The term 21st century classroom is utilized a lot now. Teachers and Schools alike are making steps towards a 21st century classroom. The steps may be small, (perhaps a crawl) or big; nevertheless, classrooms are edging towards a change. I think there can be some confusion on what that type of classroom looks like. In a recent conversation with a fellow Tweeter we were both examining a graphic that I found through another tweet. Below is the graphic. You can read it better here.
The idea behind the picture is to show all the ideas, activities, etc. that goes on in a 21st century classroom. Though I want my students to be a part of classroom where there is technology use, it doesn’t mean students are sitting in front of some sort of mobile device, desktop computer, or laptop and I, as the teacher, am sitting at my desk while they work. The picture does a poor job of truly showing what technology can do to transform a classroom. The picture would be more powerful if it showed students sitting in a group collaborating with a digital device. To the left of the picture where the two hands are joined it states, “Integrating life skills into education can improve student engagement and retention and prepare them for 21st century careers.” Collaboration is a life skill and is more important then ever. And with social media (mentioned in the bottom right hand), collaboration is inevitable. So, why isn’t this life skill being displayed? Also, with teachers getting such a bad rap these days, why isn’t the teacher interacting with the children in this chart?
I do realize it is simply displaying the components of a 21st century classroom, but the graphics and some of the statements don’t truly deliver the power behind a 21st century classroom. For example, my classroom is without a doubt 21st century. As I have mentioned before my students use Celly. To me, a 21st century classroom goes beyond the walls of my room. Though I use Celly within my classroom, I have had many thought provoking conversations with my students outside of class. Just this evening, I was chatting with some students about Oxymoron in literature and real life. Digital tools such as mobile devices and Celly make it possible to show how students are learning beyond the walls of the classroom and this one conversation I had, truly reflects the capability of a 21st century classroom.
The picture also gives the top three reasons for teachers using technology in the classroom and I do agree with each of them, but we also need to realize one of the biggest reasons technology should be used is because we are dealing with digital natives. My five year old reads on my ipad and his kindle fire. The internet wasn’t even a huge deal until I was a freshman in college. If we want to get through to our students and motivate them, we need to adapt our lessons to our audience. To teach a 21st century learner, we must become a 21st century teacher. The Common Core Standards even address technology. A 21st century classroom is much more than placing equipment in front of our students and saying, “Have at it!” It requires us to be up-to-date on the latest tools and possibly attend professional development to make us the 21st century teachers we need to become.