I must say, to look at the instructions for the ED 307 Partnering Pedagogies Investigation Video was daunting. I was learning about a new topic on top of learning how to create a multimedia video. I was very intimidated. What helped was the topic: Global Collaboration. Granted, the final say on topic choice belonged to my professor, but I was very pleased when I was allowed to create my project based on this topic. My love of foreign languages and foreign cultures fans the flames of my every day life.
This week I found myself at the doctor's office again because that's what most people encounter at this time of year in North Alabama. The wait time to be called back was exceedingly long: longer than I've ever spent waiting at this particular office. Good thing I had my kindle! Or so I thought. As I was sitting there in the waiting room, I couldn't help but notice this darling little ball of energy with dark curls, bouncing and dancing and talking up a storm. At first I noticed that she was speaking English as well as any three year old does. But then I noticed that she was speaking Portuguese. "How wonderful!" I thought. As we were sitting there, I heard the father speaking to the mother in Spanish and a mix of Portuguese. The mother spoke only in Portuguese. The daughter spoke to the mother in Portuguese and to the father in English!
At one point the mother saw me smiling and said, "Three years old, she doesn't have an off switch." To which I responded, "Mine are nine and five and are both the same way." We commiserated for only a moment because the conversation turned very quickly to how much I admired the daughter's dual language abilities and my own experiences with foreign languages. I told the mother how I knew a small amount of Portuguese (which she said I pronounced better than her husband did!) and Spanish as well as several phrases in Norwegian, Arabic, Japanese, Italian, German and Korean. I explained that I knew a great deal of French and Mandarin. And that's when it happened. When I said Mandarin, she leaned in closer, got very serious and said, "You need to speak to my husband." I told them that I learned Mandarin while I was in the Air Force. As it turned out, their son is stationed at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, CA, learning Farsi, which is the sister language to the one my husband learned while in the Air Force, Dari. They are both spoken in Afghanistan. Now, it may not seem like it to the outside observer but there are so many people in the Air Force and so many different jobs, it's really not that common to meet someone else who has been stationed at the DLIFLC unless you knew them while you were there. On top of all of this, the father told me that while he was enlisted, he had the same job that my brother currently has and that he knows people performing the same job that my sister currently does, both of whom are still proudly serving their country. Needless to say, the world became much smaller for me that day.
The reason my experience in Mandarin piqued their interest is because, as the father explained to me, his company has a contract with the Marines to translate documents into Mandarin and they will be looking for people to help them with that. So here I was, sick in the doctor's office, trying desperately not to cough, making business connections for global collaboration projects.
To me, respect for other cultures is of the utmost importance. How can we begin to know ourselves if we have no basis for comparison? Being a good person begins with love and acceptance, both of which we are all born with the ability to do. In order to overcome the hate and malice that is so prevalent in this world, we must hold on to the ability to learn, understand and accept. I believe this begins with us and our children. If we teach them to hate and be unforgiving they will hate and be unforgiving. But if we teach them love...they will love. If we teach them to understand... they will understand. If we teach them to accept the differences of others and appreciate those differences... they will learn to love themselves for who they are and to love others for being who they are.
Global collaboration opens so many doors for our students. Just imagine a classroom, any classroom, where there is no judgement, no fear, no malice, where students from two completely different countries are working together to create something beautiful, something unique, something that would not have been created otherwise. Now imagine what the students will take away from this experience. They will remember what they have learned because it will have meant something. It will have made an impression. They will come away with a new found knowledge about the culture they have just interacted with. That is global collaboration. Simply, it's working on a project with people from other parts of the world. On an entirely different scale, they are sewing lifelong attachments to something greater than themselves. It's awe inspiring to know that you are a part of something so much larger than yourself. It is so humbling to know that there is so much more to the world than just you. Our children, our students, deserve the opportunity to experience these things. I, for one, will never say no to a global collaboration opportunity.
On this Veterans Day, thank you to all those who are serving, have served, those who support our service men and women including their families and to all those we have lost. God Bless you all.
