Tuesday, March 28, 2017

21st century skills

We often come across mentions of 21st century skills, especially in the realm of teaching technology We are sick and tired of hearing the name "21st century skills." What does it really mean? Twenty years from now, will the skills we teach in school still be the same we are teaching today? How about in 80 years, in 2097? Same skills? If so, then great, let's keep on calling them 21st century skills. If you are like us and think that these will change, then we really ought to come up with a better name for what we're doing right now. The 21st century started 17 years ago. Almost 20% of it is already done. It's time to move away from "21st century" anything.

Imagine educators gathering in 1918 at the end of the First World War, and bemoaning our loss of competitiveness against other countries. We ought to teach 20th century skills so that they can do better and boost test scores. Now imagine these educators getting together in 1988. Same skills? Same techniques? Probably not. Same name, 20th century skills? It should be, it's still the 20th century!

Let's retire the name already. Call them skills for success, skills for life, whatever. But stop calling them 21st century skills!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Alan November Comes to Moultonborough

On Monday, February 6, 2017, the Moultonborough School District welcomed Alan November and his team for a full day of improving teaching and learning through better use of technology. A world renowned educator and leader in using educational technology in schools and businesses, November was by Lainie Rowell and Tom Driscoll. Rowell is an independent professional developer and consultant who has worked closely with educators to improve teaching and student learning through innovative ways. Driscoll is the Director of Educational Technology for the Bristol Warren Regional School District in Rhode Island and he is interested in fundamentally transforming teaching by personalizing student learning through the use of innovative applications of emerging technologies.

The day began when November, Rowell and Driscoll met with students from the Academy and from the Central School. November strongly believes that students should actively participate in every professional development event that take place in schools. Ultimately, professional development aims to improve teachers to better help students owning their own learning. Students performed Google searches for him and demonstrated that they did not know how to efficiently use a search engine.

November then presented a keynote to the staff and community of Moultonborough School District where he elaborated on the skills necessary for each student to successfully locate, engage, consume, and create information online.

The remainder of the day was broken up in three sessions: One for grades K-4, led by Rowell; one for grades 5-8, led by Driscoll; and one for grades 9-12, led by November. These sessions featured in-depth looks at apps, web pages, and software that teachers can use right away to enhance the impact of their lessons on students and by switching ownership of the learning towards the students themselves.

At the conclusion of the day, we surveyed staff and students on the presentations. Feedback was overwhelming positive. Staff found many things that were valuable about the day. Some comments include "Real life applications for our age group from a speaker who has taught at the same age level" and "being introduced to new tech tools/sites I did not know about."

One staff member summed it up when she stated that the best part about the day was "finding out how much more I want to know! Being with the whole District and learning together with highly and inspirational qualified presenters."

Where do we go from here

Our next step is determining where we go next. We were planning on working with Kim Marshall on our next professional development day on March 17th, but after witnessing the teachers' inspiration to introduce more technological resources in their classroom, we now we plan on more time exploring the technologies that was presented.