“21st Century Learning” Meets Very Confused Teaching Faculty
Posted by newbie-tchr at 11:22 am in Firsts, Other teachers, Web finds that work, Wondering


This past week was my first time in my student teaching placement, and was full of classroom decorating (so fun), syllabus planning and lots, and lots, of teacher workshops. The school district I’m in has embraced what they call “21st Century Teaching,” aka catching up in technology and incorporating it in the classroom. (Loved it, great idea – but I do think that if I heard wiki one more time I would have poked my eye out.) The workshops they put on were amazingly awesome, and I have to admit that they were far from what I expected. The teachers in my team had spent hours telling me funny, but true, stories of how bad workshops in years past had been, and even they were surprised to see what the district had put together.

For the most part, the presentations and workshops were put on by two very respected companies, November Learning and Stratalogica. The speaker, Alan November, was both practical and motivating – he even had the teachers try out a lot of the tools he was discussing during his presentation. The workshops preceding were equally informative, and I’ll include links to some of the tools he offered at the bottom of this post. Take one, pass it on:)

Beyond my own infatuation with the workshops, there were two different reactions to this I noticed: half the faculty was really excited, the other half looked ready to die. I know that technology can be a difficult thing to learn – my mom still calls me asking how to turn the DVD player on. I’ve been out of the house for 5 years and am 3,000 miles away. Has she stopped calling? No. Why learn how to turn it on when someone else can do it for you – even if it’s over the phone? So from personal experience with my lovely momma, I get it. What surprised me was that when it came time to pick workshops, all the panic-strickened faculty avoided the technology options like the plague. Why is it that when presented with an opportunity to learn about the clearly unknown, these people were the first to bail? In all seriousness, if you know the answer – don’t hesitate to comment, I’m still curious.

The second thing noticed was more about how the process of learning to be a teacher has changed, thanks to technology. Only a 5-6 years removed from the eldest kids we’re teaching, my cohort of fellow student teachers probably qualify in that category of “21st century learners.” In grad school, there is a large focus on incorporating technology – we even had to take a “Teaching with technology” class to graduate. Technology is incorporated in almost every class, using SMARTboards to teach, online assessments and collaboration, even clickers in class for formative assessments. Technology has seeped into teacher education, making it impossible for new teachers such as myself to picture educating students without it. Taking into consideration the reaction of some of the teachers in the field to technology – it will definitely be an interesting dynamic to watch.

For those curious, here are some of the resources given to us during this week – I highly recommend checking them out and seeing if you can use them in your classroom!

  1. http://www.polleverywhere.com/ – great way to use kid’s obsession with cell phones to your advantage!

  2. Titan Pad – This is great for chats with large groups of people, but be careful – without oversight, can lead to a lot of off topic discussions. This review from TeachersFirst describes it in greater detail.

  3. PrimaryPad – same thing as Titanpad but allows drawing!

  4. Khan Academy – endless resources, the link leads to another review from TeachersFirst

  5. Itunes U – in your Itunes store, this resource is towards the bottom of the page and hosts thousands of podcasts and any and all academic subjects.

  6. Maps of War – great for us History teachers!

  7. Student News Action – a really great place to find resources from all over the world on a variety of topics

“21st Century Learning” Meets Very Confused Teaching Faculty has 5 Comments

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  1. Great sites to mention. You’ll be glad to know that TeachersFirst has either already reviewed them or is in the process. We like to “pass it on,” too!

  2. Welcome to teaching! Glad to see your enthusiasm and thoughtfulness. The tools won’t work the way you expect them to – but nothing in the classroom goes quite the way you expect. I’ve found it helps to always have a plan b (for when the network goes down, for example – and for when the copier isn’t working so you can’t make that handout). Enjoy!

  3. Welcome to high school teaching. I’m sure you will be great. A few bits of advice: your first year will be outrageously hard (in a good way), you won’t get it right all the time (and that’s OK!) and don’t let that subset of experienced but technophobic teachers get you down ( I used to be one! ). They do have one point–technology is not a panacea–but, as you know, those resources can be valuable. Take all the help offered to you- you don’t have to use everything, but being willing to learn from your senior colleagues will buy you a lot of goodwill. As for your students, I bet you will want to adopt many of them. Seventeen-year-olds can be just as needy and infuriating as middle-schoolers, but they can also be mature, engaged and surprisingly wise. Thanks for committing to a profession that always needs more dedicated young people, and the best of luck to you!

  4. Teachers who fear tech avoid workshops teaching it for a variety of reasons, but one of the more common is that they are doubtful of their ability to learn it well enough fast enough to not look like fools in front of their students when they try to use it and it doesn’t work correctly.

    No one likes looking foolish (the same reason some students don’t raise their hands to answer questions), but a teachers admitting that they don’t know something and inviting students to teach it to them can be a powerful tool to stimulate student engagement and build a classroom community in which EVERYONE learns.

    I always tell my middle school students that they know as much as I do, just about different things. I teach them social studies and they teach me about music, fashion, technology and more. That sense of mutual teaching, mutual learning and shared inquiry is exciting and productive.

    Good luck in your teaching career!

  5. I am impressed with your blog and recommended sites. You are truly a digital native, watching other digital natives and digital immigrants!