Marc Prensky's (2010) thoughts on what a new curriculum should be are to "focus more on the verbs" for the 21st century classroom and its students (p. 186). I agree with Mr. Prensky that change is happening and we, as students and as educators, must keep up, evolve and most importantly, learn to adapt so that we are as prepared as possible when new ideas or technologies emerge. 21st century skills are essential in today's classroom because the world is not in stasis, rather, it is constantly evolving and growing. Students today need to have a global consciousness because interaction and communication with citizens of the world is inevitable. The classrooms of today must be ready to prepare students not just for what is current but what will come in the future. We need to teach them how to think critically and to problem solve. There will be many answers to their problems and questions just a click away, but the skills will still be essential. Marc Prenksy (2010) goes in depth into the partnered classroom and its benefits. I feel that we are at the beginning of the journey to becoming 21st century oriented learners and teachers. We have a long way to go, but with the sage words and sound advice from Marc Prensky's (2010) book, Teaching Digital Natives- Partnering For Real Learning, we can learn a great deal about how to get to where we need to be and achieve what we want to achieve.
Prensky, M. R. (Ed.). (2010). Teaching digital natives: Partnering for real learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
The constructivist approach to education removes the teacher from the front of the classroom and places him or her into the folds of the learning process. The constructivist approach focuses on the student and how he or she learns, striving to provide the student with the means to teach themselves the content that the teacher puts forth. Constructivists believe that allowing students to find their own methods of learning and finding the answers to their questions through exploration, experimentation and experiences, enhances and benefits the learning process because the content then becomes more relevant to the students, thus, interesting. I suppose, in a way, it could be considered similar to the flipped classroom, in that the teacher and the lectures are not the focus. The focus for both methods is social interaction and self discovery. However, this constructivist method brings up a concern for me that merits more research.
Recently, I had a conversation with my neighbor who is the mother of two elementary students and one high school student. This neighbor grew up in Europe with a very similar educational background to my own, based on the traditional teacher/lecturer ways. We discussed how her elementary aged daughter came home and explained that once again, her teacher was walking around the classroom, not standing in front. This girl explained that she found it very distracting for the teacher to be all over the place. She said fellow students often start to get crazy in class when lessons are taught like this. Now this is just one case, but the questions that her comments bring up cannot be ignored. The other aspect that we spoke about and one that many people may become defensive about, is discipline and respect for authority. We seem to have a problem arising, particularly in this country, with regard to ownership of responsibilities and mistakes.
Technology, discipline (or lack thereof) and changing opinions are breeding children who do not have patience, respect for authority or a sense of ownership of the consequences of one's own behavior. I know that not everyone will agree with that statement. I also know that I agree with a lot of what the constructivist approach tries to convey. I do feel that the best learning takes place when students are eager and willing to learn. Constructivism facilitates this learning in a productive way. I do wonder, though, what is the result of taking the reins away from the teacher and giving them to the student? Obviously, it's not the same for every student. The old-school thought is that you do what you are told when you are told to do it and you don't make any arguments about it. Through this method, we learned to respect our elders, respect authority, respect deadlines and appreciate that we are not the center of the universe. Does the constructivist approach have a replacement method for these essential skills?
Image found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kathycassidy/3547762946
Being a child of the 80's and 90's, my experiences as a student are what you would expect of the times. Teachers talked at us and we doodled in our notebooks. I mean took notes! We took notes in our notebooks... Well, whatever we did, it was not a flipped classroom. I have only just recently heard the term flipped classroom, never mind knowing what it meant. However, after completing a lesson on it and creating a video to answer some assignment questions, it's safe to say that I have a much better understanding of what the flipped classroom is.
No, it's not hanging the desks from the ceiling or students grading their own papers, but you could say that, in a way, it is the students being the teacher, or more precisely, it is the students learning how to teach themselves by actively engaging in their own learning. It is giving the tools, resources and power to the students so that they may find how, what, when and where they learn best. Though the concept is not as new as I would have guessed, it is still somewhat unheard of. From what I have read and researched, though, I am a believer.
I can see such great things happening in classrooms and schools that implement this method, but I can also see the many reasons why it has not yet taken over the country like a new Star Wars movie. Many classrooms and schools are a far cry from being able to afford the time or costs associated with digital technology or internet access. We, as educators, cannot know if each student has access to digital technology or internet access.
Cell phone companies may release a new version of a cell phone knowing there will be quirks to work out before the release of the two point oh, but we can't really take that approach with our students who all deserve the absolute best we can give them each year. We cannot and should not treat them as guinea pigs. The flipped classroom can work and has worked, but there are many hurdles to overcome before we see it in every classroom, everywhere. Although, I am very much looking forward to it.
