Are we preparing our students for the 21st century?

Our school’s need to adapt the most effective educational methodologies to produce literate, technologically superior, and democratic citizens for the 21st century.

“Kids spend much of the day as their great-grandparents once did: sitting in rows, listening to teachers traditional classrooms lecture, scribbling notes by hand, reading from textbooks that are out of date by the time they are printed” written by Claudia Wallus from Time Magazine author of How to Bring Our Schools Out of the 20th century.

The new 21st century school should be a true student-centered approach within the classroom. Students need to learn to think and apply information from a plethora of disciplines and new technology. Students need to be taught what’s reliable and what is not in this digital age of endless technology and information.

Technology graphic

Check out this great article from the Huffington Post  written by Lisa Nielsen from her blog called The Innovative Educator or find her @InnovativeEdu

According to Lisa Nielsen from Innovative Educator: our school’s must catch up to the 21st century by encouraging teaches and students to create:

1. Personal Learning Networks
Perhaps the core of passion driven, self-directed learning is the development of personal learning networks which can be developed through blogs, social networks like Facebook, Ning, or, Twitter, and discussion boards. Read “5 Things You Can Do to Begin Developing Your Personal Learning Network,” “The PLN Matures. The Progression of the 21st Century Personal Learning Network” and “5 Ways to Build Your 1.0 and 2.0 Personal Learning Network to learn how to get started.”

2. Skype an Expert
You can make your classroom a global communication center for free with Skype by connecting with anyone around the world about topics of interests. These experts may be people you have conversations with or perhaps they are people you learn from. Author, blogevangelist, teacher, thought leader and father, Will Richarson uses Skype to supplement his children’s learning. Paul Bogush, an 8th grade social studies teacher not only supports his students in doing this, they take it up a notch with a program they produce called Lunchtime Leaders. Students interview leaders from around the world on their opinions about what they should do to be prepared for the future. Paul and his students do most of their interviews using Skype and they turn the interviews into Podcast. You can listen to their podcasts at where students choose to interview experts in topics they are interested in and then turn their interview into a podcast.

3. Authentic Publishing
In the 21st century, irrelevant hand-it-in teaching should be a thing of the past. If a student’s work has no authentic audience beyond the teacher, it shouldn’t be assigned. A student who is self-motivated to do something, counts, btw. A teacher directing him/her to do it does not. Most 21st century kids love to share with real audiences and are doing it outside school already. Inside school, work should not sit lifeless on a computer, or even just the school website. Support students in finding real audiences for their work in their Global Community. If you’re not sure how find out by reading, “21st Century Educators Don’t Say, ‘Hand It In.’ They say, “Publish It!”

4. Use YouTube and iTunes to Learn Anything
It’s rather outrageous that many schools still block one of the most powerful tools for learning available for students today: YouTube. While iTunes is a powerful option for learners on the go, YouTube adds the visual element, making learning even more powerful and FREE! With YouTube Education and iTunes University, more and more colleges, universities, and their professors are sharing content for free. While some schools are paying for pre-packaged online learning options, they’re really all already out there for free. Empower teachers and/or students to design their own learning and learn about whatever they want with these free resources. Not only are these good resources to go to learn from others, they’re also a smart place to ask for help like this student did who needed help with his bowdrill set.

5. Develop Authentic Learning Portfolios
When done right ePortfolios can be a powerful tool that not only helps remind students of all their accomplishments, but it also enables them to share these with the world. In the 21st century, creating an ePortfolio is free and easy. Student simply select a container (blog, wiki, website, Google site), decide how they’d like to organize it, and then post their work. I strongly advise against using any paid for portfolio site. It is important that students have ownership of their own work and that it can travel with them wherever they are. When it comes to ePortfolios, Helen Barrett is the go-to person. To learn more, visit her blog where she shares fantastic ideas.

In our globally connected world, it is no longer acceptable for teachers to teach the way they were taught nor is it okay for administrators to allow it. It is also no longer acceptable for administrators to take the easy way out and require connected kids to learn in a disconnected environment where they are banned from accessing sites or bringing to school the tools and technologies they love and need to succeed in the world. In the 21st century, if we truly care about student success we will lift the bans, unblock the filters and connect our students to the world so they can learn effectively.

For more information visit:

Lisa Nielsen’s blog:  The Innovative Educator or find her @InnovativeEdu

Huffington Post article: Is your child’s school leaving him/her behind? by Lisa Nielsen

Time Magazine: How to bring our nation’s schools out of the 20th century? by Claudia Wallis

Top 35 of the Best Web 2.0 Technology

The Best of the Best- from Edudemic You can view the live stream of @edchat here and see what people are saying at the @chickenweb2tools here.

