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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Journey to Becoming 21st Century Educators (Part 4 of 4): Giving Them What They Need

{by Gail Tolbert}

This is my last of four blogs about many of my friends and connections who are educators, educators at different stages in their career, educators wanting to become 21st Century Educators (Read the first one here) This is my 4th and final blog about my friends’ journeys’ to become 21st Century Educators.

As I listen to their different stories, I see a commonality, a dream, a need, a tool……and it makes me think how we are changing to meet the needs of the 21st Century Learner and how we need to change to meet the needs of the 21st Century Educator too. A great philosopher said that if we are teaching today the same way we taught yesterday, then we are not preparing our students for tomorrow. I stretch this thought to our educators…if we are giving our teachers the same tools today that they used yesterday; then we are not providing them the tools they need for tomorrow.

The good news is that we do not need to create these tools; these tools have been developed, are ready for use and can be accessible to teachers. These web based systems are changing the way we gather information and improving the way we manage our work and providing us with real time, up to date information. I know this as a fact because I have seen them, I have used them and I have seen the amazing results that they offer.

Let me be specific, there are tools to help Christy that will allow her to easily and quickly create and manage her own web site including all the social networking tools. She can easily use advanced editing and design and add class pictures, videos, lesson plans, etc. She can communicate with parents and students; assign homework, add class notes and announcements, a class calendar and links to any resources. Lindsay no longer needs to dream; there are curriculum management tools and the most advanced ones provide an intuitive and easy to use way for teachers to have access to edit, update, collaborate, and share the work they do with curriculum on a daily basis. Some districts think they have all these capabilities…when all they really have are some static documents on their website. These static tools are no longer effective in the ever changing educational environment. Curriculum management means aligning to state standards, mapping and pacing guides, scope and sequence, integration of standards right into lessons, providing teachers with a guide to what, when, and how to teach lessons and give assessments so students achieve their maximum potential. Units and lessons become living documents with reports and search capabilities. District and school administrators use unit map reports and curriculum reports to identify gaps or overlaps in curriculum, review units aligned to state standards, review resources for units and obtain user activity information.

Dawn needs access to an on line testing and assessment tool. She can create her assessments and test questions, access questions from a question bank, schedule the test, and have real time access to all the results by class, content, teacher, student, test or question item. This online testing tool can gather test results, align the test and question to state standards and have an incredible amount of information to improve instructional strategies for her class and each student. To expand on this data, Susan can use an analytical tool that “ slices and dices” student information.Need student data from a certain test, year, class, or individual? No problem, she would have it. She can aggregate the data or look at the data from many attributes. She too can have real time access to student performance data. This analytical tool can not only gather student test results, but can store data and create comprehensive reports with custom dashboards for every school in the district.

Today’ s educators are just like today’ s learners; they need accessible technology especially for analyzing and managing what they do in the classroom. They need this revolutionary technology
for their 21st Century journeys.

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