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21st Century Resources and Tools for Professional Educators

A cornerstone of connected teaching is the instrumented classroom, which is described in the Assessment section of this plan. A highly instrumented classroom is a place where technology-based systems provide educators with real-time insight into how every student is thinking that, when combined with analytic tools, helps educators make better decisions about how to adapt instruction to students’ needs. Also included in the Assessment section are examples of the kinds of tools 21st century educators should have at their fingertips.

In addition, as learning environments become more complex, educators need support in managing the multiple dimensions of curricular instruction. Commercially available and open source learning management systems are already used widely in university settings, and their use is expanding in K-12 settings. Such tools allow educators to coordinate course materials, syllabi, assignments, discussions, and more in a central location for students.

For example, teachers at George J. Ryan Junior High School in Queens, New York, saw improved literacy outcomes in their first year of using an online writing workshop environment. The environment creates virtual classrooms in which educators and students can interact in new ways with course content and with one another. It features a room where students can post writing samples, hold discussions, and find animated content objects linked to quiz data, feedback, and grading. Face-to-face training provided to educators ensured that they could use the environment effectively.

Other online environments also allow broader participation in a student’s learning. School administrators can join virtual classrooms for a window on the progress of a given class. Parents or members of other partner institutions can log in for a virtual tour through a class project or contribute materials to the environment.

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