This is where you can find the video I made about the flipped classroom.
I am finding that my daughters, ages five and almost 9, already know more about technology than I do sometimes. I have learned a lot over the past couple of years just by taking online classes. The truth is, though, that I am a digital immigrant and my daughters are digital natives. I did learn a different language than the digital one. My elementary and secondary classroom settings were complete with chalk boards and lectures. I was in high school before my family had a computer in the house and even then, I had no idea of the possibilities that computers and internet access could provide. My older daughter googles images of animals so that she can draw them. She goes to websites like prodigy.com to practice skills that she's learned in school by playing games.
Being a teacher today requires that we digital immigrants become more tech savvy. We cannot teach the same old way anymore. Students are plugged in and we are required to plug ourselves in to accommodate this new way of learning. I have a passion for foreign languages and learning the language of the digital age is no different than learning French or Chinese. What's more, is that you have the internet to help you whenever you need answers. I am excited to learn this new, valuable, essential language.
Image found here: https://pixabay.com/p-1502369/?no_redirect
1. List and Discuss the critical skills, referred to as 21st Century Skills, needed to be successful in the 21st Century and beyond, according to P21.
According to P21’s Framework for 21st Century Learning, there are several critical skills that are necessary for success in the 21st Century. These skills are:
The first set of skills, Content Knowledge and 21st Century Themes, are the typical classes that are taught in schools as basic subjects: English, Reading or Language Arts, World Languages, Arts, Mathematics, Economics, Science, Geography, History, and Government and Civics. The P21 believes that it is important to also include more in-depth learning of global awareness as well as financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial, civic, health and environmental literacy.
The second set of skills, Learning and Innovation Skills, are the skills that focus on creativity and collaboration that P21 suggests separates those students who are prepared for life outside of school from those who are not. These skills are: Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, and Communication and Collaboration.
The third set of skills, Information, Media and Technology Skills, are the skills that P21 believes are essential in order to keep up in today’s technological world with the ever increasing ways to gather or display information. These skills are: Information, Media and ICT Literacy. ICT stands for Information and Communication Technology.
The final set of critical skills, Life and Career Skills, are the more personal skills that P21 suggests are essential for success in life and careers. These skills are: Flexibility and Adaptability, Initiative and Self Direction, Social and Cross-Cultural, Productivity and Accountability, and Leadership and Responsibility.
2. Discuss the “Are they really ready to work” report and its key findings.
The “Are They Really Ready to Work” report is from the perspective of employers on the skills and readiness to join the workforce of today’s high school and college students upon graduation. The report is an in-depth collaboration study done by The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the Society for Human Resource Management to establish the most imperative skills employers are looking for in new recruits, where current students are standing with regard to these essential skills and what can be done about the disparities.
The study found that Basic Knowledge, such as reading and writing and Applied Skills, such as professionalism and work ethic, were the most valued skills that new employees are required to possess. The findings showed that many students skill levels were inadequate in the basic skills and applied skills categories. The findings showed that students did have adequate skills with regard to collaboration and teamwork, information technology application and creativity/innovation, with the level of skill shown increasing parallel with the level of education.
The report brought up the effectiveness, cost and use of remedial or on the job training for employees who need to work on basic and applied skills. Costs were not definable as they were so varied. The employers were also asked to list skills that they felt would become more necessary over the next five years. Foreign language skills were listed by more than half of the employers surveyed. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, Information Technology Application and Teamwork/Collaboration topped the list. The most critically rated emerging area was Health and Wellness. Employers believe that this will become increasingly crucial for future employees.
The study indicated that employers believe that the responsibility for preparing emerging employees for the workforce falls on the shoulders of the education system and the employees themselves. However, through partnering with the education system, the report indicates that businesses can help to prepare students to be the employees they want to hire. This can be done through better internships and by building business relationships to allow students the ability to acquire more experience early on.
Administrator. (2007). Framework for 21st century learning. Retrieved September 2, 2016, from Partnership for 21st Century Learning, http://www.p21.org/about-us/p21-framework
Casner-Lotto, J., & Barrington, L. (2006). Are They Really Ready To Work. Retrieved September 2, 2016, from http://www.p21.org/storage/documents/FINAL_REPORT_PDF09-29-06.pdf