This post combines two pieces that I pulled together recently — one for a mini-grant proposal from a teaching website and another for the YPulse Wired Teaching Award (where I was a finalist).
For the minigrant, I was asked to write about what I think about “21st Century Readiness” and also, if I were to a video documenting my thoughts, what would it look like?
Young people compose all of the time, although it often happens outside of our classroom. They are texting in short-hand language that some adults find unnerving. They are surfing the Net. They are creating and sharing videos. They are “reading” video games and navigating information, and then using that information to inform the “story” of the game. Some are on Facebook and other social networking sites. Unfortunately, many educators don’t view this world as composing and writing. They erect walls between home and school. But I see this world outside of school as a possibility for learning that we cannot ignore. If my students are to be ready for the future, then they need to understand the platforms and networks which are they use. A readiness for 21st Century means being taking a critical stance, understanding the world in the midst of technological change, and adapting in order to achieve goals and success. As teachers, we have to realize that the exact skills we teach right now might not be applicable in the future. But if we can educate our students on how to work with others (even in online spaces, beyond a physical proximity); how to use inquiry as a path forward towards understanding; how to use technology for their own means; and how to always be critical and asking questions, then we have done much to prepare them for the world they are entering. Readiness for the 21st Century means being unafraid of challenges that come with the world of digital media.
My movie idea:
My video story would begin with a bored student leaving school after a day of five-paragraph essay writing, and as soon as they hit the doors, they immediately take out some mobile device and the frame shows them composing a long message. We follow this young person around through the rest of the day (outside of school) as they use digital media and technology in authentic ways: making a video; using apps on a mobile device for some authentic purpose; composing and recording a mash-up song; etc. I imagine that the video story could also show a teacher opening up their eyes to the possibilities of what this student is doing, and turning to the student as a class leader to help develop a project that engages the class, so that the traditional writing activity (essay) is coupled with other possibilities (persuasive video, podcasts, etc.)
The YPulse Award asked us to contribute a short video on advice that we would give for educators when it comes to using technology. Here is my one-minute take on urging folks to get their own hands dirty before they bring a tool into the classroom.
Peace (in the sharing),