Becky Keene and Kathi Kersznowski
Three teachers working on a lesson in front of a laptop

The Innovator Solutions section includes contributions from corporate sponsors and advertisers representing education organizations, businesses, policy-making bodies and other influencers dedicated to transforming education. This blog post was provided by Microsoft Education.

Every spring, Microsoft Education hosts an event for Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts and Microsoft Showcase School Leaders to connect with each other, learn together and build global connections. Educators and leaders get a hands-on look at new edtech tools, participate in a learning challenge as part of an international team, present innovations from their own classrooms and take part in community-building celebrations.

This year Microsoft Education Exchange (E2) is a three-day virtual event streaming in a variety of time zones and is open to every educator and leader around the globe. Participants will learn from some of the best minds in education and connect with others who share similar passions and goals for their students.

We are big fans of the event, but more than that, we are even bigger fans of the community we connect with and the collaboration and inspiration that happens when educators get together to share ideas, challenges and solutions.

This event, as well as others that bring together the community of educators and school leaders, supports the 7 C’s. Let’s explore how this framework helps build skills and expertise, while addressing the ISTE Standards.

The 7 C’s defined

1. Community

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a part of a professional learning network (PLN) that expands not only beyond your classroom, but also beyond your country or continent? By participating in face-to-face and virtual events, actively engaging with educators on social media and creating professional learning communities within your school or district, you can build connections and partnerships.

Community is a key competency of the ISTE Standards for Educators. Standard 1b encourages educators to “pursue professional interests by creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks.”

2. Collaboration

Projects, challenges and ideas tend to be better when we bounce ideas off a colleague, talk through strategies with a partner, learn to compromise with a peer or make decisions as a team. By seeking ways to collaborate with other educators, whether they are part of your school or institution or across the globe, you learn and support each other.

Collaboration is at the heart of standard 4a of the ISTE Educator Standards. Educators are encouraged to “dedicate planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology.”

3. Communication

Once you’re part of a community, the fun part (and sometimes the challenging part) is being an effective and engaging communicator. Communication is especially important in the world of education because not only do we need to communicate well to teach well, it’s part of our responsibility to teach students to be good communicators. You can build your communication skills by sharing during PD sessions, presenting at conferences and even by posting resources and ideas on social media platforms.

The ISTE Educator Standards address this skill in standard 2c: “Educators model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.”

4. Creativity

Creativity means something different to everyone. Whether you’re spellbound by STEM, fascinated by Flipgrid, mesmerized by Minecraft, value video creation tools or galvanized by the Global Goals, there are plenty of resources to boost creativity in your classroom or school. Ask your PLN for their favorites, explore tutorials on YouTube and don’t be shy about sharing your favorites with others.

This skill is outlined in ISTE Educator Standard 6d: “Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.

5. Critical thinking

One sure-fire way to develop student critical thinking skills is through project-based learning. This year’s learning challenge at E2 is the Tech For Good challenge, which invites educators from around the globe to work together in small teams to create a technology solution that can change the world.

This is a wonderful way to model passion-based learning experiences for students. There are plenty of organizations and sites that offer similar projects, like #TeachSDGs.org, so you can introduce students to authentic project-based learning opportunities.

This competency is outlined in ISTE Educators Standard 3a: “Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.”

6. Computational thinking

Have you ever wondered about using a new tool or wished you had a solution for a problem in your classroom? How many times have you asked around for advice or gone looking for a technology platform that worked best for your students? Believe it or not, you’re using computational thinking strategies!

Educators look for patterns in student work, remove extraneous information to focus on core challenges, break down problems into smaller pieces and find solutions, often by app-smashing a few pieces together. Computational thinking is a skill that spans all content areas and is a vital competency to teach students.

In fact, Computational Thinker is one of the ISTE Standards for Students. This standard advises students to “develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.”  

7. Change-making

Education has begun to focus on giving students opportunities to learn about global issues so they'll be driven to be change-makers. In fact, one of the five competencies of #DigCitCommit involves being an engaged citizen, defined as “using technology and digital channels for civic engagement, to solve problems and be a force for good in both physical and virtual communities.” E2 has a particular focus on changemakers this year.  There will be students presenting their winning projects from the Australia AI for Good Challenge.

 

Becky Keene is director at insight2execution, an education consultancy company based in the Seattle, Washington, area. She has worked in public education as a classroom teacher, program specialist, instructional coach, advocate, speaker and partner for 20 years. She is coauthor of the book Sail the 7 Cs with Microsoft Education. Connect with her on Twitter @beckykeene or visit her website at beckykeene.com.

Kathi Kersznowski is a technology integration specialist in a public school system in southern New Jersey.  She also works as professional learning specialist for insight2execution, and she owns a education consulting business called Integration Innovation.  With over 25 years teaching experience, Kathi now enjoys teaching teachers in her district and is also a presenter, blogger, keynote speaker and professional development provider.  She is coauthor of the book Sail the 7 Cs with Microsoft Education. Visit Kathi’s website to contact her and learn what she’s passionate about at Kerszi.com.