Sunday, July 31, 2011

Poscast: Profiling the Students of Today

An interview with:
Student A: 6th grade female
Student B: 8th grade female
Student B: 10th grade male

A neighbor and former student of mine, Amy (who recently graduated high school), was gracious enough to read the responses I recorded from each of the interviews with the students.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Podcast - TEST

This is a test to see if I can actually get my recorded podcast to my blog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

I spent some time exploring the website of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.  Here are my thoughts:

* My reaction to the website: 
I had never heard of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills prior to visiting the organization's website.  I had to spend time to understand what the organization was all about.  At first, I wasn't clear as this is so very new to me.  However, I found several online videos under "Tools and Resources" that helped to explain what teaching and learning looks like in the 21st century schools.  The overview of the framework includes a detailed outline and description of skills, standards, and outcomes.    

* Information that surprised me:
When I looked under "State Initiatives," I noticed that my state is not listed.  I also noticed that only 16 states are listed.  This surprised me because the organization was founded nine years ago in 2002.  With all of the advances in technology in the business community and in education, why hasn't every state been exposed to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills?

* I disagree with...:
 I am excited to infuse 21st century skills into education.  It just makes sense.  I'd like to see more states take part in this initiative.  I think it should be enforced.  With that being said, I think that the idea of joining 21st century skills with the world of education is vital to our students today.  I would like to see a forum for educators on this organization’s website. I would like to see a place where teachers, administrators, and district leaders can have a voice.  Okay, so now we become members of the P21 organization, then what? 

* Implications:
It is necessary for students to learn the core curriculum simultaneously with the new literacies that come with the technology of today and of the future.  Our students should continue to work cooperatively, but now in a whole new way - virtually.  Once our students begin working cooperatively with members outside of their physical group within the four walls of the classroom, a whole new world opens up.  Be it blogging with other students in another class period, or with students in another school, state, or even country, 21st century skills will naturally be implemented.   Not only do our students need to know the basics of technology - formatting, designing, problem-solving, creating, and manipulating - they also must understand the purpose and objective.

Collaboration is important.  Some problems are so complicated that they must be examined by a group of people.  Dr. Dede (2010) suggested problems in the world today are becoming more "wicked", or complex, therefore groups are necessary.  Students should have the opportunity to collaborate and work together with people of different skills and backgrounds in order to make meaning of problems and synthesize information together.  Dede also stated that "we need to change pedagogy and curriculum and the assessment systems so that students are being assessed on their ability to work in a group performance." Hence, 21st century skills will be a necessity in collaboration and the workplace.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). [Webcast]. Skills for the 21st century. Baltimore: Author

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Students Blog in 8th Grade Math

I recently watched a video (2010)  in my graduate class about a 6th grade teacher, Kathy Martin, who integrated blogging into her classroom and how effective blogging can be.  This also got me to thinking about how we as educators do things differently versus doing different things in our classrooms.

I am an advocate for writing across the curriculum - yes - even in math.  As an 8th grade teacher in the state of Georgia, I am aware and understand the importance of writing in every subject.  Our 8th grade students must pass the Middle Grades Writing Assessment (MGWA) in January in order to promote to high school.  It is expected that students are exposed to writing in each class,  not just in Language Arts.  

I have my 8th grade math students keep a Math Journal.  Students respond to questions that often lead to class discussions.  Questions could be about how students feel toward the subject, a concept, a project, or even homework.  Questions can also be about real-world relations to mathematical applications.  Students may also respond to lesson or unit Essential Questions (E.Q.'s) in their journal.  Rather than having my students do this in a composition notebook, they can post their responses to a blog.  In addition, students can read their classmates responses to the journal questions, and respond to one another, thereby generating a discussion between students.  

The math journal blog would promote appropriate writing practice for 8th grade students, as well as encourage participation from all students.  Sometimes when we hold class discussions, not every student has the opportunity to share, ask questions, or comment - mainly due to time constraints.  Blogging is a fair way for students to do those things "in front of the class" as well as to interact with each other and even communicate with students that are in different class periods.  

The use of an online math journal in the form of a blog, could eventually lead students to a place where they can publish their technical writing pieces for all to see.  Students could be given a rubric to review their peers' written works.  In this case, students could "Comment" to each other with editing remarks based on the rubric.

I foresee ultimate engagement, enthusiasm for writing, participation without ridicule, and enjoyment in 8th grade math.

~ Malissa Sauciunas

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Spotlight on technology: blogging in the classroom. Baltimore, MD: Author.