BABY STEPS – Ten Steps to Transforming Past Lessons for 21st Century Learners

30 Jan
Michael Gorman has outlined a very straightforward and instructive series of steps for the digital immigrant to take to transform past practice into cutting edge instruction.  He follows the trusty advice, “Baby Steps.”  Read below for more.

Baby Steps

Ten Steps to Transforming Past Lessons for 21st Century Learners
by Michael Gorman

It is important to look at successful prior lessons and infuse these past successes with technology and 21st century skills. I often refer to this in my Jukebox to iPod presentation. When looking at this transformation it is obvious that technology made a past great idea even better. Teachers must realize that they have a vault of awesome activities that have proven to be successful with students. Many times these perennial gems can be reinvented, mixed, and transformed to bring about a new 21st century lesson that will be even more engaging and applicable to today’s digital learner. The more I have worked with teachers, the more I have seen a need to build a concrete method for transforming these past lessons. I would like to introduce you to Ten Steps to Transforming Past Lessons for 21st Century Learners. I have even included a document I call Transforming-a-lesson-with-technology that teachers can use with this post to turn their jukeboxes into iPods.  Please take a moment to discover, and feel free to share and use.  Make sure you visit my 21centuryedtech Blog and also follow me on Twitter at mjgormans. There will be some great posts coming as together, we discover learning in the 21st Century! Now on to transformation… and have a great week! – Mike

Ten Steps to Transforming Past Lessons for 21st Century Learners – Jukebox to iPod!

Feel Free To Download Document To Use While Reading: Transforming-a-lesson-with-technology

  1. Locate that special lesson – Find that successful lesson from the past that you wish to transform. This can be one single lesson or may include a project filled with several lessons. While the  form provided has been built for single lessons… multiple forms could be incorporated for an entire unit.
  2. Declare your standards – After all, why are you doing the lesson? What standards in the curriculum are you trying to reinforce?  Feel free to name more than one… but do keep it simple. Perhaps you wish to cover a power standard or a core standard. Remember that you may wish to complement your curricular area with a standard in another area. This is a great way to provide relevance to students and possibly even collaborate with another teacher. You may even wish to use technology and collaborate with another teacher outside of your school, district, state, or country. Most importantly, start with the standards! Remember, integrating technology means just that… a powerful way to engage and facilitate student competence with curricular content.
  3. Incorporate at least two 21st century skills – You may wonder why I state two. First, I don’t think it will be difficult… and 21st century skillsare so important to our student’s futures.  You may actually find your project will incorporate a large number of these important skills.  Second, in using two 21st century skills, you will be sure that one is measurable on a rubric. Research indicates that the three easiest 21st century skills to measure include critical thinking/problem solving, communication, and collaboration. Critical thinking and problem solving can be measured using tests, quizzes, presentations, reports, discussion, and observation. Communication and collaboration can be measured by observation, journals, seminars, and self/peer assessment.  Third, one of those skills should be one that may be harder, due to difficulty, to determine whether or not it is evident in the student work.  In fact, the  rubric may be recorded simply as  preset/not present, or a statement of “developing”…” evident”… “excels”. These 21st century skills include creative thinking, innovation, empathy, inquiry, intrinsic motivation, and meta-cognition. I think it is fair to assume that technology is already a part of the lesson.
  4. Develop a fun and engaging title – This title should provide a hook for students bringing out items of interest. It should provide relevance while being molded to appeal to the 21st century learner. Have fun, and include it on worksheets, wikis, parent newsletters, class web site, and everyday references to the lesson.
  5. Outline the technology you are going to incorporate – Make sure you keep it simple at first!  You do not want the technology to steal the importance of the content standards and 21st century skills being emphasized. Technology can include Web 2.0 applicationsMega WebsitesSoftware, various devices… phones…cameras…GPS…. Flip Video (remember… not all technology is a computer). The preceding sentence has links to some of these topics with resources found in my 21centuryedtech Wiki. Please take a look. Remember that any technology used may require some instruction. This instruction can be lecture, on-line tutorials, peer assistance, and/or handouts. Wow, an opportunity for more 21st century skills! Try to incorporate more than one technology and remember that the technology could be used for differentiation.
  6. Include an advance organizer in your lesson –  An advance organizer can be anything that assists students in applying their past knowledge and connecting it to the new knowledge that you are trying to teach. It may be a step by step instruction sheet, a graphic display to understand, a picture, a short filmstrip, a tutorial, or a simple discussion.  An advance organizer provides structure and meaning to students. In fact, you may have the lesson be a advance organizer for an entire unit.
  7. Incorporate formative assessment in the lesson –  It is the formative assessment in a video game that is powerful in engaging students. In a game, playesr understand where they stand and where they need to improve. In the classroom, formative assessment can be regarded as check points before the final lesson is completed. Formative assessments can be check off sheets, a conference, teacher observation, and/or discussion. Don’t forget that formative assessment can also include peers as students collaborate and critique each other through formal or informal methods. Last, formative assessment should include self-evaluation that can be one of a number of methods including self -checks, reflections, and journals. Most of all, remember that the role of formative assessment is to give quality to the final outcome, support the standards, and support real learning.
  8. The final product or outcome – The final outcome must be able to be assessed using a rubric, support the content standards, and facilitate 21stcentury skills. It could be large, but may also be small. Technology must be integrated in a useful manner while complementing the curriculum. Also, the final project must be understandable to students. If possible, it should have the ability to be shared beyond the audience of the students’ teacher.
  9. Make a timeline for lesson– Perhaps the lesson is one period or spans multiple periods. Create a timeline that includes major points including introduction, pre-organizers, lesson, work activities, formative assessment, tutorials to scaffold learning, and submission of the final work. The teacher should have an idea and it may even be appropriate to include student input. This time line can be made in increments of minutes, hours, or periods. It is also important that students be aware of the timeline and be held accountable. Once again technology can be used to support the timeline.
  10. Assessment rubric – The assessment rubric should include a measure of content and 21st century skills.  Decide on a percentage for each. Many teachers often use a 70% content and 30% 21st century skills. Remember when grading 21st century skills that the easiest to assess is critical thinking/problem solving, communication, and collaboration. It may reflect individual and group work if appropriate. When working in a group it is effective to have individual component grades in the rubric. The rubric can also contain points of formative assessment and metacognitive activities.  Last, you may wish to include technology integration in the rubric including such tools as RubiStar Rubric Maker.

