Friday, December 28, 2012

Great Example of 21st Century Learning Part 1

During the last couple of weeks before the holidays, I participated in and watched two student activities that were engaging and demonstrated the 21st century skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity at a level that made me proud to work at PFTSTA. I am going to tell the story of one of these examples in this post and save the other for another post. 


All the Knowledge You Need to Survive College
by Allie and Tiffany

The top two students in the senior class were the only students taking Gifted Projects this past semester. In this course, they could design a project of interest to them that would carry them through the whole semester. Since they were both applying to a number of colleges, forefront in their minds was college and the process for taking the next step in their education. They seemed very confident about this process, but there was one aspect that both of them felt totally unprepared. They really thought their skills in cleaning and mending clothes, cooking, finances and budgeting, healthy living and decorating on the cheap were sorely lacking. They wanted to spend the semester creating a document that would give them and their friends all the tools to survive college outside of the realm of academics. 

Cover of book
When I heard about this, I immediately thought they needed to start curating websites. Most of their information was going to come from the web, so I thought that they needed a way to organize this info and access it quickly. I knew these girls would want it to look attractive so I ruled out Delicious and Diigo, both curation tools that I love. Pinterest would have been my tool of choice, but unfortunately it is blocked at our school. So I dug around and came up with Sqworl. I first explained to them what curation meant, and then I showed them several curation sites that might work for them. The teacher and the students all thought Sqworl would work best for what they wanted to do. If you want to visit their collection of websites, open here for their Sqworl. The next part of this project was the creation of a book offering a chapter on each topic for survival. I thought that this was a great idea, but when I saw the final project I was blown away. Inside they list tips for each topic and give links to some of the great websites that they found, but they also used QR codes so the reader could get to the links easily on a smart phone. Then one of the last days of school before the winter break, Allie came to me with her laptop open to a site that sells eBooks. It took some work to format it correctly, but they uploaded their work to a site so that their book would be available for a $7.99 purchase. What a great idea! Their teacher was familiar with the site, and she encouraged them to do it. If you would like to check this site out or purchase the book, open here

Critical Thinking: designed the project, decided topics of interest, decided what sites to feature and decided how to present what they learned to others
Creativity: chose a product, designed the product to make it user friendly
Collaboration: worked closely together to complete the project and collaborated with their teacher and librarian
Communication: made formal power point presentation at the end of the semester to a group of their peers and teachers, put together a written document, curated sites that could be shared, and  put the book up for sale in electronic format

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