Strong Nests, Successful Students: Skills & Strategies for 21st Century Learning

Birds are constantly rebuilding and strengthening their nests. Strong nests provide a nurturing environment for chicks to grow. The introduction of the revised standards allows us a chance to rebuild our teaching and learning nest. Are you building a strong foundation for your students?

Explore practical ideas and strategies for addressing the skills needed by 21st century learners. Through collaborations among media specialists, technology coordinators, administrators, and classroom teachers, we can motivate and challenge students across the curriculum.

New Technologies

Before jumping into the new standards, let's explore the new technologies associated with these standards.

Learn more about Web 2.0 technology.

There are lots of Web 2.0 tools that allow people to collaborate and share. Keep in mind that these are not specifically designed for young people. Try some of these:

Seek out educational versions of Web 2.0 tools and the unique features of Web 2.0 tools such as online sharing and publishing.

New Standards

Many states have recently updated their standards to reflect the needs of 21st century children and young adults. For instance, Iowa's Core Curriculum stresses 21st Century skills across the curriculum.

ISTE and AASL have recently updated their student standards. If you're already addressing the old standards, now is your chance to revisit your curriculum and reconnect with the teachers in your building. It's also a great opportunity to infusion Web 2.0 applications and other new technologies across the curriculum.

Explore the NETS - National Educational Technology Standards from ISTE.

  1. Creativity and Innovation
  2. Communication and Collaboration
  3. Research and Information Fluency
  4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  5. Digital Citizenship
  6. Technology Operations and Concepts

Students write a historical fiction book called That A Man Can Stand by Decatur Discovery Academy Grades 7-8 and publish it on Lulu.

Explore the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner from AASL.

  1. inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge;
  2. draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge;
  3. share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society;
  4. pursue personal and aesthetic growth.

Students read a graphic novel such as Laika by Nick Abadzis and create their own comic using Comic Life exploring the fact and fiction in the book.

Ask Yourself: Are these elements addressed in the curriculum? Where?

My test for the new standards is whether they could result in motivating young people to go beyond the basics and ask high level questions. Will they challenge and engage young people in meaningful activities and assessments?

These standards matter because they are about...

Elements for Nesting

Examine the standards. Think about how they can be combined with content area standards to begin rebuilding and strengthening your curricula nest.

Favorite Parts. Both sets of standards do a great job focusing on the following areas:

wingsJounrey to the Bottomless Pit

Favorite Parts of ISTE Standards

Favorite Parts of AASL Standards

New Strategies

strategy 1Strategy 1.
Design Learning Environments.
Shift your focus from designing instruction, to creating learning environments that immerse young people in information and technology.

Provide young people with PowerPoint Sidekicks and Desktop Learning Spaces such as Farms to get young people started.

Rethink your use of Google. Explore examples of how Google can be used throughout the inquiry process with the Fire Disaster example.

Bring history alive through the use of primary source materials:

strategy 2Strategy 2.
Stress Social/Emotional Aspects
Think about the perspective of your students. How are you meeting their social and emotional needs through designing technology-rich activities?

Provide an online "home" using easy-to-use tools such as Google Sites. Check out Cybernauts.

For mathematics, check out Mr. Kuropatwa's Classes (Applied Math 40S - W07, W08, PreCalc 20S - F06, PreCalc 30S - F06, PreCal 40S - F06, W06, W07, APCalc AB - W07, Calc 45S - S06). He uses blogs, collaboration, and images to enhance the social and emotional aspects of his classes.

The Day the World Exploded

strategy 3Strategy 3.
Connect to Content Areas.
See the big picture. Combine information and technology standards to update content standards.

Read The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester (adpated by Dwight Zimmerman). Connect social studies, science, and technology standards! Use historical photos, maps, and other resources from Wikipedia, USGS, USGS Krakatau, and other websites.

