Here’s to Joining the 21st Century!

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Isn’t Twitter fantastic?  Now that I am a professional blogger (ha ha), I have decided that I need to look at other blogs dealing with issues in Education and Educational technology.  At first, I had no idea where to start.  Well, I happened to check my Twitter account, and the very first tweet I saw was posted by Edutopia to thank their many bloggers.  Thank you, Edutopia!

Philly Teacher’s blog post “The Four Pillars of Technology Use in the Classroom”  really caught my attention.  These are the four pillars upon which this Technology Teacher’s curriculum rests:

I have been reading and thinking a lot about the learning needs and preferences of the Digital Generation, and I think that these four pillars create a very holistic approach to technology and classroom instruction because they:

  1. Promote skills—communicating and collaborating with others, evaluating information, and creating new texts—that are crucial to success in today’s job market.  Students need to know how to access the information they need, how to effectively evaluate this information, and how to communicate and collaborate on projects and problems.  Most importantly, they need to develop the creativity necessary to the act of creation.  The factory jobs of the 19th century are no longer available; we need students who are confident and competent at using technology to enhance their own success.
  2. Are research-based.   Benjamin Bloom created in the 1950s what is now known as Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Those familiar with the revised version will notice that two of the four pillars find a place on Bloom’s taxonomy.  Those that do not—Communicate and Collaborate—have and are becoming extremely important to life in today’s society.  Therefore, I recommend that these four pillars be dubbed “The 21st Century Taxonomy.”
  3. Give teachers a place to start.  Look at the four pillars again.  Aren’t you already teaching these skills?  Doesn’t your instruction contain instances in which students need to communicate, collaborate, evaluate, or create?  Certainly it does!  The technologies listed next to the pillars provide examples of tools that can augment what you are already doing!  Believe it or not, many of these technologies actually make it easier on the teacher!
  4. Provide focus (for the teacher and the students).   Philly Teacher did not keep these pillars to herself; instead, she shared them with her students, and then helped them explore the meaning of the terms by using Think-Pair-Share exercises (developing students’ communication and collaboration skills while discussing these terms!).
  5. Promote student engagement and investment.  Students at the preteen/teen age LOVE to talk.  Why not make use of this desire by not only allowing but encouraging students to communicate and collaborate in order to evaluate or create?  Students actually like creating new things when they are allowed to work together.

My only suggestion would be to switch the first and last pillars so that they read:

Create

Evaluate

Collaborate

Communicate

This way, they more closely resemble Bloom’s taxonomy.  Students work in logical order from the bottom, upward; from easiest to most difficult.  (This way even visually the skills create a sort of staircase from bottom to top).

These are just a few reasons why I respect these four pillars of focus so much.  I would suggest attempting to adopt them in your own classroom.  Part of the reason that I created this post is to keep a record of them for myself!

Kudos to Philly Teacher and all teachers who are making real efforts to meet the needs of this new, very different generation.  Here’s to joining the 21st century!

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4 responses »

  1. Kate, this post is great, I like how you break down the skills, reorder them. I usually have a difficult time understanding charts and graphics like the ones in Bloom’s Taxonomy, but you didn’t just put the chart on your blog you also explained why it’s important. Also I think that it’s a great point to share the learning method with students, especially since most students are only familiar with learning a certain way.

  2. I like how you re-organized the Four Pillars to more easily transpose over Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning. It definitely makes more sense to have Creation at the top of list because (as we discussed in last week’s class) Creation is the surest sign that one understands material. It also takes a certain amount of confidence to share a creation with the rest of the world and schools should be places where confidence is tested and built upon. Communication and Creation can in fact happen all at the same time as well. Sharing a piece of poetry before a class, or an online student video, is an act of communication and also a creation of a certain kind of community among classmates. Very interesting post!

  3. Kate, I appreciate your reflection on the Four Pillars. I hadn’t thought about the order in which I presented them, aside from the Evaluate pillar. I saved that one for last as a segway into discussing how they would be tracking their mastery of various skills over the course of the year.

    Thanks for making the Bloom’s connection. Great food for thought!

  4. Did anyone elswe look at the think-share-pair link? I like the idea. Several times I let kids get into groups and I just tried to estimate an amount of time that they would discuss the exercise that I had created. It was sometimes difficult to keep them on topic or to reconvene the class. I wish I had strusctured things a little more like they suggested at the link!
    http://www.readingquest.org/strat/tps.html

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