Are we educators literate for the 21st Century?

NCTE frameworkThis was one of my most memorable takeaways from the 2013 PETE & C conference held several weeks ago in Hershey, PA. It came from Rob Mancabelli’s presentation, “Learning in a networked world.” In the presentation, Rob referenced the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) position statement on the Definition of 21st Century Literacies. Here is the definition of 21st century literacies according to NCTE:

Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the 21st century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities, and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Active, successful participants in this 21st century global society must be able to

  • Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology;
  • Build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships with others so to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought;
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes;
  • Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information;
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts;
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.

Rob then asked the question, something to the effect,“How many of us would be literate by this definition?”

This is a particularly important question, especially as we develop a case for changing our schools. We can start by asking this question of our leaders because if it’s not happening with them, it’s never going to happen systemically. We can then ask this question of our teachers and our parents – of all the adults.

Thanks to Rob for sharing a powerful argument in the case for school change, particularly the need for the adults to change first.

Digital Age Parenting

This post has been cross-posted to SalisburySD.US.

distraction2A week ago, I shared a post asking parents and teachers how they manage digital distraction in the classroom and at home. We’ve had several replies in the comments section. Be sure to check them out and add yours if you haven’t already!

Over the past week, I’ve also discovered several outstanding online resources that provide additional tips and strategies. I’ll share one in this post and have linked to several more at the end. While these resources are focused on parents, we can all learn from them, parents and educators alike.

Susan Lucille Davis, parent to two daughters, shares three tips in A Letter to Parents of Digital Age Children. (This is such an outstanding post, I have decided to quote the main points.)

  1. Teach your children how to cross the digital street. – “Our young people are still learning their way around the digital landscape largely on their own — when what we need to do is confidently take them by the hand, show them how to look both ways, and cross the street with them — at least at first. That means staying up-to-date about digital safety, the rules of the road, and what’s going on in the neighborhood. Finally, we need to foster the kinds of personal relationships that encourage our kids to talk about where they are going and what they discover along the way (their successes as well as their mistakes) once we let them travel on their own.”
  2. Help your children pursue their passions online. – “Most parents I know bend over backwards to find the right camps and after-school programs to help their children become better musicians, athletes, actors, programmers, or artists. Just think how you might broaden their experience even more by guiding your children towards the tools and communities online that can help them learn the skills they most want to master.”
  3. Help your children manage their digital “brand.” – “As a parent, you are no doubt concerned about the possible missteps your children may take online as they (or their friends) share private information and media without thinking about the ugly repercussions that might result in the future. You may also want to take an active role in guiding your child as he or she documents the positive stuff — an emerging talent or an amazing self-motivated project, for instance — in an ad hoc digital portfolio. In the end, though, it’s the same thing: helping your children manage the digital “brand” that will follow them for life.”

And her “Final Plea” states so well the importance of all adults, educators and parents, working together to help children learn and thrive in a digital world.

“Helping children learn how to navigate their way in the digital world is a complicated business. Those of us in education need parents like you to be involved as active and open learners about the digital world, learners who can engage with us, their children and their children’s teachers, in much-needed conversations about digital matters. We need parents to act as important models and supports in their childrens’ explorations online. We need, parents and schools alike, to get past the fear that holds us back from connecting with young people when they need us most. Only then can we help them travel far and learn from the journey once they cross the street to encounter the world.”

For additional resources on the topic of digital generation parenting and managing distraction, consider visiting these links:

PETE & C 2013

The Pennsylvania Education Technology Expo and Conference (PETE & C) takes place this coming week. Here are the sessions I am tentatively planning to attend. I will blog about my adventures as the days go by.

Monday, February 11

8:00 – 10:00 AM Keynote: Jonathan Strickland – Separating the Signal from the Noise: The Challenges of Curation

Thanks to the Internet, we have more tools and data at our disposal than ever before. How do we sort the valuable information from everything else? Is the future of human intelligence tied to curating and evaluating data.

10:15 – 11:15 AM Customizing Education Using Agile Methods (Cocoa Suite 1)

Mass Customized Learning (MCL) offers student learning in an adaptive, on-demand, anytime-anywhere learning environment. Where do IU/District teams begin planning? How do teams identify the users of a complex MCL environment? Participants will be introduced to Agile and learn how the TIU used the method to address their district’s MCL needs.

