Friday, May 9, 2014

Arranging the Elements

Recently I had a great chat with a colleague about the periodic table. We began discussing the organization of the table, and the order of the elements. As I previously mentioned, I have no knowledge of chemistry, and I just added the elements in an order that they were submitted. However, what I was able to learn about the real periodic table from this discussion, has definitely changed my approach to the elements.

Here was his suggestion:

"In a periodic table, these are important considerations:
  • elements in a column have similar properties (in chemistry it's due to number of electrons);
  • elements nearer to the top should be the most simple to do and should be done by all (in chemistry usually it is the most abundant element - we come from stars)"
These were great points raised. The order I realize, does kind of matter. Loi also provided a great visual that suggested arranging the elements in a way that works toward organizing the elements based on similar properties, simplicity, and action by all. The elements at the top, should be the ones that are most 'actionable'.

So this discussion got me thinking:
  1. What elements should be done by all?
  2. What elements have similar properties?
These are important questions that we must ask ourselves in 21st century education. My thought is organizing the elements according to 3 groups:
A. Habits of Mind - what students & teachers should work toward always demonstrating?
B. 21st Century Skills - what skills need to be developed in students & educators?
C. Environment - what places of learning should look like, be like, include, etc.?
The real periodic table has similar organization as was pointed out to me - "There are also blocks, that are similar - ie. metals are first 2 cloumns, the last 2 columns would be non-metals."

However, I also think there are many ways to organize the elements in terms of groups, importance, etc. Just like identifying the actual elements, there is no simple, single answer; and I think that many people, may have many different ideas. So I put this back out to the 'Twitterverse',

"How Should We Organize 21st Century Education Elements?"

Monday, May 5, 2014

Periodic Table: The Search for Elements Continues

The creation of the 'Periodic Table of 21st Century Education' was an idea born from the collaboration & input of many. I wanted to continue with this philosophy, and am especially pleased it has. I had originally thought of creating something like this on my own; however, quickly realized that there are far too many educators out there, who have way more knowledge & insight than I could possibly add! I think when having a conversation like this, it's even more powerful when there are many involved in it.

So over the last few days, many educators have shared, favourited, offered insight, added their elements to the table; and it has quickly doubled to 12 elements. The ideas that many have offered have sparked conversation, and has my mind racing, thinking about what other elements should be added. And although there are only 12 right now, the list could be much longer!

Many have offered multiple elements, each of which could & should be on the Table. However, in the spirit of collaboration, I have chosen to limit contributions to one element per person. My hope is that it will allow more educators to engage in the conversation, and offer their own opinions, without feeling as if their voice has already been taken from them.

I have also decided to capture as much of the conversation as possible; the back and forth dialogue which has happened in the 'Twitter'sphere' has been added to the following Storify:

So here's the updated Periodic Table, 12 elements in all, with many more (hopefully) still to come!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Periodic Table of 21st Century Education

I have been contemplating a lot recently about what education should look like. Feel like. Be like. Sound like. There has been a wave of tremendous change that has swept the educational landscape; and has brought with it new ideas, foci, and pedagogies. I try to stay abreast of this conversation, and love the engagement shown by many; all of whom wish to improve education, and thus student learning.

One of those people was Ingvi Omarsson, whose blog post highlighted the 14 things he believes are obsolete in 21st century schools. I found it inspiring and very thought provoking; and really made me consider my own teaching practice. I enjoyed the fact that he did not just focus on technology, but really took a wholistic approach to improving education.

Others came from my school board, where there is a growing online PLN, full of fantastic, engaged educators.  Through this network, I recently engaged in a group blog activity with some of these excellent educators, where we each contributed a '6 word definition' for the '6 C's in 21st Century Education' (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, citizenship, & character). The six word definitions allowed us to really narrow down our thoughts, into a concise, neat opinion about each of the six C's. It also allowed us to look through the lens of others in order to better understand each element.

So that got me thinking. What other elements are necessary to prepare students for the 21st century? What are the attributes, skills, environments, etc., that we need to provide for them in order for them to become 21st century learners?

Answering these questions are not simple, and there is no one response that will fully answer each question. Just like the group blog, many different educators have many different opinions; and its necessary to look through the variety of lenses to truly understand the elements of 21st century education.

Therefore, let's put our heads together, and compile the elements necessary in 21st century education. The first six are already complete, taken already from the opinions of educators; but I know there is so much more to this!

Here's how we can do it. Send me an element via twitter that you believe is necessary in 21st century education (i.e. technology), as well as a 6 word definition. I will add then add it to the list, as well as you as the contributor. (like below)

What list you ask? Well, I am no scientist, and don't begin to know how the 'Scientific Periodic Table' is compiled; but I thought it was a nice way to illustrate the elements. Thus, I have begun the
'Periodic Table of 21st Century Education'

So send along your ideas. I'd love to hear what you're thinking!