Classroom Interactions and 21st Century Learning

One of the groups of students I teach are 11th and 12th grade-age students, mostly boys, and a few of them have so little credit accumulated that they won’t actually meet graduation requirements for at least 2 more years.  They like to interact with each other in negative ways instead of participating in class discussions.  For example, one such interaction involved one of the boys asking me if he could have a tack so he could poke airholes in a suitcase; it was later discovered that he had a live squirrel in the suitcase.  It didn’t take long for the class to completely deteriorate.  Further, in this group of students only 2 usually attend school with any frequency; the rest come and go on various days.  Needless to say, reading short stories and novels has been a disaster.  I’ve decided to change my approach with this group.

21st Century teaching and learning is something I’ve been working on establishing more of in my classroom.  The students I work with are digital natives and they gravitate toward computers and other technology.  It makes perfect sense to combine education and technology.  I want to start them off working on collaborative online journals where they can write their ideas to questions and then respond to each other using a classroom social media site called Edmodo.  The site is free, but in order to have access to the students in my group a person needs the group code, so online conversations end up being private.  Further, it allows me to monitor students because, as the class administrator I can see screen names and real names so I can keep tabs on any cyber-bullying and nip it right away, and I can help them learn proper online etiquette.

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