The future depends on what we do in the present. - Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Class Reflection: A New Mind Set

(image courtesy of
The skills acquired from the class titled Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society has helped me to develop 21st century technology skills by learning several Web 2.0 digital tools and applications such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, podcastmachine, and Google reader. Before the class, I did not have any experience using this type of technology. While taking the course, I gained experience using and creating an education blog, a group wiki and a student podcast. Additionally, this class has also helped me to understand who "digital natives" (Prensky, 2005) are, and the skills these natives will need, in order to be successful when they enter the workforce. According to Dr. Thornburg, some of those 21st century skills are critical thinking, problem solving, communication skills, creativity and innovative thinking. Dr. Thornburg also states that students learn and retain information better by actually doing hands on projects, or artifacts which he calls "constructionism." (Laureate, 2008) Thus, the resources and skills acquired through this class will enable me to add the usage of these Web 2.0 tools to my curriculum, so that it will be easier for students to create technology projects, and at the same time allow me to get one step closer to becoming a 21st century technology integration teacher.

"Students learn meaningfully when they learn with computers," (Keengwe et al, 2008, p85) and it is up to teachers to offer technology-rich lessons in order for students to come into the classrooms with their brains "powered on." (Prensky, 2008, p42) Therefore, educators need to be creative, comfortable, and flexible using technology to become technology literate. Students are using a digital language outside of the classroom, and teachers need to be prepared to teach using that language, or risk students powering off in class. Ways in which I can ensure student engagement and expand my knowledge of technology integration, is by applying the Web 2.0 tools mentioned above, staying abreast of new technology, taking training classes, pursuing professional development training in the use of new technology, applying best practices by collaborating with colleagues in my school district and globally, by making use of educational blogs and wikis to share lessons.

Two long term goals I have set for myself to apply the skills learned in the course, and to seamlessly integrate technology into the classroom, is to create a class web site and class wiki. The first goal is to create a class webiste.  The class web site will be a tool I will use to upload daily lessons, assignments, frequently asked questions, post due dates, grading information, contact information, links to additional resources on the web, and class syllabus. This website will also help students to learn responsibility and resourcefulness skills, so when they miss a class, it will be up to them to refer to the class website for the material they missed. Having a website will afford students the luxury of having class information at their finger tips and have access to class materials anytime, anywhere, just as students have access to non-school related materials outside the classroom. The second goal will be to create a class wiki that will be used for project demonstration and posting, peer collaboration, and group work. Incorporating more collaborating technology into my classes is essential to prepare students for a place in a "knowledge-based" (Laureate, 2008) world.

This class has given me the opportunity to learn how to create artifacts using tools from the Read/Write Web, and ways in which to implement usage of them into a classroom. "To teach these technologies effectively, educators must learn to use them effectively." (Richardson, 2009, p136)  For me, blogs, wikis and podcasts are no longer intimidating like they were 8 weeks ago.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). 2008. The Changing Role of the Classroom Teacher Part 1. [Motion picture]. Baltimore: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). 2008. The Changing Role of the Classroom Teacher Part 2. [Motion picture]. Baltimore: Author.

Prensky, M. (2005). Listen to the natives. Educational Leadership, 63(4), 8–13.

Prensky, M. (2008). Turning on the lights. Educational Leadership, 65(6), 40-45.

Keengwe, J., Onchwari, G., & Wachira, P. (2008). The use of computer tools to support meaningful learning. AACE Journal, 16(1), 77–92

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

Friday, December 4, 2009

Podcast ~ Technology Use In and Out of School

(image courtesy of

Most students these days have access to a variety of "basic tools or digital containers for managing content" (November, 2008)  Students are considered to be "digital natives" (Prensky, 2001) because not only do they use technology, they use a variety of digital tools, are extremely confortable using them, and are "good at multi-tasking" (McHale, 2008) while using technology.  It is evident from listening to this podcast that the students speaking, are indeed "digital natives".  These students were randomly picked and are not associated with each other at school, but they all have something in common, and that is the technology they use, the amount of time they use it, and how they use it.  Another similiarity is that all three interviewees state that they spend very little time using technology in school.  Thus proving that there is a widening gap between technology used at home and in schools."  (Miners & Pascopella, 2007)

McHale, T. (2008). Portrait of a digital native. Technology & Learning. Retrieved from
November, A. (2008). Banning student 'containers'. Technology & Learning. Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5).

