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Creating 21st Century Classrooms

Teching it Up K-12 -- Success Stories, Part 3

In Part 2 of "Teching it Up K-12 -- Success Stories," originally presented at the Arizona CIO/CTO Forum 2011, we focused on developing a learning culture through peer coaching.  In Part 3, we focus on 21st century learning, blogging, and PLN.

Pedagogical Shift

There is a pedagogy shift happening in our district. Teachers are focusing on their learners. They are connecting beyond the four walls of their classrooms for an authentic purpose, relevant to their learners. Students are creating products as part of their learning, rather than it being just another hoop to jump through.

As our teachers become 21st century learners, they push themselves to the next step. For us, the Edublogs Teacher Challenges and Student Challenges have been catalysts in this process.

Edublogs Teacher Challenge

Image attributed to Edublogs
The Edublogs Teacher Challenges build teachers' skills in web 2.0 tools with the support of a global community working through the challenges together. By piggy-backing on their free professional development, we build a learning network side-by-side with one another, and around the globe.

Edublogs Student Challenge

The Edublogs Student Challenge is a global blogging challenge for individual student blogs and class blogs. There are 10 weeks of challenges that occur twice a year: September and again in March. Through these challenges, students (and teachers) learn about digital citizenship in an authentic setting, while learning how to improve their blogging and commenting skills.

Blogs in AJUSD

Students are motivated and engaged because blogging allows them to connect with others in an authentic context. It allows them to continue their conversations about what they are learning and seeing in the world, while practicing appropriate online behavior and digital citizenship.

AJUSD Blogs on PhotoPeach

Building PLN

Blogging is one way to build PLN. It allows us to share resources; build momentum; it connects us with others; thereby, allowing us to support one another.

Final remarks

I'm thankful our technology department keeps educational sites filtered and accessible, a decision based on pedagogical ideologies.
  • How does 21st century learning affect your students?
  • How are you becoming a 21st century learner? 
  • How does your technology department's decisions reflect their pedagogical ideologies?
Special thanks to Sue Wyatt, for her dedication in organizing the Student Blogging Challenges. Thanks to Sue Waters and Ronnie Burt  for their commitment to teachers through the Teacher Challenges. Thanks to Jon Castelhano, for making excellent pedagogical choices that empower learners. Thanks to all of the AJUSD teachers for their passion in education.


  1. Tracy,
    It's awesome how so many of your staff and students have participated in the blogging challenges. I was alone at my school. I like how you and your staff, using free professional development, were able "to build a learning network side-by-side with one another, and around the globe." I think it would be doubly rewarding to have my staff doing it too.

    I hope more school districts take advantage of the opportunity. I like the video showing the home pages of the AJ blogs. Nice touch!


  2. Thanks so much Denise!

    We have such a fabulous group of educators who are willing to grow and try new things. Quite honestly, I think most of us in the district just weren't aware of the opportunities out there, including myself.

    When I was in the classroom, I had the fear of their safety, and didn't know where to look for support and professional development to guide my practices and develop digital citizenship. I also wasn't prepared to stick with it through the growing period of establishing an online network.

    Edublogs Student Challenges and Teacher Challenges walked me though it step by step, and the outcome is invaluable. Allowing teachers to sign up for this, and to walk them through it as the Teacher Challenge was going through it was such a win. I encourage others to give it a try.

    Thanks for the compliment on the AJUSD blogs video. It was so easy to create in PhotoPeach.

    Kind regards,

  3. I guess I hadn't given it a thought before to take advantage of the PD offered for our whole school district. (duh) I'm becoming inspired for next January! As always, thanks, Tracy!


  4. Oh Denise, You are quite welcome. This is what I love about blogging, it's another opportunity to connect, reflect, and share ideas with others. Thanks for the comment and encouragement.

    Kind regards,

  5. Hi Tracy!

    I can't believe the difference blogging has made in my classroom this year. I really only started doing it because I hoped it would help my students become better writers, and it has, but it has impacted my class in many other ways. Students are engaged and excited about the connections they have made. We've done Skype calls with five other states and South Korea already, and all those connections were initiated through the blog! Another huge benefit I see is that we now have a built-in record of our year together, so we can reflect on how much we have learned as the year progresses. Already we are going back to previous posts to review and add to our prior knowledge. That in itself is enough to make the blog worth the effort! Thank you for your support of all of us blogging newbies.

  6. Hi Shauna,

    Isn't it amazing how the authenticity of sharing with others through a blog can bring learning to life? I knew it would make a little difference, but I had no idea the strong impact it would have! Having that tangible portfolio of their learning journey is incredible. Thanks so much for taking the time to share what blogging has done for your students, and it's only been 3 months!

    Kind regards,

  7. Tracy,

    I am really excited to get started with the blogging. After having the site up for one week, we have gone on and looked at the two comments we have received. My next step is to create a Q-R code so the first graders can scan it with the ipads in the classroom so they can go on and comment back, answering the questions that were asked of them. I am really excited to get this going!

  8. Dear Bonnie,

    I love your enthusiasm and can't wait to start helping out in your classroom! I got so many ideas from Tony Vincent and I'm sure you got double because that's how your mind works... such as how you'll use the QR codes from the iPad to your blog. I can't wait to learn from you so I can help others do some of the same innovative things!

    PS Do you have a Twitter account?

    Kind regards,


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