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ABPC 21st Century Learners Quarterly Meeting

Posted Jan 07 2009 6:27pm

While I obviously haven't been blogging- I have been fast at it. I would say I have been busy, but Dean Shareski (our new convener for K12Online )  has taught me we are all busy a nd I am not suppose to talk about how busy I am, but rather just talk about what I have been up to lately.

I keep a running "to-do" board above my desk. Lately, there have been too many "to-do" items to fit them all. My life is full of meaning, exciting and that word I am not suppose to say (whispering ...busy). So busy in fact that I forgot to share about one of my most passionate interests.

ABPC 21st Century Learners- Year 3 Culminating
Anyone who has followed me knows that one true passion I have is the incredible work I am helping to deliver in Alabama around 21st Century literacies. On May 1 we had our culminating celebration for this year's 21st Century Learners journey.


What Was Different in Year 3?
In a word-- students. ABPC's leader, Cathy Gassenheimer felt this year's project with schools needed to have an clear connection to student achievement.  We wanted to developmentally move teachers along the continuum of use and understanding of the transformative potential of 21st Century teaching and learning strategies to actually applying them in the classroom.

We created a student strand and added students as members of the team. Together we looked at how to change teaching to a self-directed process tied to student passion and rigor, as well are core curriculum standards.

During the culminating event students and other team members were led in a fishbowl exercise that turned out to be the most enlightening experience I have had so far in working towards 21st Century educational reform. Students were asked hard questions about how they learn best and evidence of those strategies used by teachers in classrooms. They were asked what do teachers need to change to be the kind of teachers that would help you learn best? Their answers were profound and I realized for the first time I think-- if we would just ask kids what they need, they know and would tell us. Wow. What a concept.

Here are some of the projects from Alabama this year:


Our theme is:  Taking Technology to the next level- The competitive level.

Our teachers have worked in harmony to help our students take their individual projects to the competitive level.  We decided to encourage and help our students to compete on the local and state level using 21st century skills we have introduced and use in the classroom throughout the year. Winning at this level helped validate that we can compete in the local and state arena using these newly acquired skills.  The publicity has also been great for the entire county.  It has been a great success.  We will display our students’ medal winning projects along with the bling bling they have won in the process. 

West Blocton

For our student project, we created a wiki. On this wiki, the students would choose a book to read that they wanted to carry on a conversation about in the wiki. Then, they would rate the book. Next, they would write why they rated the book the way they did. The next few sentences had to include a comprehension strategy that they used while reading the book. Whichever strategy they used, they had to support it with text and tell what detail from the story made them use that strategy. Then, they would write a sentence to try to encourage others to read the book, even if they gave it a low rating.

Finally, they would look at other responses other students had made and carry on a conversation about their book.

Hewitt-TrussvilleMiddle School

Our team created a wiki as a resource for the teachers.  The wiki contains descriptions, examples, and uses for 21 st tools in the classroom.  The wiki also contains information about project based learning. 

You can find out wiki at

Challenger Middle School
Challenger 21 st Century Team Group project:

Our professional development project is called "iTeach 2.0" and we invited the middle schools in our district to become a part of iTeach 2.0. Each school sent two teachers to a workshop we sponsored to learn about 21st century tools. We established a wiki for our team and participants to use to share ideas. Our April face to face meeting was a type of fair where each school shared a tool or project that they successfully used this semester. Our computer will display screen shots from our wiki and our display board will define data collected and cool tools explored during this year’s iTeach workshops. Our wiki is

Student Project:

We invited 18 students to commit their own time to work on a project they would select. Twelve saw the project to completion. We gave three basic guidelines: the students must develop their project around an issue that affects teens, the project must help someone, and the project must be communicated using technology tools.  Our students brainstormed on their own private wiki and were very passionate about teen issues! They decided that they wanted to work on a project related to poverty. The students then researched and decided that they wanted to adopt an impoverished school in another country, which led them to
Uganda.They formed an Invisible Children Club to raise money.

The students created posters, a website and a multi-media embedded PowerPoint to present to the student body. They learned so much about war torn

Ugandaand the suffering of the children there. They have a basic knowledge of how this war started. The amazing part is that we have not taught this information to our students. They have taken a project with very few guidelines and have learned so much! For this year, the project culminated in a fund-raiser, which raised $1778 in 3 days! This has become a project that encompasses many of the 21st century skills. Our students are learning about society, geography/history, communication, discernment, teamwork and many other skills.  We will display a computer with a timeline/info about their project work and their presentation.  We will have an additional computer with screen shots of their webpage. Their website is

George Hall Elementary
Collaboration is the main thesis for our project. This year collaboration projects includes Skype interview with Janis Kearney, diarist for Bill Clinton and author of "Cotton Fields of Dreams",  Elluminate session with children from the Dominican Republic and a weekly Skype collaboration with 5th grade students in West Blocton Al. We continued the wiki field trip project using Scaling where the students were proactive in the production of the projects to go online.