Miners, Z., & Pascopella, A. (2007). The new literacies.  District Administration, 43(10), 26-34. Used by permission.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

The youth of today will be the workforce of tomorrow. According to Dr. David Thornburg, these students will need to be equipped with a "different skill set than was needed by previous generations." (Laureate Education Inc, 2008) Educators, society, businesses and politicians all know that in order to stay current with technological skills, and maintain a competitive edge in the global arena, that our students need to acquire 21st century skills. An organization called the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is an advocate for realigning education so that 21st century skills can be infused into the classroom curriculum.

Looking over the Partnership for 21st Century skills website, I was surprised to see the list of members that make up this organization. It is quite impressive. Members range from prominent educational book publishing companies like Pearson, to giant international software companies such as Microsoft. The website is easy to navigate, and has a wealth of resources. Many of the resources such as Standard and Assessment guidelines, and Information, Media and Technology guidelines created by Partnerships for 21st century skills, are downloadable and free, which is definitely a plus. Another nice feature to the website is that it also is linked to current articles and press releases regarding education.

Overall this website is a great resource for educators and administrators to use as a tool to get organized and started on integrating 21st century skills in the classroom. The Partnership for 21st century skills "has developed a unified, collective vision for 21st century learning that will strengthen American education." ("The Partnership for." 2004)

I did notice when reviewing the standards and assessments on the website that they seemed to be very generic, with not much detail provided.  If I was a school district wanting to follow the suggested pathways given on the website, as represented by an "arched framework" outline, to integrate 21st century skills, I would expect to have clear and concise information in this area, ready to be implemented instead of having to take additionaly time to recreate or align to standards from other sources.

The implications of converting the classrooms of today to ones that the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is advocating for will be positive for both students and educators. Student learning will be focused on learning "foundational skills", (Laureate Education Inc. 2008) which is essential for them to"not only survive, but thrive" (Laureate Education Inc. 2008) in the ever changing workplace of the future. Teachers will have a learning curve to overcome in learning new technological skills and aligning the new 21st century skills to standards.  Time and professional development opportunities will be required by school districts, and the tradeoff will be that teachers will become better digital citizens and gain greater confidence in using digital tools.

Ultimately, we are all responsible for ensuring the "success of our students, not only in school and work, but in life." ("The Partnership for." 2004)  By ensuring that teachers get what they need, such as equipment, training, and time; in return our students will get what they need, the skills for professional and personal success.  Education is always one of the first areas to recieve budget cuts, but it should be the last. Is education worth the expense?.  Let me ask you this, as you age, what skills would you like your doctor to have, how skillful would you like your lawyer to be?  The students of today are going to be the future citizens of tomorrow.  Lets invest in our future.

(2004) The Partnership for 21st Century Skills.  Retrieved from

Thornburg, D., & Davidson, H. Skills for the 21st Century (Luareate Education, Inc. 2008)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My First Blog ~ Marcella Lessard

Hello fellow bloggers!  This is my first attempt at having my own blog and keeping it going.  I am in the process of getting my Masters degree, and to be honest, creating a blog was a requirement for one of my classes.  In case you haven't gotten around to reading the "about me" section to the right, I would like to mention that I teach Technology classes at a Career and Technical school in the state of Maine. Mostly Business and Technology classes, such as Desktop Publishing, Intro to HTML, and Microsoft classes. I am Microsoft 2007 certified, and on average 15 to 20  students pass certification each year after taking my classes.  This national certification is not easy to pass, and  last year, for the first time, one of my ELL students passed the certification exam.  We were both ecstatic, he worked very hard for this, and I was especially proud of him.  I would like to have more moments like this.

I have created this blog in hopes that I may find other educators that teach in the same content areas as I do, or have ideas on how to use new technologies.  I would especially love to hear from anyone out there who has ideas on how to make my Microsoft word class more engaging.  I am looking for fun things to do in that class once every other week or so to make the class more energized and interesting.  This is a facilitated class, 9-12 grade students, with a wide range of levels.  I have pondered on how to make this class more appealing, and have been unsuccessful.  I am hoping that someone will see this blog and be able to help.

If anyone would like to share ways in which they are using wikis and blogs in the classroom, I am also open to new teaching ideas in this area too, and my students would be very appreciative.