So there you have it! I hope you have enjoyed these ten steps that will transform those awesome lessons that you have used for years, and bring them into the 21st century. Please feel free to download my Transforming-a-lesson-with-technology document to help you convert your project. Please continue to join me … future posts will also contain resources on Digital Curriculum,  evaluating web resources, Project Based Learning, STEM, Web 2.0, and so much more on 21st Century Learning. Please give this article a retweet if you scroll to the bottom! It’s a great way to spread the word and I appreciate your support. Remember to follow me on Twitter at mjgormans and subscribe to my blog at 21centuryedtech. Thanks, and until next time…  take a moment to look through your files and begin transforming that jukebox to iPod! I am sure you will make a great selection. Have a wonderful and transformative week! – Mike

3 Responses to “BABY STEPS – Ten Steps to Transforming Past Lessons for 21st Century Learners”

  1. Karen Landsman January 30, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    This is a comprehensive and articulate description of the process for transforming those great past lessons into engaging and diverse 21st century lessons. I like the idea of taking baby steps…you still get there but in a more deliberate and manageable manner.
    This is what has started happening when teachers come to Brainstorm and Brownies. I’m always amazed at how their ideas take off once we start talking about their favorite lessons. Then we talk about what technology would work best, how to differentiate, how we might integrate the arts or what would best engage the students. That opportunity to collaborate is so productive. I’ve learned so much from those who come to B+ B – and I think this post will help us all move forward with a bit more confidence.

  2. Ralene St. Pierre January 30, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Thanks for sharing. I feel like I can accomplish most anything if I can break the process into pieces. This article helps those of us who also need to know what those pieces are.

    • Mary Lou Donahoe February 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

      This is an excellent article. It outlines step by step how to develop a 21st Century Skills lesson plan. He is giving us a great gift with the download of “transforming a lesson with technology” and other links. All we have to do is follow that model step by step. Initially is more work, but it is important to try to implement one skill at a time and personalize instruction to reach all students. I like how he reminds us to start planning any lesson with the end in mind. Think of the Standards and to cover more than one standard. We do that in many ways, when we add math, science or social studies to a language arts unit. I recently watched a video of a teacher who added a math component to the 2nd grade Imagine It language arts story of the Iditarod race. He had his students calculate the distance the teams ran in a given day and make predictions as to how much terrain the would cover the following day. This qualifies as 21st Century Skill as he is having the students collaborate, measure the distance and use critical thinking skills to make a prediction. When the teacher was interviewed he said he wanted to make the lesson meaningful by connecting it to a real life event. This is a very easy example as to do what the author is saying about transforming a past practice into cutting edge instruction. Baby steps!

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