Blossomwood Elementary's team project for 2007-2008 has been to obtain more technology resources for classrooms and adequately train teachers on how to use these resources.  Promethean ACTIV boards have been purchased for all classroom units and teachers have attended both training at school and online training from Promethean.  Today, Blossomwood is displaying some sample classroom flipcharts, as well as flipcharts that were used to train the faculty.

Clay-Chalkville High School
We will be presenting a Power Point presentation that highlights some of the work that our teachers have created with their classes to enhance student learning, as well as to promote communication between the classroom and the home.

For instance, we have teachers that have created wikis with the main purpose to keep the students and parents updated on assignments and projects that are coming up. At the same time, other teachers use blogs to allow the students become more involved in the learning process.

Middle School

Middle School will showcase our journey from local to global connections through a photostory.  We will highlight our challenges and how we have overcome them.  We will also share our current projects that will lead us to district wide integration of Web 2.0 tools.

Sharing Web 2.0 Tools
Mt Laurel Elementary School is a K-3 school right outside of Birmingham. We are in our second year with the 21st Century Learning Team.

Our team's focus project was sharing Web 2.0 tools with our faculty. We conducted a survey to determine awareness and use of Web 2.0 tools and found that very few were aware of Web 2.0 tools, and even fewer were using them.

As a team we compiled a resource list of Web 2.0 tools. We held a meeting with our teachers and presented an awareness training to share the uses of each tool. We shared examples of how we had been using these tools and how students could benefit from using Web 2.0. We also encouraged them to let us help them set-up any of the tools they would think they would like to use in their classroom.

As of today, the number of teachers that are using Web 2.0 tools has changed by 60%, compared to when we initially took our survey. We now have grade levels participating in projects and teachers using these tools to create works with their students. We have teachers participating in book studies using Wiki’s, classes and parents blogging, podcasting galore, but most of all the awareness of the many tools that are available to each of them to enhance their class lessons and projects.

Cullman Middle School

Collaborative project-based teaching aligned to state content standards, reviewed by students. That is our lofty goal with this wiki. For 2008, we have selected 4 courses to focus on: Social Studies, grades 7 and 8 AND Computer Applications, grades 7 and 8

This project is designed in conjunction with the Alabama Best Practices Center's 21st Century Schools professional development. The project will be developed by a team of teachers and students from Cullman Middle School.

We hope that this will be a treasured resource for educators across the state, the country, and the world. Depending upon the success of the site, we hope to add additional areas of study in the future. We recognize the level of learning and retention of learning that project-based lessons hold for students, as well as the interest it adds to classes. On the outset, this seems like a project designed to aid teachers, and it will do that, but more importantly, this project will aid students in fostering a deeper interest in learning. With the Computer Applications courses, we are fortunate to be embarking upon new territory. At this time there are not specific standards for grade levels, only grade bands. This project will assist us in focusing on learning objectives and organizing those objectives in a sensible format. The student team will be comprised of students involved in

Cullman Middle School's SWAT (students willing to assist with technology) team. The teacher team will select a student team leader that will serve as a liaison to the teacher team.

Dean Road Elementary School

Our team sought to showcase the various ways we use the Smart Board to communicate more effectively among staff members and students. An immense part of our daily communication begins each day with our morning broadcast, WDRE, which features fourth and fifth grade students as broadcasters. Other grade levels are involved by reciting the pledge of allegiance and sharing the daily weather. All parts of the broadcast are viewed through the use of the Smart Board.

Not only do we begin our day with the Smart Board we also use this valuable learning tool in many other ways throughout the day. We display our morning messages, share interactive websites embedded in our daily lessons, and research an endless amount of information that can be easily displayed for all to see. This beneficial tool as helped foster communication through shared lessons created on the Smart Board software that assists teachers in planning and presenting the curriculum in a way that increases the students’ motivation to learn. The Smart Board, found in all classrooms, has become an irreplaceable learning tool that teachers and students just can’t seem to live without.

Fayetteville High School

The Fayetteville High School team has led a 21st Century Learners initiative for 10 schools throughout Talladega County. Modeled after the training sponsored by the ABPC, the FHS team, along with other teachers from Winterboro School, have served as mentors to over 20 teachers in their school system.  The team will display the materials used for this project as well as evaluations from some of the participants in the program .

Wrights Mill Road Elementary

Tech-Know Expo
5th grade students brainstormed topics related to technology that interest them.  Then, they volunteered to teach those topics they felt they were “Tech-sperts” in.  The students prepared presentations for the younger grades and invited parents and members of the community to attend.  Topics ranged from “Lights, Camera, Pinnacle in Action,” to iPod 101 and “How to Convince Your Parents to Let You Get A Cell Phone.”  Students taught about blogging, making avatars, using Blabber, and the latest and greatest in text messaging.

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