I celebrated the first-ever Digital Learning Day in about the best way possible…working with teachers on planning for digital learning! I’m working with a group of talented and skilled K-12 teachers from a single school district and we’re beginning to craft a new technology plan for the district. Whenever I visit districts, I am often seen as the “tech guy,” so I really tried to make sure that we focused on students and learning and making sure our tech plan supported the needs of the district and any initiatives they had underway. In order to do that, we started the day with a student-oriented activity.
Design A 21st Century Student
To open the day, teams of teachers divided themselves into groups and worked together to determine what a 21st Century student needed to be successful. They then had to design a visual representation of that student in some way. We had posterboards and markers handy, but I’m very proud to announce that all of our submissions were digital. Some used their iPad to draw, others combined images they found online, but most opted to use a site I mentioned that was the origin of the idea called Build Your Wild Self. This site from the New York Zoos and Aquarium was recommended to me by one of my graduate students (Thanks, Shenette!) who teaches second grade. She used it for a best practice lesson on habitats, because the “wild self” you create comes with a wide range of options on body parts and accoutrements, but you have to justify why you used them. We did the same with the 21st Century student.
The future selves the teachers created, whether with the site or not, came with some great justifications. Truthfully, I had only budgeted 30 minutes for the activity as an ice breaker and to get creative juices flowing, but we took a whole hour. I believe it was worth it. In the end, the teachers noted that our 21st Century student needed some of the following:
- Antennae because they’re always networking, but a need to understand how to connect networking to education
- Wings because they are often connected and may rely on mobile devices, especially wireless devices
- To come out out their shells and develop social skills in a variety of settings, including face-to-face settings
- A device to support knowledge: they need to know how to access, assess, and apply knowledge
- Wide eyes because they are often visually stimulated and enjoy a wide range of stimulation
- Devices they relate to so that their different learning preferences can be addressed
- Wings because the teachers want them to soar over adversity and to rise to their potential
- Big ears because they’re probably always listening, although teachers need to help them develop the skills to be critical listeners
- Powerful hindquarters or fins because teachers want to push or propel them to success
This was a great start to a long day full of lots of hard decisions and analyzing different forms of data. Please feel free to use it yourself, and if you do, let me know how it worked. If I get permission, I’ll post some of the examples from the teams, but in the mean time, my own wild self is presented below.