Ask yourself how often do you hear the phrase “21st century skills” when it comes to some new part of the curriculum or the use of some specific technology or app. It is nearly 20 years into the 21st century – if the education world is still trying to identify which skills are needed, there might be bigger issues in education than I thought. Of course, technology needs to be fully integrated into the curriculum in an authentic way. Technology is all around us: driverless cars are right around the corner, Amazon is delivering by drone, you can pay a bill at a restaurant with your phone. 

When identifying and teaching essential skills, I’ve used TPACK and SAMR to make the best choices. To me, TPACK (Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge) and SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition) work together quite well. TPACK identifies the types of knowledge that I need to have and helps me realize that I already have much of that knowledge. SAMR comes in handy when I am looking to use technology to engage students in higher order thinking. 

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Using the TPACK framework as my guide, I am confident in my content knowledge. I can add, subtract, multiply and divide; plus I can tell you what an adverb is, among other things (I teach grade 3). I am approaching 15 years of teaching and regularly take professional development courses. While it is an ever-changing profession and each year and class is different, I have built up a large enough toolbox and depth of experience to fall back on.

My journey to improve my technological knowledge through COETAIL and other certifications have inspired me to see what else is out there that I could be doing. As technology is ever-changing and improving, it is hard to keep up sometimes. With all of the new apps and programs, it can be a full-time job to find out what is actually useful. I don’t have to search and search for something new to try. Now I simply look around my PLN to see what people are using effectively with their students. By sharing and learning from one another, I am able to more authentically and intentionally integrate technology into my lessons.

I have come a long way from being a single subject ICT Specialist teaching computer skills on a weekly schedule. My lessons, along with the “Teaching Lab,” were so disjointed from what was actually happening in the classrooms (even though I met regularly with teachers to try and integrate as much as possible). The approach did not allow students to utilize technology authentically. And I was honestly really bored isolated in my computer cave apart from the rest of my colleagues. I find it hard to believe that some schools still operate this way since it is like so 20th century.

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