Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Evaluating 21st Century Skills

I found the partnership for 21st century skills website very informative. The first thing you see when you view the website is the mission and goal of the site which is very well stated. The website was very colorful and grabbed your attention. The links were clearly labeled, easy to understand, and the entire website was easy to navigate through. It offered a variety of resources for everyone including educators, policy makers, community leaders, and parents. The website also provides several communication methods for collaboration and interaction including an organization newsletter, twitter page link, webinars, and video presentations. The information on this website clearly defines how important 21st century skills are in today’s society and offers valuable information on how these skills can be addressed and taught.

One piece of information on the website that I found very insightful and beneficial was the MILE Guide Self-Assessment Survey. This survey asked a range of questions that evaluated how effective your school and district is in addressing and teaching 21st century skills. The survey provides you with a  breakdown of how effective your school and district is in the areas of student knowledge and skills, education support system, education leadership, policy making, partnering, and continuous improvement. For each area rating, there is an explanation of what these results mean and suggestions on how these areas can be improved.  This information gave me insight how effectively my school addresses 21st century skills and how we can build on these skills.

Under the Learning Environment section, there is a link entitled Virtual Schools and 21st Century Skills. In this article there is a statement that reads:

“Eighty-four percent of employers say K-12 schools are not doing a good job of preparing students for the workplace “

I cannot speak for grades K-8 but I do know the high schools in our district, which teach grades 9-12, have certain courses and classes that focus on workplace skills and development. In our county we have a division called career and technical education. This department is made up of a group of educators that prepare and equip students with the skills they need to secure, maintain, and excel in the workplace. This department offers courses that teach basic workplace and job skills such as keyboarding, computer applications, small business, and business law. There are also courses that focus on a particular skill or trade such as medical careers, accounting, early child care, auto mechanics, and electrical trades. It is true that every job is different; every employer operates their business in a different way and looks for different skills and talents in each employer. However, I disagree with this statement because I do believe that most educators and most school systems provide students with some type of workplace preparation or at least the skills they need to enter the work force.

I believe that the website can be a great resource for me and many other educators. I believe this website offers a great overview and analysis of the 21st century skills needed in today’s society and how these skills can be accessed and applied to any classroom or curriculum. There is something on this website for every type of learner and a variety of different tools, suggestion, and recommendations for how to best teach these skills depending on our students and classroom environment. The information on this website implies that if students are supported with a system of a healthy learning environment, effective instruction, and a variety of assessment then they can effectively learn and master 21st century skill concepts.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The 21st Century Disconnect

The multiple advances in technology are causing vast changes to not only our classroom structure but to society as well. Many businesses are using technology to reshape how their businesses are organized and ran.  More teachers are using technology in the classroom today to help prepare students for the technology they will use when they leave the classroom and enter the business world.  Regardless of the setting, weather in the classroom or conference room, technology is being used as a communication method and as a way to make things easier.

For example, in my classroom students learned about the six types of electronic communication.  Students are already familiar with email and text messages but with today’s technology we also discussed web cameras and video chatting sites such as Skype and Oovoo. This new form of technology and electronic communication will prepare them for the business world technology example of video conferencing. CEO’s and business people hold meetings daily regardless of their location thanks to the video chatting software and cameras we have today.

In my classroom, the changes in technology have taught me to incorporate basic computer skills into my curriculum since almost everything in the business world is done by using a computer. For example, I have a computer program called Microtype that teaches basic keyboard skills such as typing the home row keys and how to type in general. This program is divided up in lessons which are a class requirement for my students because in today’s business world at least 80% of jobs require basic keyboarding skills. Even a cashier at a grocery store uses a keyboard to perform their duties.  If you prefer to go through self-checkout instead of waiting in line you still use a touch screen computer. If I can teach students the basic computer skills then they can use what they have learned to keep up with technology and all its advances.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Utilizing Blogs in the Classroom

 The advances in today’s technology allow us to communicate with anyone and everyone in the world regardless of our location. We can communication through blogs, discussion boards, emails, or video chat. Technology can also be used to enhance any educational experience.  I would use my blog as a reflection and feedback forum. My blog would be a place where my students and I could reflect on a lesson, classroom activity, review what has been taught, and most importantly provide suggestions and advice on what could be done to improve. This type of communication would not only enhance the lesson, but the overall classroom and learning experience as well.  In order to become an effective teacher and ensure students are learning, it is important to reflect on any lesson to determine what worked or went well, what did not work, and how you can improve or enhance the next lesson. I teach Business Law and Microsoft Office 2010 to high school students.  I use technology in my classroom for variety of reasons. For starters, it is a part of my curriculum, but I also use technology because my students use technology daily outside of my classroom. Nearly all of my students walk around with an iPod, iPad, laptop, a smart phone or some type of electronic device. Because different types of technology interest my students it is a great learning tool to incorporate these technology interests into my lesson so I can gain my student’s attention and help them learn.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Technology in a Day.....

What would you do without technology? Have you ever thought about how much technology you use in a day? From our alarm clocks, cell phones, laptops, car alarms, and ipods; technology is all around us. Thought for today: think about how much technology you use in a day and what would you do if this technology no longer existed....