How do you prep students for the next century?

This week in CEP 810 I was asked to design a 21st Century lesson plan that I would use in my curriculum. I appreciated this assignment, because I tried hard not to just fall back on a technology tool or skill that I already knew how to use or have previously taught to my students. Instead I pushed myself to go outside my comfort zone and design a lesson for my civics students that embraced two digital technology tools. One that I have no experience with and one that I do. I chose Moovly and WordPress blogging. Both of these digital technology tools were means towards what Wagner (2013) describes in a New York Times interview, “skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration [which] are far more important than academic knowledge” (p. 1). By the end of the year especially, my students already have access to a multitude of academic knowledge, but they need to be able to make sense of and reflect upon what they have learned across content areas (Thomas & Brown, 2011). I have them creating animated representations of their course experiences in Moovly in order to learn, as Thomas & Brown (2011) share, “to generate content that represents their learning.” (p. 91).   You can check out my lesson plan HERE.

 

Renee Hobbs, in her book Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom (2011) declares there are five instructional practices that are fundamental to learning across all content areas – access, analyze, create, reflect, and act. My program emphasizes interdisciplinary connections as always being possible, so the idea that these competencies affect learning in all areas resonated in my lesson. Although my lesson centers around my civics course, it has technology and English Language arts learning targets embedded into it along with three key practices from Hobbs – analyze, create, and reflect.

 

In this lesson, I aimed for students to synthesize and reflect on their own learning as well as the learning of others. These students are designing, creating, and evaluating their learning in my civics course. This type of learning is very similar to what Wagner (2013) calls “Accountability 2.0” where students create “digital portfolios to show evidence of mastery skills like critical thinking and communication.” Asking students to select their own criteria of progress allows students to show that their answers matter (Hobbes, 2011, p. 15) and they will apply the knowledge they gained from the course as well as providing evidence for their reflective dialogue with each other.

 

Reflection is also embedded in the creation they are doing in this lesson. To quote Hobbs (2011), students get to “use image, language, sound, graphic design, performance, and interactivity to get their message across” (p. 16). They are creating Moovly pieces that contain their reflection about their growth as learners and the key concepts they mastered this year. They are learning to be creative about their process and progress as thinkers and that will echo in the pieces they produce. Finally in providing reflective dialogue and feedback with each other they are learning to share their feelings and build empathy (Hobbs, 2011, p. 17). I am excited to see the results of shaping my end-of-the-year work with these tools and empower my students to engage in 21st century learning.

Please feel free to review my lesson plan and comment on my rationale.

References

Friedman, Thomas L. (2013, March 30). Need a Job? Invent It. New York Times. SR11.

Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Retrieved from: http://www.newcultureoflearning.com/newcultureoflearning.pdf

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