Wordle: 21st century teacher

They scoured hundreds of responses and have come up with the following list for the best web 2.0 technology.  I thought I would share them.

The List

  • Glogster
    Great way to share posters and images you’ve made with friends
  • Edmodo
    Social learning environment and one of the best ways to teach with tech
    Free application to brainstorm online
  • Twitter
    The micro blogging service that many love or hate.
  • WordPress
    Content publishing system. It’s gone way beyond just blogging.
  • Prezi
    Innovative way to share presentations without PowerPoint
  • Wallwisher
    An online notice board maker (or bulletin board if you choose)
  • Animoto
    Make beautiful videos from images in a snap
  • Blabberize
    Make your images talk…that’s right.
  • Weebly
    Create your own website or blog, very easy to use
  • Flickr
    Popular photo-sharing site now lets you print
  • Slideshare
    Don’t waste your presentation after it’s over, share it with millions!
  • Audioboo
    Easily record and share audio
  • VoiceThread
  • GoogleDocs
    The top real-time document creating and editing cloud-based system
  • GoogleSites
    Make your own website while knowing nothing about websites!
  • Diigo
    Popular social bookmarking site
  • GoogleEarth
    View anywhere in the world anytime
  • Wordle
    Create a beautiful aggregation of any amount of text
  • Wikis
    Crowdsourcing at its finest. Like Wikipedia, Wikispaces is very helpful
  • Wix
    Easily make your own flash-based website
  • Ning
    Despite a new cost-based membership program, Ning allows you to have your own social network
  • Primarypad
    Web-based word processor
  • Spicy Nodes
    Innovative way to organize your web visits
  • Delicious
    One of the top social bookmarking sites on the web
  • Myebook
    Virtually publish your book and sell it
  • Voki
    Get your own avatar and even have it talk with your voice
  • DoInk
    Create animations using this simple website
  • Warning Sign Generator
    Make your own caution and warning signs in a flash!
  • Scratch
    Create and share stories, games, art, etc.
  • Kerpoof
    Cool way to make a movie, card, picture, and share it all
  • Tagxedo
    Like Wordle but a step farther as text can be used to build bigger images
  • SmartKiddies
    Creative math and other educational problems to help everyone learn
  • Bitstrips
    Make and share your own comic strips with thousands of others

Added in the comments and via Twitter:

  • Popplet
    An easy way to share visual ideas
  • Storyjumper
    Easy way to create your own stories for kids and bring them to life
  • Aviary Myna
    Make your own music or remix just about anything else
  • TimeToast
    Fantastic timeline visualization tool to understand history
  • GoAnimate for schools
    State of the art animation tools for schools
  • PBWorks
    Thousands of educational wikis and workspaces (build your own!)
  • Schoology
    Learning management, online education tools, and much more
  • Google Timeline
    A unique way to view the news
  • Online-Convert
    Convert anything to anything (audio, video, text, etc.)
  • ReadWriteThink
    Tons of classroom resources and PD goodies
  • Storybird
    Build your own stories (with images) and share them with others
  • Word Magnets
    Phonics reinforcement and sentence building exercise
  • Museum Box
    Innovative way to understand history
  • Atmosphir
    A build-your-own video game
  • Empressr
    Rich media presentation tool
  • Zoho
    A great alternative to Google Apps
  • EasyBib
    The free automatic bibliography and citation maker
  • ToonDooSpaces
    Easily publish custom comic strips
  • Crocodoc
    Annotate and edit PDFs

Wunderlist- No more paper to do lists

Wunderlist is probably my new favorite tech tool. I was looking for a way to eliminate endless to do “paper” lists as well as post it’s on my desk. Wunderlist is a wonderful and FREE tool that allows you to create a plethora of to do lists from food shopping to school work. The application can be downloaded to any computer or smart phone.

The wonderful benefit of this tool is that it syncs between all your computers and hand held devices. You can even share tasks or lists with friends, colleagues, or family members.

How I use it? I created a different tab for each day of the week. I write my tasks for each day whether it’s a staff meeting or a paper to grade. I delete my tasks as I complete them and if I don’t complete them on a particular day I simply drag them to a different day.


  • No more post it notes
  • Syncs between all your tech devices
  • Collaboration of projects and lists
  • You’ll never misplace a list again

Check out wunderlist:


I just discovered Livebinders through Tina and Barbara @LiveBinders on Twitter. It seems like an interesting idea to build a binder to organize all your information.

LiveBinder is easy to use and it allows you to collect your resources, organize them, and present them in a useful manner. I could see this being a useful resource for parents looking for homework help or resources to help their kids. It also seems like a nice way to create a research project about a particular topic and encourage students to explore and learn the material in an interesting manner.

For more information: What is livebinder?