Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who Needs 21st Century Skills Anyway?!?

Who Needs 21st-Century Skills Anyway?

CLASSROOM 21 | by Greg Limperis

So what if the information in my textbook might be a bit outdated—Pluto was a planet at one point, wasn’t it?

What’s all this talk these days about teachers needing 21st century skills? What’s wrong with the way I, you or our parents learned, anyway? What is wrong with putting students in rows and opening up a big textbook to learn, anyway?

There is nothing like the sound of a textbook opening for the first time. The flipping of paper and the beautiful graphics are so engaging. I know what you are thinking; a digital textbook has that and so much more. So what if the information in my textbook might be a bit outdated—Pluto was a planet at one point, wasn’t it? The pictures are the same in the text as they are online aren’t they? I know, you can copy, save and paste pictures, text and much more into a project from your digital text but, hey! I can do that with a photocopy machine, glue and scissors anyway. Yeah, it may be messy and it may take a bit longer—but think of the great projects my students can share with each other.

Okay, so don’t tell me, you can do the same projects digitally—but add more pizzazz. What? You can add video, audio, motion and much more to your projects? Hmm, that’s interesting. What is that, you can put it online and share it with others worldwide? Others can rate the project and comment on it? They can work on it collaboratively from anywhere and at any time? Hmm, okay. But can yours be hung on a wall for others to see when you are all done? It can? Hmm.

Well, how about pen pals? Why do I need 21st century skills for collaboration? What’s wrong with students picking up a piece of paper, sitting down and writing a good, old-fashioned letter and mailing it off to someone else around the world? What’s that? You can do that instantly and get back feedback on the letter all within an hour or day’s time? You can talk with someone halfway around the world live—and face to face? Hmm.

Well, hey—how about field trips? What do I need 21st-century skills for in order for my students to take a field trip? All I have to do is load them up on a bus and we can be anywhere within a hundred or so miles within a day. I do not need 21st-century skills for that. I know it can be expensive and hard to get okays to leave the state—but it’s worth it. Oh, c’mon! Don’t tell me you can be anywhere in the world today on your field trip using your 21st-century skills. What do you mean your students took a field trip to see the Great Barrier Reef live this year? How did you do that? Isn’t it under water? Yeah, and you still went? Hmm.

Okay, but we can act out scenes in our class and create plays and share with others in the school all without using 21st-century skills. What is that you say? You do that and more? What do you mean you can create movies and share them online with the world? Yeah, our class has a boob tube. What do you mean you have YouTube? You can share all kinds of video with everyone worldwide? You can record your play and post it online? Others can comment on it and rate it? It can be downloaded and added to other people presentations? Hmm.

Yeah, but in this day of test taking and data, why would I need 21st-century skills for that? I’m good with data and a calculator. Yes, it takes a bit of time to gather that data and organize it so that it is meaningful, but I am eventually able to use some of it to help mold my teaching and drive my instruction. Don’t tell me: You can do all of that instantly and changes in your teaching happen frequently? Hmm.

I have a white board, pointer, over head projector, camera and plenty of books. What else do I need? What do you mean, you have a computer, document camera, video camera, interactive white board laser pointers, student response systems and you say you haven’t even touched the tip of what is available for you to use? Wow! What’s that you say? Your students are engaged? They’re presenting, sharing, collaborating, and using higher order thinking? That does sound fun.

Yes, I could survive and supply my students with a worthwhile education but, wow! I think yours sounds more engaging. Can I join your class? I guess I do need 21st-century skills. I want to know what this blogging thing is, what are web 2.0 tools, how do you Skype? I want to collaborate and share without leaving my classroom. I want to analyze, create, evaluate, apply, understand and remember. I want that for my students, too.

I don’t want them to feel like they are powering down when they enter my classroom. I want to meet them where they are and not expect them to meet me where I am. I am a teacher with tools available to me. I want to know how to use them. I am a continuous learner myself. I can learn these 21st-century skills. My students need them, and so don’t I.


Greg Limperis is a Middle School Technology Facilitator in Lawrence, Mass., who founded the very popular Technology Integration in Education professional learning network, reaching thousands of educators worldwide. He has shared with others what he knows and they have joined him in sharing their insights as well. Join them in bringing about change using your 21st century skills.

Visit: http://tech-in-ed.ning.com

Borrowed from: http://edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/who-needs-21st-century-skills-anyway/

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I hope you all know that today is a special day!! March 14! (Ringing any bells yet?!?) If not, it's Pi Day! (3-14) Hopefully math classes will be celebrating Monday with circles, cylinders, and of course, pie!
There are all kinds of interesting things you can do like:
Find your birthday in pi! (Mine (08-12-83) occurs at digit 808,934) Exciting right!?!?
Even more fun, you could spend 5 minutes and 59 seconds of your math class listening to someone recite the first 1000 digits of that special number.
For more fun facts and interesting ideas check out this invigorating article!
Bring on the pie! I mean, PI!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Free Advertising!!

Websites I use religiously:

Scholastic Printables - (paid site) Great worksheets (NOT THAT WORD!?!?). Easy to use on the SMART Board. Pull up the PDF and write all over it. I'm horrible at thinking up examples on the spot so this is my go-to site!

SMART Exchange - (free site) The SMART website where you can download (and upload) fabulous notebook files. I have a few in here all listed under CMS Content Creation Seminar (CCS) along with my name.

Discovery Education - (paid site) Anything by Discovery is going to be great! Although you have to pay to use the website, there are some great *free* resources in the middle of this page. Homework help and such. Almost anything Discovery Channel has released is on here (from Planet Earth to Kenny the Shark (my kids favorite indoor recess show). I use this for building backgound since so many of my students have limited experiences.

Discovery Ed School - (free site) Lots more resources from Discovery!

More to come!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Scholar Ladies - You will be singing this!

A teacher I work with shared this a few weeks ago! I know these kids loved creating this! My class has been inspired! Hopefully we'll have a video of our own to share before too long!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


A little about me:
  • I currently teach 4th grade but spent my first three years teaching second. I was "promoted" to 4th against my will but now love 4th and wouldn't want to go back down. The school where I work utilizes block scheduling so I currently teach two literacy blocks that include reading, writing, and social studies, which I love! I do not want to teach math again!
  • I graduated in 2009 with a Master's Degree in Reading Education so I am certified Elementary Education (K-6) and Reading Education (K-12).
  • I've always loved technology and computers. I was the first of my friend to get a cell phone in 10th grade, first to have an AOL email address, and the dorky one to get and understand all the new "toys".
  • I did and 3-day SMART Content Creation Seminar in Spring 2009 and became a SMART Exemplary Teacher. I'm in the middle of a 4-day Discovery Education seminar and hope to become a Star Discovery Educator.
  • I love kids lit! I am a huge Harry Potter dork and am going to be really disappointed if the Wizarding World of HP isn't open at Universal by the time I visit FL on Spring Break in April. My favorite author is Roald Dahl. I think the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are hysterical (kind of where I got the name of this blog from...). I read kids books as often if not more often that adult books.
  • I'm hoping to get into a doctoral program soon where I will focus on reading education with a strong emphasis towards classroom technology.
  • My current dream job would be writing Notebook lessons for SMART. However, it's a bit cold in Canada for me right now.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I remember...

I wanted to start a blog a while back but just wasn't sure which direction I should take it. I originally wanted to write a "day-in-the-life" blog, but to be quite honest, I'm not that exciting (not that any teacher's life is dull...) and I don't think I would keep up with it. I love learning and sharing, so a "teacher resource" blog just makes sense! I saw this commercial yesterday and it inspired me to start blogging today!