Our study group’s Each study group will develop a lesson plan that integrates ICT and 21st Century Skills for a class in a grade 1. Here is what we have done:
Reflections for the 21st century skills project
Each year, decade and century brings many innovations into our world. 21st century is not the exception – our planet is full of new gadgets and machines, which can make our life more fascinating, interesting and easy. By using these technologies, people, whose task is to educate, can not only make their lessons more exciting but also teach students how they can implement ICT to achieve better results in anything they want.
Our study group’s task was to design a study plan that includes elements of 21st century learning skills. As a group, we decided to choose the subject course of English, as it was a subject we were all familiar with, and that we all have had experience with. Marija, Michaela and Nicolai have all been taught English as a foreign language, and Sofiya has taught English as a foreign language, therefore we were all, to an extent, familiar with the curriculum, despite coming from countries with very different methods of teaching. Additionally, it was a subject we were all comfortable with. We decided to formulate the framework to be put in place over a 2-month period, between the months of August to September. We chose to create the plan for first graders (children aged between 6 and 7), because, in our opinion, it would be important to introduce them to the basics of the language, and create a strong foundation for the rest of their English learning journey.
For us, the role of a teacher in 21st century is to be an instructor: serving as a resource to the students, as a dispenser of information; they are to be a facilitator: there to assist the students in learning for themselves; a guide: giving them freedom and the ability to think creatively and develop independently.
In regards to the involvement of the students, we wanted them to be involved in the lessons as much as possible, both physically, mentally and emotionally to make them be engaged and fully interested in every aspect of the lesson. In our point of view, pupils should be able to work in groups, so as to further their collaborative skills, and so that they can scaffold each other; but also some time should be left to work alone, so that the student can develop individually. We also decided that homework should be kept to a minimum to give students an ability to have time to themselves at home.
This brings us to our next point: How should the essential criteria for working with ICT within a school context be? We as a group believe that to achieve the better results teachers have to be able to fully comprehend what they are using to teach the students, and are able to keep track of what the students are doing on their personal screens, limiting distractions, and ensuring they are working to the best of their abilities.
It is very important to make a correct decision on what materials should we use to incorporate ICT within a classroom in the most effective manner. Some of these materials could include the internet, social networking services (such as Facebook and Twitter), internet-capable laptops, Microsoft Office, interactive games, such as Kahoot. We could also use machines and devices from the CFU Makerspace (for example, the machine where students can program their own games or learning discs where they can improve their language and collaboration skills). This would in most cases boil down to using Chromebooks or another cloud-based laptop and perhaps Smartphones for the student’s individual work, and smartboards for when the students have a collaborative task. As these tools are versatile as they are.
This goes a long way on building the 21st century skills. Many of our lesson plans are presentation based in different ways, which builds upon the students’ ability to self-assess. Also we have a lot of collective tasks to strengthen competent communication, knowledge construction and collaboration. And as a base the students are learning through ICT on their Chromebooks. Using these materials, alongside other, perhaps more ‘analogue’ materials, such as libraries and books, we can make students better at gathering information by showing them how to cross-compare, how to evaluate, to filter news and information, and think critically and analytically, in order to gather the most reliable information, and so that they can form their own opinions with a strong foundation of knowledge for them to build up on and develop innovation skill as well.
As stated earlier we want to keep homework to a minimum but sometimes a presentation might need work at home, and the students have their Chromebooks at home anyway. This will help students prosper creatively as they get to create something themselves and teaches students to develop solutions to appearing problems as they won’t have a teacher nearby at home to help them with what material is relevant etc.
In our opinion, it is especially important to incorporate ICT in learning process nowadays, and, luckily, there are opportunities to do that. For example, CFU (or the Makerspace) is an amazing chance for teachers to make children interested in the studying process by incorporating ICT in the lessons. Instead of trying to explain ‘boring’ material to children, a teacher can borrow some of the games/gadgets for a lesson, or invite children to come to CFU and spend a lesson there. There are thousands of different technologies that are developed for various themes and subjects: pupils are able to develop themselves in science, IT and coding, language, grammar, reading, writing and even listening. And, what is even more important, while working with these technologies (which requires both individual and group work) children learn how to think independently, how to use modern technologies correctly and how to work in a team. And, of course, if children are involved in a learning process, the level of their knowledge increases rapidly.
Our study group believes that it is necessary to integrate modern technologies into study process and to develop 21st century skills in our society. Children are our future, and to have further inventions, to make our planet better and to progress we have to go hand in hand with the time. If we want to make discoveries, if we want to improve the level of our life, we have to teach the future generations with new modern methods, teach them to think critically, to collaborate with others, and, of course, to be self-assistant and creative.