I am pretty addicted to great thoughts from people around the globe who are really embracing smart, authentic ways to engage 21st century students. Here is another round of what I've found. I feel so lucky to be able to learn from so many people.
Wesley Fryer shares the story of his son's Thursday Folder and the many, many worksheets that his son gets in a good school. A great read with some powerful photos to let us know just how much time some kids are spending on worksheets. I think, as teachers, we often justify this by knowing that most of our day is more authentic. But I think time is a factor. Why would we waste even 5 minutes of a child's time on a worksheet when they can be thinking, creating, and communicating. Every choice we make as teachers is a choice about how we spend our time in schools. For every worksheet that students don't do, they can do something meaningful.
I was excited to read about the "Just Write" Celebration at Georgetown Elementary School. The school is having a week long celebration of their writing and using lots of tools to get their writing out there. Each class is writing and using Lulu to sell published books to parents, etc. Many of the books filled with student writing can be downloaded free. The principal, Theresa Reagan, is behind this initiative. It is fun to spend time reading some of the student writing. A great school wide celebration!
Will Richardson has a great post entitled One School's Journey to Online Social Learning.. Embedded in the post is a great brochure about Web-Based Social and Collaborative Learning. It isn't a quick read because it is packed with the information on various tools and the ways they can be used. A valuable resource.
I have been doing a lot of thinking on the writing process of the 21st Century and was happy to see this post by Bill Bass.. In preparing for their own district Film Festival, Bill and colleagues visited Effingham, Illinois to see the 6th Annual AHA Film Festival. Sounds like the videos were amazing. Bill's reflections remind us that good teaching, no matter what the tool, is about process.
Tea for [Web] 2.0 (Don't you just LOVE the name of this blog??) has a great post on Professional Development, creating a buzz about new tools and more. A great read with great insights about how to move forward.
Wesley Fryer shared a great link on Twitter entitled What Makes a Good Project? It is a short article that will start lots of conversations. I think it is a good reminder that projects--whether they use new tools or not--have to be worthwhile.
Thinking a lot about new tools for writing and communicating, I am anxious to order and read this new book, co edited by Kevin at Kevin's Meandering Mind. The book TEACHING THE NEW WRITING, is due out in May. It is so nice to see writing experts taking on this topic.
I finished reading THE ELEMENT by Ken Robinson over spring break. I loved this review by Angela Maiers for several reasons. She hits the important things about the book and she has used a slide-show format to review the book. For as many book reviews we do on this site, maybe we need to play with some new formats!
There is a great post at Education Week called "What is Your Department Discussing and Doing?" . Ryan Bretag talks about how critical both conversations and action are to moving forward. He also gives us several links to content organizations' position statements that relate to 21st Century Learning. The links are an invaluable resource and can start some great conversations that can then move to action.
Another post at Education Week/LeaderTalk that really made me think ahead was "New Paradigms Needed" by Pete Reilly. In this post, he argues that we need a shift in the ways we envision classrooms and deploy technology to our students. He says, "That new paradigm is a classroom environment that allows each student to explore, communicate, collaborate, analyze, publish, and pursue their interests, passions, and curiosities. In order to do this they need to have “ubiquitous access” to technology."
Finally, the article "Science is Failing to Inspire Some" is a wake-up call to how testing and the current skill/drill environment is is meaning that more kids are learning to hate science. This is an interesting article from the science community.