Teachers often ask me what all this “21st Century” hype is all about, and while I agree that there is a sort of hype surrounding it all, and while I tend not to use that phraseology too often because of that, I definitely appreciate the need for some sort of distinction. I think it’s a good thing that people’s curiosities are peaked. I also think it’s a good thing that they recognize that something is different. A whole lot different. And needing a whole new language.

Many of the teachers I work with are still wondering what web 2.0 is and what it could mean for teaching and learning. Those who are new to this conversation may get excited about tools and they may latch on to the “stuff” that can be “found” online. They sometimes assume that the web will allow them to do what they are already doing in sleeker, more enthralling ways. They love their “clickers” and their interactive white boards, and I’m not suggesting that we scrap them altogether. I do question why these technologies tend to be the first that people are introduced to and why they take up so much space in classrooms, though.

I had a funny thought yesterday as I was planning a writing session that I’ll be leading in the coming weeks: when we coach kids to write better, we often ask them to focus on the verbs and the adjectives that they use. Powerful verbs and adjectives make a significant contribution to powerful writing. Nouns need less of our attention. They are a given. We craft our verbs and adjectives, but our nouns? Notsomuch.

Maybe good teaching and good use of the web is about all about crafting the way we live our verbs and our adjectives. It’s about paying attention to what kids are doing: where they can engage and how they can connect. Maybe our job is simply to study them in action, determine which of those skills need further support, provide feedback, and shift our position and the support we provide in response.

Teachers who wonder how the web can revolutionize teaching and learning might appreciate this Common Craft-style video by Leigh Murrell and Heidi Beezley:

Want to learn more about Google, Moodle, Wikis, and Blogs? Check out some of my favorite Common Craft videos:

Google Docs in Plain English
Social Networking in Plain English
Wikis in Plain English
Blogs in Plain English
Twitter in Plain English


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