One of the most, if not THE MOST, important parts of being a teacher in the year 2017 is finding good access to classroom technologies. The educators who cling to the old transparencies will soon find that no one listens to them or copies their notes any longer — snapchat and other apps are here to grab attention far better than those tools ever could. How do we accomplish anything then?
My friends, I present to you: Curriculum21.
This is a website and portal run by Heidi Hayes Jacobs to collect and tag online classroom technologies for their use in your room. If you have an account you can even submit one yourself. A very wide range of tools can be found here, from tips and apps to help with specific subjects to tools that have broader and wider uses.
While the site itself has many useful sections, look around the drop-down menus for things you feel you might use and learn from, the main thing thing we’re going to be using here is the “Clearing House” tab. Go ahead and click on that. This is the section of the site where you will find a massive collection of websites and online tools that you can use in your classroom.
The most essential feature here is the tagging system. Got something you think would be very helpful for classroom management? Tag it as such. Think that neat video editor would be helpful in a drama or a science class? Tag it with both subjects. The useful part of this functionality is that once a site or tool has been tagged you can search for those tags on Curriculum21 and find what your colleagues from around the world have found useful. You can comment on items in the portal as well, leaving small lesson plan concepts or ideas for teachers to find or picking up the threads left by others and creating a brand new lesson idea.
Gone are the days where we squirreled away our lesson plans for the coming winters. Gone are the dragon hoards of resources on bookshelves and piles in the prep room. This tool is essential to collaboration not only in your own school or school board — friends websites like this one open up collaboration to the entire world of educators.
Remember that we are educating the future. Sticking to what worked in the past because that’s what we’ve always done won’t quite cut it any longer. We need to prepare students for the future. Anecdotally, how many students these days have grown up with computers, especially computers with haptic functionality? Well over half. Why shouldn’t we then adapt to the needs that these students have? Why shouldn’t we develop the competencies and comforts that they will be using in their daily lives? Why ignore the path forwards, towards a progressive education for all students?
These are hypotheticals friends. Of course we should be doing these things. The ability to develop core skills and competencies is becoming far more important than simple content knowledge. The skill to distinguish true from false and to know not only HOW to get the information that they need but also how to assess the validity of the source of said information is the most key and critical skill to develop in students for the future.
Take this fun activity for instance:
First things first. Look at the bottom of the image — this site will be found under any of those tags. The power of the tagging system at work.
Next, have a look at the concept that Mark Brownlow has on display for us:
All my english/history colleague have hopefully immediately understood why this can be a useful exercise for students. By crafting an ersatz email inbox students have to show, not tell, me that they understand who this person was or is. What email lists have they subscribed to, which pages on (insert social media platform here) are they getting notified by, who is sending them emails, what is their spam — turn students into online-marketing executives and have them puzzle out who these figures are!
Newspapers! Who says print is dead?Search globally for newspapers and read them in the original language or translate them with a few simple clicks to see how events are reported differently in other countries. Peruse the papers yourself to stay current on local events and developments from around the world.
Video killed the Radio Star, but the internet brought it back. Check out radio.garden for a radio version of the newspaper tool I just described.
All this and more can be yours just by looking around on www.curriculum21.com. These examples are only from the English/Language Arts tag — there are plenty of others that await you in this curated list. Tools to use in your class and tools to improve your own personal development. You don’t need to make an account to try it out, only to add your own mark on the list. So please, go, and discover.