180 days of learning

180 days of learning

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WILLING TO RELEARN!

August 16, 2012 , , , , , , ,

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.  ~Alvin Toffler

I panicked as I was asked to “blog” the second day of school and revisit what the students had learned…. The second day of school?…..Really?  The last thing I could think about was teaching and learning, as an agglomeration of e-mails flooded my inbox the first forty-eight hours of the new school year.  There were sudden schedule changes, computer issues, meetings, surveys to complete, student issues, locker changes, handbook regulations…..and the list goes on.  Was there really time for teaching and learning on the second day of school?  Yes, there had to be….  I had 140 new faces fixated on my every word, ready to discover, design, and create, thus validating their contributions to my 21st century classroom.

My role for the next 180 days was to orchestrate and facilitate 21st century learning, with the student at the helm as the explorer; walking into the classroom with the mindset of a learning catalyst was imperative today and every day for the next 178 days. I discovered quickly that a majority of my seventh grade students did not own the terms blogging and collaborating in their vocabulary repertoire, and the ideal of “global digital citizenship” was as abstract in nature as it professed to be.

The solution was simple; I tackled all three with one click.  If the students were going to be the change-agents in their own learning, their self-discovery needed to begin immediately.  Using My Big Campus as the platform, I utilized the blogging/discussion forum to enable students to begin their first attempt in the world of blogging and on-line discussion.  After viewing a short inspirational and thought-provoking video clip, students engaged in an on-line discussion and reacted to the experience that was portrayed in the video by blogging how that experience might positively or negatively impact their own personal lives.  Additionally, they collaborated and analyzed the risks and benefits of the experience.  As blogging erupted throughout the classroom, students soon began responding to other posts, without regard to what was “required!”  Small group discussions at individual tables flourished, as the blogging propelled the topic into a Socratic classroom discussion.  I was enthralled at the level of insight and collaboration that had exploded in front of my eyes with just a few clicks.

It was only the second day of school of my 20th year of teaching, and I had already learned that we must all be willing to relearn!

Bio:  Paula currently teaches middle school language arts and is a former elementary administrator.  She earned her B.A. and M.S. from Indiana University.  Paula continues to pursue her love for writing through teaching and publishing her own writing.  Her first book, The Fifth Floor, was released in November of 2006, followed by the sequel, The Key to the Case, published in April of 2009.  

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