Eleven years ago I was introduced to a model of inquiry called The Picture Word Inductive Model. This is the work of Dr. Emily Calhoun. I was fortunate to receive training from Dr. Calhoun and I continue to work with schools as they implement the model to this day. During my first year as a reading consultant I witnessed kindergarten students engaged in this model. I remember being amazed at what the kindergartners were able to do. In one lesson I observed kindergartners using high quality nonfiction text as they revealed their thinking. They were sharing what the author did to help them gain meaning from the text. This was the result of the teacher using the Talk Aloud Strategy as well as the gradual release of responsibility. As a former upper elementary teacher, I remember being in awe of these little learners. They were using language I’m not sure I even encouraged my own students to use. They were able to tell me how the author’s use of various text features and even text structures helped them as readers.
Recently, I viewed an Animoto video (Our First Week in Grade 1) showcasing the first week of learning in @Grade1’s first grade classroom. Again, I stand in awe! Proof of 21st Century learning fills this video. In just one week of school these little learners have been engaged in authentic 21st skills. They are blogging and tweeting about their learning. They are working collaboratively as they solve problems. They are integrating a wide variety of technology into their daily classroom lives: computers, interactive whiteboard, iTouch, Palm Treos and Livescribe Pens.
In the book The Flat World and Education, Linda Darling-Hammond points out the need for skills that include the capacity to:
- Design, evaluate, and manage one’s own work so that it continually improves
- Frame, investigate, and solve problems using a wide range of tools and resources
- Collaborate strategically with others
- Communicate effectively in many forms
- Find, analyze, and use information for many purposes
- Develop new products and ideas
I look to these young learners through the lens that anything is possible. If examples of the skills Darling-Hammond points out are prevalent among the young learners mentioned above, what will the rest of the school days hold for them? If these little learners can begin to grasp the integration of technology, we all can. If these little learners can read critically, we all can. If these little learners can work collaboratively, we all can!
We do not have to wait for rooms full of technology to embark on this quest. Just like with any endeavor, the need to start small is important. For me, I look forward to the year ahead as an Instructional Coach. One of my goals to assist teachers and students integrate technology into their learning. Plans are underway for blogging with middle school students as well as incorporating a variety of Web 2.0 tools with middle school and elementary schools alike. We will start small, but we have a strong vision. There are so many that have embarked on this journey ahead of us. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn about something new from my Twitter PLN!
My goal is to become a 21st Century learner right along with students and fellow educators. I have to believe that anything is possible! I will continue to search for solutions to technology needs by first looking at what is available and then seek new avenues. I will to reach out to fellow educators for advice and share new ideas. The future does belong to our students, but we need to join them along the way. If we do anything is possible!
Calhoun, E. (1999). Teaching Beginning Reading and Writing with the Picture Word Inductive Model. Alexandria, VA: Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future. New York: Teachers College Press.