the core skills they need. How to navigate a program, to be able to teach themselves a new one on their own. I teach them the basics of creating, editing, and formatting. I teach them the basics of the internet, how to get places and how to figure out what they want, how to get it and why they can't get where they want if they encounter a problem.

I then leave it up to them to decide how they want to use that knowledge outside. I fell as educators we need to give them the basic skills so they can publish to thousands, if they want to. But what about the technologically advanced student who doesn't want the world to know? I challenge them too, knowing it is ok to create for oneself.

I think the key, or main concern, needs to be teaching them the core skills. Having the basics will allow them to decide how they want to the world to see them in this digital age. Knowing how to blog and blogging are two vastly different things. Just because someone can put words on a blog doesn't mean they are "prepared for the 21st century". Just as the absence of a blog doesn't mean they aren't prepared.

To me preparation is about exactly that, preparing the skills. I prepare them. I leave the execution to them.
I work with Teaching Matters and am helping to coordinate the learning walks. I am here to learn your priorities and help set up agendas for the school visits.
Though I can't speak for my entire school, a group of colleagues and I have been working to integrate blogging into our ELA classrooms. In doing so, we seamlessly fold the skills needed to produce, format, and publish content online without actually changing the types of assignments that we would traditionally give.

Though most of our students are digital natives who seem far more comfortable in the wilds of the web than we are, many have never used a computer for more than MySpacing or instant messaging, and thus are nearly illiterate when it comes to using technology in a professional or academic context. As most jobs and virtually all institutions of higher learning require extensive, it is imperative that our students gain comfort and familiarity not only with using technology, but doing so formally and strategically.
Also, here's my class blog:
Our school is using Google Apps for Education site incorporating Google Docs, blogs, wikis, Twitter and online research using a variety of databases and online resources.

Students are asked to submit their work online and communicate using their school email, chat and blogs. Teachers have been developing their web pages to communicate with students and families and to extend learning beyond the school day and classroom.

It is a work in progress, but we are moving in the right direction.
By creating more of a collaborative work environment by using such tools as a wiki, Google Docs, a blog, etc. Our parents certainly did not have these....
Many teachers have created blogs and wikis for their students to post work on. Our school newspaper is now online, with access shortcuts on every computer. Teachers are also using Google docs with their students to foster collaboration among students.
east bronx academy has distributed a netbook to every student in grades 6 through 8
We are working on a grant to purchase new technology equipment such as smartboards and new computers along with other technologies. We are also getting some of our students involved in multimedia projects (movie production).
Our school has taken major strides towards 21 century teaching. We have installed smartboards in many of our classrooms. We have a nice sized computer room, which is used by the students twice a week. At least one computer has been installed in all of our classrooms. A wiki has been made and is used on a daily basis. Our grades are monitored 24 hours a day with our online SIS system which can be viewed by students and parents. Our program continues to grow on a daily basis.

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