11:30 – 12:30 AM Learning in a Networked World (Cocoa Suite 4/5)

The rapid emergence of networked learning challenges many of the fundamental assumptions about schools that we’ve held for over a hundred years. This thought-provoking presentation explains the power of personal learning networks and the changes they demand in our learning, our classrooms and our schools.

2:30 – 3:30 PM 60 in 60: 60 Web Tools in 60 Minutes (Trinidad)

Get ready for an hour packed with ways to enhance your classroom and school through web tools! Gain exposure to web applications designed to help differentiate instruction and integrate common core standards. Join the fun, watch as all 60 tools are revealed and leave with access to the wiki.

4:00 – 5:00 PM When the MOOC Revolution Comes to K12 (Hotel – Overlook)

In 2012, leading U.S. universities began offering MOOCs, Massively Open Online Courses, taught by some of their best professors, with the goal of providing nearly free courses to over one billion people. This summer, high school students completed 15,000 of these courses! K-12 teachers need to know about this high-quality, low-cost learning system.

Tuesday, February 12

8:00 – 9:15 AM Keynote: Aaron Sams – To Flip Or Not To Flip

Join this open and honest conversation with Flipped Learning pioneer Aaron Sams as he discusses when flipping a class is appropriate, when it is not, and how to flip your class effectively. The interactive session will also address many common misconceptions and concerns about the Flipped Classroom. Hear perspectives on when it is best for the teacher (or a team of teachers) to make the lessons, where do supplemental videos t in, using audio or video as feedback, and how students can contribute to the learning cycle or assignment via video.

9:45 – 12:00 noon Student Showcase

Students from Salisbury include Kelly Wetherhold’s students sharing The Media Edge and Michelle DeOliveira’s students sharing Challenge-based Learning.

10:45-11:45 AM Infographics: Analyze, Evaluate and Create (Cocoa Suite 2/3)

Infographics, visual representations of data, can play a critical role in developing students’ ability to understand and analyze information. Discover the qualities of effective infographics and the tools to help your students create their own. Come learn how and why infographics should be a part of your teaching and learning.

2:15 – 3:15 PM Gamification: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Empire B)

In this session, I will share the process I went through to gamify my keyboarding curriculum and fifth grade hero project. You will leave with a good idea of how to gamify your own classroom. I will also discuss how the first few months have gone.

3:45 – 4:45 PM 21st Century Skills Through Game Programming (Hotel – Garden Terrace East)

Engage your students like never before using YoYo Games Gamemaker software. This software allows students to express their creativity and originality. They can create games in any content area and the software is automatically differentiated allowing students of varying ability levels to successfully design a video game.

Wednesday, February 13

8:00 – 9:00 AM Oh the Web We Weave When We Network 2 Succeed (Crystal A)

Participants will gain an understanding of how to capitalize on social networking resources such as Edmodo, Springpad, Pinterest, Twitter, Ning, Plurk, Discovery and Facebook to further enhance their teaching and learning. Discussion will also center on building and empowering responsible student social networks in an educational setting & beyond.

9:15 – 10:15 AM Visioneering…Technology…Challenging Times (Cocoa 1)

How can school districts balance a progressive vision for teaching and learning within the current fiscal and political challenges in Pennsylvania? This session will provide a blueprint for advancing a district’s vision for 21st century teaching and learning with technology while controlling costs.

10:30 – 11:30 AM Building a Course on iTunes U (Cocoa Terrace)

Thinking about creating a course on iTunes U ? Get an overview of the process, from institution sign up to course creation and editing. Find out about the advantages and drawbacks of using this platform for digital learning.

11:45 – 2:00 PM Closing Keynote: Randy Wilhelm – Igniting the Hope of Knowing

Join Randy Wilhelm, CEO of Knovation, as he encourages and edifies educators to Ignite the Hope of Knowing. How is it that we come to KNOW something? For kids, learning and knowing happens 24/7, whether the system of education is involved or not. Fueled principally by curiosity, kids are born with the natural desire to know. They continually ask questions, seeking answers to often vexing questions, especially from their point of view. Do you remember what it feels like to know something new for the first time? Too often we look to external solutions for ways to improve learning. Rather, we should look inside each student, for each is outfitted with a powerful, curiosity-motivated desire-to-know machine. Unleash it, and the results will be quantified exponentially as we together ignite the hope of knowing.