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We Won that Battle!


In 2002 I had the honor of watching Seymour Papert give a keynote address where he told Computer Using Educators that they should change the name of their organization! “We won that battle” he said. “Most educators are using computers. it is now time for all students to have access to computers as well.” Then he went on to describe the ongoing plans for the Maine Laptop learning initiative, where every seventh and eighth grade student in the state of Maine would soon receive a laptop computer. I was inspired by that speech. The program has since grown and research from the initiative has shown that that student achievement grew by 1/3% or more, especially in writing and mathematics.
Computer Using Educators has not changed its name. The next year, I led the Integrative Digital Curriculum initiative at The Gillispie School in which every teacher and every third through sixth grade student received a laptop computer.

Constructivism

Something else I learned from Seymour Papert was the constructivist method of teaching using project-based-learning. Hands-on learning is one of the best ways to retain knowledge learned, by personally experiencing the sensations of touch, sound, sight, smell and even taste. Service learning projects are a great way to use project based learning. Challenged based learning is another very powerful learning tool. Challenge based learning is using project based learning to take on a local challenge that is relevant to the community, and work together to solve the problem. It is even more exciting when a classroom can collaborate with another class somewhere around the world with a similar problem that needs solving.

The Framework for 21st Century Learning Skills and Tools.
Most good teachers are already intuitively teaching within this framework. Yet, with the world changing so rapidly, it helps to occasionally take a good look at how we are teaching our students. By using by using 21st century skills, tools and principles as a guide, we can better prepare our students to be productive citizens within this global community. One very important part of the framework, which I relate to, is the four C’s. When possible, I look towards the four C’s in designing lessons.
They are:
Critical thinking (problem solving skills)
Communication
Collaboration
and creativity (Innovation)
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My Ideal Classroom

My ideal classroom would be very large and completely modular. All the furniture could easily be moved around. Chairs and tables would fit together in multiple ways for different sized groups and needs. There would be plenty of storage space and there would be electrical outlets in the walls, the floor and hanging from the ceiling with pulleys to move them around. There would be partitions that could easily be moved to set up learning spaces in whatever configuration is needed for the current project.

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Of course, all the furniture could be stored within the walls when not in use. The space would have two Smart Boards, one at each end of the room. One wall would be painted green for green screen video effects. Audio and video systems would be built in as well. The room would also contain class sets of cameras, video cameras, tripods, lighting equipment and other multimedia production equipment.