Digital Portfolios

One of the BEST ways to implement 21st Century Learning into your classroom is to ask students to create a digital portfolio showcasing their work. Not only do students reflect on their learning from the year, but they also demonstrate their mastery of each topic through the use of technology. The great news is that digital portfolio software is more widely available and offered for free. (Wagner, 2010).

Interested in getting started? Click here to view student and teacher portfolio software.

Here is a video that further explains digital portfolios:

High-quality student digital portfolios have been used in successful schools such as High Tech High. Here are some examples from some 6th grade students at Hawthorne Elementary in San Luis Obispo:

Teachers have also used digital portfolios to reflect and collaborate. Here is an example of teachers portfolios from High Tech High.

Here is a PDF to help you get started! Digital Portfolios

Wagner, T. (2010). The global achievement gap. New York, NY: Basic Books.


Learning Walks

“Isolation is the enemy of improvement” (Wagner, 2010, p 157).

In order to improve 21st Century Learning, schools must implement Learning Walks. Learning walks allow teachers and administrators to get a snap shot of learning that is taking place in their schools. We LOVE the idea of learning walks because it opens the door for teachers to collaborate and reflect on their teaching.

In Tony Wagner’s book The Global Achievement Gap, he describes how learning walks changed the way teachers viewed “rigor” in the classrooms. In 2003, Wagner was asked to help “reinvent” several high schools in South Kona, Hawaii.  After implementing “learning walks” with the administration and staff, teaching practices were transformed. Faye Ogilvie, an elementary school principal, summarized her expereince:

“My thinking has definitely changed since we’ve started working together and it continues to evolve…When we started these conversations, I realized that just because teachers were using research-based strategies and providing a quality learning environment, they weren’t necessarily engaging students in using their minds well. By engaging teachers in conversations about rigor, we prompted them to reflect on their own practices and to make gradual changes to instruction that focused on student thinking rather than right answer responses” (Wagner, 2010, p. 162).

Here is a video of teachers reflecting on their learning walks:

Wagner, T. (2010). The global achievement gap. New York, NY: Basic Books.

5 Habits of Mind: Debroah Meier

Deborah Meier (an educational reformer, writer, and activist) believes that schools should teach students a specific set of skills in order to be highly effective. The skills, also known as ‘habits of mind,’ include:

  • Significance (why it is important)
  • Perspective (what is the point of view)
  • Evidence (how do you know)
  • Connection (how does it apply)
  • Supposition (what if it were different)

Here is a video of Deborah Meier further explaining the five habits of mind:

As a teacher, I believe that these questions should be used when creating lesson plans. As a teacher it is really important that our lessons include each of these elements. Having students critically think about what they are learning will provide them with the essential skills to be successful in their future.

Here is a great example of how a ninth and tenth grade teacher uses the five habits of mind in her lesson. The teacher does a great job of responding to the students questions.

Wagner, T. (2010). The global achievement gap. New York, NY: Basic Books.