This week, I engaged in a Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics activity by creating a “chariot” out of pipe cleaners, legos, and Kinects, powered by a Sphero robot. Building the chariot required collaboration with a partner. With my partner, we researched chariots, created a presentation about chariots using Sway, built our chariot, and raced our Sphero on a track against other teams. Last, in class we delved into the ITL (Innovative Teaching and Learning) research.
Here are a few takeaways from this week:
- Sway is a free online program provided by Microsoft. It is a great tool because it is user friendly, convenient, and efficient. In just a few minutes, I learned how to build a presentation with cards including text and images. Sway automatically chooses layouts and arranges the content in a creative way. I can select to view the cards in a slide show, a scroll sideways, or a scroll down, similar to a smartphone view. Students have access to this program! I plan on using it in the next few weeks with my 5th graders because it seems much easier to navigate than PowerPoint.
- Collaboration is wonderful. The makerspace activity of making the chariots was highly interesting because we had a chance to create them with a partner. Our collaboration was critical to winning 2nd place. We expanded each other’s thinking, supported each other’s ideas, and enjoyed the process. We were asked to assign a leader and a support member of our team. This practice is effective with students, too.
- ITL research examines what 21st century learning looks like in the classroom, what 21st century teaching should look like, and the effectiveness of implementing technology on student learning. This document gives educators accessible examples of how to put methods into action when it comes to using technology in the classroom in meaningful ways. As a class, we took a closer look at a lesson example to “code” it, or determine what level we would award it based on the criteria for Knowledge Construction in the 21CLD Learning Activity Rubrics.
I found the 21 CLD Learning Activity Rubrics to be quite rigorous. I think it also only makes sense that we should be addressing these skills in the classroom, since they are considered “baseline skills” when applying for most jobs. To be a competitive candidate for a position, the applicant must be able to construct knowledge, collaborate effectively, self-regulate, be an innovative problem-solver, and communicate skillfully. Easier said than done.
In my current teaching position, I don’t foresee myself worrying too much about coding my lessons using the ITL rubrics. However, I appreciate the see the value in reflecting on the key components of each 21st century skill. The skills that most relate to my work are skilled communication (thinking about audience when writing), self-regulation (students set personal goals, monitor their growth toward those goals, and know the success criteria ahead of time), and occasionally collaboration (group work in responding to texts). I am less able to embed the remaining three skills into my teaching because of the nature of the Safety Net program and curricula we use.