THIS WEBSITE IS CURRENTLY BEING REDESIGNED
"It's time for a new generation of leadership for there is a new world to be won."
John F. Kennedy
It is truly an exciting time to be a classroom teacher! So much has changed about the work that we do in just the last five years-not to mention the past thirty years when I began my odyssey as an educator. One of my first assignments was teaching 9th grade civics and 8th grade American History in a school built in the 1920s. I still remember the creak of the wood floors whenever you walked in certain parts of the room, the skeleton key that opened the door and the chains I had to pull down to open the windows.
After school, I would often head off to one of the many video arcades that were opening up just about everywhere to partake of Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Jungle King and Tank Command. Not very sophisticated, but it did get me familiar with technology and helped me to develop the patience and persistance to deal with it- a quality that would prove useful in my later life teaching students and colleagues to interface with technology.
I first started using computers in the classroom sometime in 1985. The screens were black, the text was green and the images were all stick people or some cyber-attempt to draw something cute and clever. The activities were just read the text and fill in the blanks. At least the textbooks had color pictures even if they were out of date before they went to print.
Around 1990, when state governments still supported their schools and teachers I was awarded a Classrooms of Tomorrow computer by Michigan Governor James Blanchard. Wow-I could actually do all my worksheets and lessons using Microsoft Works, Printshop and Appleworks. I could even make banners and art for my classroom if I could put up with the screech of the dot-matrix printer. Soon, I had students creating spreadsheets and tables with information from their geography research or science experiments. Lots has changed since then. Using smartphones, netbooks, tablet PCs and devices yet to be invented, students are able to access information anytime and anywhere.
The new parameters for student learning in the 21st Century must include the following to prepare for a networked world where knowledge and the ability to leverage it will be imperative:
WHAT STUDENTS AND TEACHERS SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO IN A NETWORKED WORLD
- Teachers and students must be able to cultivate and utilize a variety of social networks for learning and communicating.
- Teachers must combine an understanding and enthusiasm for online networks with a rich content and best professional practice.
- Teachers and students should build powerful networks for learning that are used in and out of the classroom everyday.
- Students and teachers should set and achieve individual learning goals.
Our challenge in the 21st century will be to use technology create classrooms that are always exciting, entertaining, continually engaging and relevant- while all the while never forgetting that it is not the technology-but the students and the teacher that truly makes the difference. Thank you.