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Seventh Grade science teacher from Orinda, California

From Supe to Staff to Students: C21st made real

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Hi George, I agree re. the C21st window dressing that cool tech in the classroom provides. Without a fundamental shift in the ways our school organizations operate, I also feel all this tech could be used as expensive worksheet and text replacements.

3m, Google, IDEO and hosts of other innovative organizations highlighted in TED talks, in Chip and Dan Heath's book "Switch" treat their staff in a way that encourages innovation. We want our kids to be innovative? We have to train/encourage/support teachers to be too. How we learn and are treated trickles down to the classroom.

This is not top-down management, it's distributed leadership, it's about allowing risk-taking and experimentation with highly trained staff who are united in their goals for students. It's been and being done in expensive and hugely successful private schools. How shall we implement such a system for all kids?

Owner of Kids Connect Preschool & Child Care Facility

21st Century Learning - My interpretation

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Hi George,

I am in the process of opening a preschool that I've named Kids Connect. I do refer to my school as "21st Century Learning" where my philosophy is to integrate technology into the curriculum and thematic lesson plans. I also include the "4Cs" - collaboration, communication, critical thinking, & creativity as part of the philosophy because with my constructivist outlook on learning, children learn by engaging, not by the teacher delivering instruction. I understand that you are not fond of the term because the methods on teaching children are always changing so what may be sufficient for now may not be so in 50 years.

For me, "21st Century Learning" means keeping up with current research on early child education and networking with other educational professionals on facilitating meaningful experiences for children to engage in. So, at this moment we may be introduced to specific types of learning experiences, however, the research may deviate from what we are now practicing to something greater.

I think your frustration lies in that there has been technology integration and classrooms changing their structure, yet teaching methods are remaining the same. Besides saving trees by removing textbooks from the classroom, purchasing iPads are wasteful unless teachers are educated on HOW to effectively incorporate the use of an iPad (professional development day?). I have purchased 2 ipads for my school (it's a small facility) and have been researching different educational apps and their purpose. Some of them allow students to use the app to test specific skills, yet communicate with their peers while critically thinking. For example, the ScreenChomp app allows students to draw a problem and record a video as they draw and speak to explain the problem to a friend in need of a breakdown. The video can be shared multiple ways.

Bottom line is that as educators, we remain to adhere to following state standards as we prepare our children for future. We can achieve this by creating meaningful experiences where children can make connections to what they are exposed to, and utilize this information outside of the classroom. If we are informed on updated practices and the effective/ineffective methods to teaching, it is our choice to implement these methods. Every child learns differently, but children certainly learn as they collaborate, communicate, critically think, and begin to create a purposeful interpretation of the world around us. Is that not what we do as adults and within our careers?

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