It's been a fun few months around my room---You see, I've started to use the tools of the Read/Write Web with my sixth grade students on a pretty regular basis. Our greatest accomplishment: We've started a blog and podcast program covering current events that my students are completely jazzed by!
This work wasn't easy, however. I spent several hours downloading software, reading about blogging, sharing sample podcasts with my students, and scaffolding their intial efforts. The majority of this time came after school and on the weekends---and were a result of my own personal interest in technology as an instructional tool.
What made it more difficult was that I've fallen behind in my pacing guides and curriculum maps for social studies and science. Investing classroom time into introducing digital communication to my students has taken time away from content coverage. I've found myself justifying the time that we spend on our digital projects because standardized reading and math tests are used to determine our school's standing in the eyes of the general public.
That's why I was relieved when I came across an interesting collection of resources put together by eSchool News today. It's introduction read:
Educators, economists, and forecasters all agree on the growing importance of so-called "21st-century skills" in the workplace. While reading, writing, and arithmetic will always form the foundation of any solid education, digital communication and media literacy are on the verge of being elevated to the same level of importance. In addition to requiring advanced skills in reading and math, the employers of tomorrow are going to require a high degree of digital and multimedia fluency.
While I'm confident that I'm developing a "high degree of digital and multimedia fluency" in my students, I worry about the children in the majority of America's classrooms.
I wonder how comfortable most teachers are at incorporating 21st Century skills into their instruction. Do teachers have a clear picture of the kinds of skills that 21st Century employers will be looking for? Do they have experience with the kinds of digital communication that will become common-place in the lives of their students? Do they have the support and job-embedded professional development necessary to take risks with technology in their classrooms and with their students?
How can professional learning teams help to ensure that all teachers can develop lessons that introduce students to the digital literacies necessary for success in our rapidly changing world?