Quest for the 21st Century Classroom

Last year I was given the task of finding a 21st century classroom. Being the geek-turned-teacher I am, I imagined smart boards on every wall and touch screen devices for every student.
So we visited a few schools and spoke to their teachers and students. Some had iPads for every student. Some had technology over five years old. But we still didn’t see what we thought was a 21st century classroom. So I kept researching. I looked at the ISTE NETS standards but they looked broad, vague, and written in 2007! That’s a lifetime ago in the technology world. I expected to see things like tablets, tweets, and Skype in these standards. But they weren’t. I kept digging. And the more I dug, the more the letter C kept coming up: connection, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, citizenship, creativity, choice, celebration. Technology was barely mentioned. Finally, my techie brain realized that a 21st century is about students first and technology second. Those skills were what made a 21st century class with technology used to support them. Connecting through blogs, communicating through Skype, collaborating through wikis, and so on. A 21st century classroom looks behind its four walls and connects to classrooms down the hall, across campus, across town, country and throughout the world. These are not things you always see when you walk into a classroom. They don’t always take the latest technology to succeed. But what they do take is a brave teacher and willing students who are ready to explore the great unknown and learn as they go. And isn’t that what teaching is all about?

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