21st Century Teacher Toolkit

The world of technology has brought vast changes to just about every area of our lives.  From the devices, to the communication tools, to the ever expanding world of the internet, our world continues to change very rapidly.  The world of teaching and learning is no exception and as educators we are faced with this ever changing landscape.  Today, many apply the term “21st century”  to new methods, skills, understandings, and ways of thinking that define what education in a connected world should be.  As educators, our task is to prepare our students for this exciting and fast paced world, and as such this requires us reimagine the role of an educator.

What does 21st century teaching look like?  Sound like?  How is it different than the past?
It was these questions that led to the foundation of this blog post.  During our most recent professional learning session, several teams of the teachers of Pen Argyl Area School District met and discussed their views on what characteristics, skills, or  dispositions are important to 21st century teaching.  This list has formed our 21st Century Teacher Toolkit.  

  1. CD Team Creativity: 
    Teaching styles should accommodate various learning styles, set time aside for students to work creatively, allow for choice, and provide differentiated approaches to subject comprehension. Students should be encouraged to approach thinking/problem solving “outside the box”.
  2. 7th Grade Team:
    Open Minded/Flexible:  It’s important that as teachers we are willing to try new things with technologies and that we are willing to take risks with unique assignments and lessons. Teachers also need to be willing to adjust to new technology and the issues that come with working with technology as well.    

    1. http://www.teachhub.com/teaching-strategies-what-21st-century-educator-looks: As the link above mentions, teachers need to be willing to work with whatever is thrown their way and make is a  meaningful learning moment.
  3. 6th grade team:
    Collaborate and Communicate – By use of technology, students are able to collaborate with each other regardless if at school or at home. Teachers can provide guidelines and rubrics to students that are readily accessible.  In addition, feedback from teachers/peers can be immediate and constant to guide towards success.  
  4. The Outsiders:
    Being able to facilitate issues with chromebooks or lessons (Skyward, Google, CDT and Study Island testing, etc.)  
  5. 8th grade team: Know your Audience:
    Being a 21st Century teacher means we need to be aware that we have 21st Century students. We need to be aware that the ways they communicate which are very different from what the teacher may have been raised with. The students are using shared GoogleDocs to speak to one another, talking to one another in different classrooms. We need to stress the permanency of the communication and that consequences can come from these not-so-private on a school network conversations. We also need to be aware of how pop culture affects how our students think and that certain appropriate and inappropriate behaviors may come from these outside influences. Our job is to help guide them to the best use of these “cool” things to make their learning fun, relevant, current, and yet appropriate.
    LINK: 13 Essential 21st Century Skills for Today’s Students
    LINK:How 21st Century Thinking Is Just Different
    LINK: Today’s tech: How kids communicate in and out of school
  6. As a reflective teaching process
    Use of technology in our classroom isn’t just limited to showing new material or practicing, but can also be used for us to measure growth and achievement. As teachers, it isn’t enough for us to simply plan a lesson using the latest technology and present it. We must reflect upon how the lesson went after it is taught. This involves asking ourselves questions such as “what went well? How did the students react? What could be improved? How might the students get more out of the lesson?” We can also ask our students to reflect on their experiences with using the technology in the lesson. How did they feel the lesson went? Do they feel the technology aided/enhanced their understanding of the topic taught? Do they have any ‘technological suggestions’ to improve the lesson? (yes, sometimes our students may be more technologically savvy than some of us!) Our use of technology in class today can help guide our teaching in class tomorrow if we are willing to reflect and evaluate.
    Link: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept09/vol67/num01/What-Would-Socrates-Say%C2%A2.aspx
  7. Link:High School:  Chromebooks are not taken out unless there is a specific assignment during the class period


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