Involves students in creating remixes. “Remix means to take cultural artifacts and combine and manipulate them into new kinds of creative blends.” (Knobel and Lankshear, 2008)

strategy 4Strategy 4.
Reinvent with Technology Tools.
Use technology to address those things that are difficult without technology including discussions and collaborative writing. For instance, wikis provide a unique environment for collaboration and sharing.

One of my online friends (Nancy Bosch) shared a pirate unit. They were able to connect to standards across the curriculum and used a variety of technologies. Students read the Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson. Students participated in online discussions using a Moodle. Go to the official website. Be sure download the teacher discussion guide. Check other discussion guides: 1, 2, 3, 4. The class also created a wiki on the topic of pirates. Students enjoyed dressing as pirates as they worked on their research.

Learn more about integrating wikis into the classroom at Read Write Wiki! Check out Grandma's Feather Bed, Great Fuzz Frenzy, Kick in the Head, and Poke in the I .

Use starters found in PowerPoint Sidekicks: Book Blasts such as the Step into Reading sidekick (PPT).

Mud Soup

strategy 5Strategy 5.
Build Bridges.
Reach beyond your school. Create home-school-community connections through real-world assignments and projects. Get parents and community members involved with what's happening at school. Help young people see that what happens in school has applications beyond the walls of the school.

Read Mud Soup by Judith Head, then use All Recipes as a tool for collecting cultural recipes. By tagging their recipe, they can search and find other recipes with the same ingredients or the same cultural background. They can become part of the global community, get parents and the local community involved, or simply share within a "private recipe box" area.

Share resources with parents and encourage them to participate. For instance, Journey North programs such as Hummingbirds can be followed at home.

Join LibraryThing. Start class and family discussion groups. For a sample LibraryThing example, go to Annette Lamb's LibraryThing Profile and Catalog.

Read Good Master! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz. Go to YouTube, TeacherTube, and SchoolTube for re-enactments. Create your own community historical re-enactment! Teach about professions through using video and Google presentations. Go to Philosophers. Check out the Introducing the Book for fun. Create a Build a Kingdom project.

A mash-up is a web application hybrid. It combines data or functionality from two or more sources to create something new. These have become increasingly popular with Web 2.0 applications such as blogs, maps, and photo networks.

strategy 2Strategy 6.
Be a Model.
Use public domain images, cite sources and apply information and technology across the curriculum.

Go to Wikimedia Commons. Do a search for an animal. Notice all the public domain and open source materials available for young people to use.

Use visuals to engage young people in writing. The key to an effective wiki writing project is creating a positive, supportive environment for writing. Go to Annette Griessman's blog on Writing Good Fiction. It contains some wonderful visual story starters, and ideas for getting started with plot, setting, characters. Think about ways to incorporate student brainstorming and creative writing into your own wiki project.

Try using the images resources available at popular websites such as Colonial Williamsburg. Try Desktop Starters and Learning Stations such as Jobs: Now and Then (PPT).

New Technologies for New Standards

Look for creative solutions and new opportunities.

Learn more about connecting traditional and new technologies to address standards at Literature Ladders: Linking Books and Internet Resources. Explore technology tools and resources related to the book Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo.

Bring Learning Tools, Spaces, and Learners together with meaningful assignments, assessments, and opportunities for sharing. For instance, young people learning about the Civil Rights movement created short re-enactments of key historical events and shared them on the Apple Learning Interchange. Check out Apple Learning Interchange and Rosa Parks Movie. You could also use TeacherTube and SchoolTube

Learning Tools

Learning Spaces


Learn more about learning tools, learning spaces, and learners at High Tech Learning.

Build Nests

Desktop Starters and Learning Stations such as DogKu (PPT), Let's Tell Tall Tales (PPT), or Bones (PPT). For more ideas, go to PowerPoint Sidekicks.

If you'd like to continue the discussion or add your thoughts or resources, please go to the ISTE Standards wiki.

Developed by Annette Lamb, 6/22/2008. Updated 10/2010.