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How Do We Prepare Our Students For Jobs That Do Not Even Exist Yet?

How DreamBox has helped me become a 21st-century teacher

“With the accelerating pace of social and technological change, the World Economic Forum estimates that 65% of children today will end up in careers that don’t even exist yet.”
– Craig and Marc Kielburger

For 25 years I have taught at an elementary school in a diverse high poverty vibrant community. Five years ago a retiring colleague told me that we needed to teach to the children of today and not as we were taught. This comment started me on a journey of researching and developing a program to prepare my students for what they will need to thrive in a virtually unknown workforce. The basic skills will still be important to master, however, the Kielburger article (from the quote above) shares that the World Economic Forum asked various executives from some of the world’s leading companies what the ten most important job skills would be in 2020. It is intriguing to learn that their number one response was – complex problem-solving. The Kielburger article puts it in perspective this way, “….consider this: just ten years ago, ‘social media manager’ or ‘mobile app developer’ would have seemed like imaginary job titles to most.”

Therefore, one can only imagine the kinds of jobs our children will face in 10 to 15 years with technology becoming ever intertwined in our everyday life and advancing at an accelerated pace. Taking this all into consideration teachers must provide students with the experiences that will build the skills needed. One way is by getting our students engaged with early coding experiences, such as the courses offered on the site, Hour of Code. My second graders have written hundreds of lines of code during Computer Science Week in December. What is exciting is that the students who might not necessarily excel in the traditional subjects absolutely shine in coding. I have seen this every year during our four years involved with Hour of Code.

Our students also need to have made available to them innovative and adaptive online learning programs that will address their individual skill deficits and provide teachers with timely reports and suggestions. One of the programs that I have seen great growth and engagement with for my students is the online math program DreamBox. Although my students are learning in a game-based environment the content is rigorous and moves them forward. My students will need critical thinking and problem-solving skills when they graduate and DreamBox cultivates these areas so that they will have the math thinking skills necessary for future STEM positions.

Not only do I feel tasked to guide my students to become 21st-century learners and career ready, but also feel it is imperative that I fully become a 21st-century teacher. Our district has provided us with a powerful tool in DreamBox. As mentioned the game-based environment drives my students to want to achieve more than they might otherwise. At this point in the school year, I have graduated/moved up 6 of my students from the 2nd grade environment to the 3rd grade environment. The students who haven’t moved up yet have expressed great interest in moving forward. In the past a large pile of papers to grade and analyze provided me with information to drive instruction. Now with a program such as DreamBox, I have instant daily results/charts/suggestions that help me to provide timely feedback and further instruction and assignments to my students. After viewing student results I can easily make individual or group assignments to target my students’ deficits. For me, this is a game changer.

We need our students to be complex problem-solvers, communicators, and ready to tackle the new and unimaginable (but exciting!) career opportunities that will be there when they graduate. Programs such as DreamBox allows teachers to become 21st-century teachers who can provide individualized and adaptive instruction in a manner that will completely engage each student.

 It begins today!

Check out these tech activities in my classroom!

This post was written by Julie Ahern who currently teaches second grade at Andrew Cooke Magnet Elementary School in Waukegan, IL. Julie Ahern has taught for 25 years in a diverse high poverty vibrant community at a fine arts elementary magnet school. Julie feels it is vital that we teach our 21st-century students in a 21st-century manner and strives to provide these experiences for her students. 


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