21st Century Lesson Plan

Objective: You will create a lesson plan that applies concepts from MAET Y1, addresses students’ needs as 21st century learners, and integrates a digital technology.

(1) Lesson Plan – Video Conferencing with an Expert 

(2) Digital product to support the lesson plan

This is an example of a video conference call that would happen as part of the above lesson.

Video Produced By: Megan Brady, Ridley College

If you are interested in learning more about how you can use video conferencing to support student inquiry, look at the following presentation.

(3) Written description of your thinking in creating the lesson plan and connections to course concepts

When looking at how to incorporate technology meaningfully into the classroom, I am always trying to think of ways to do things that are not possible without its use. One way that I have found to do this is through the use of video conferencing to bring special guests into the classroom. Although it is possible to bring guest speakers into the classroom in person, funding and scheduling this can be challenging given the constraints that are present in schools today. Through the use of video conference calling, guest speakers and experts can be brought into the classroom from around the world for little to no cost.

When reflecting on how I have done this in the past, I feel that I can be more intentional when setting up the learning experience (Donovan, S., Bransford, J., & Pellegrino, J., 2000, p. 24) so that students can get the most out of the video conference call, and really utilize it as a motivating, knowledge building lesson, instead of it just being something that is just cool and neat to do. This is where I feel the review of the cognitive processes involved in learning through How People Learn (Donovan et al., 2000)  and the application of Koehler & Mishra’s (2008) TPACK framework, is an essential component of using technology meaningfully in the context of learning.

To begin planning I considered what enduring understandings my students should learn in our Where We Are In Place And Time unit of inquiry that examines previous civilizations. One concept that was really important to me was that students gain an understanding and appreciation for how the knowledge that we have about previous civilizations was discovered through the work of archaeologists. As students in the 21st century have information at their finger tips, it was important to me to provide them with the context of where the information came from originally and how it was built because these students have only lived in the digital age. This is a major component of what is driving my lesson and the use of the Backward Design Model by Wiggins and McTighe (2005), has allowed for the planning process to focus on the end and work backwards to achieve this enduring understanding at the completion of the task.

As we are an inquiry based school, it was also important for me to draw the connection between the strategies that archaeologist utilize and the skills that we focus on developing with our students to help them see the real world application of what they are learning in the classroom.

This lesson begins with identification of students prior knowledge and misconceptions. According to Donovan et al. (2000) “teaching is enhanced when teachers pay attention to the knowledge and beliefs learners bring to a learning task, use this knowledge as a starting point for new instruction, and monitor students’ changing conceptions as instruction proceeds” (p. 11). The use of sticky notes or a tool such as Padlet, allows for student thinking to be visible and documented to monitor changes that occur as a result of the learning experience. Through engaging students in discussions about their prior knowledge, common trends is thinking can be examined and instruction can be tailored to address any specific misconceptions that are present.

Following the initial diagnostic phase, a hook is used to increase the interest of the students so that they have increased motivation to participate in the learning task (Donovan et al., 2000, p. 61). The performance tasks is also introduced to assist in defining the learning goals an effective strategy according to Donovan et al. (2000, p. 18), and provide students with a context for their learning. It also helps students to have a better understanding of how their learning is going to be demonstrated so that they can be thinking about this throughout the learning process.

Next, students are engaged in the process of developing questions that will assist them in their learning. One tool that I have utilized frequently in teaching students how to ask better questions is the Q-Chart, as it helps to get beyond the basic surface level questions and assist kids in asking synthesizing and analyzing questions. Asking good questions is an important component of being a critical thinker, an important skill for success in the 21st century.

After students have had an opportunity to develop questions, they will share them at a class meeting or knowledge building talk. This will give student the opportunity to hear about the questions other students developed, and discuss what the qualities of the questions that they like are. Through this process, the learning becomes very student directed and the students begin to take ownership of the learning process.

Following all of the preparation, the video conference call would be arranged to take place. The use of video conference calling in the classroom is an effective re-purposing of the original design, that can be done with limited adaption from the original use (Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P., 2008). The call would be recording using video equipment for multiple purposes. If any students where absent, they would be able to watch the call and experience as much as possible what they would have experienced in class. The video can also be watched after if students had difficulty taking notes, or if there is any discrepancies about what the expert said. The teacher can also utilize the video to make clips for use in the future, or to watch specific students participating. As the students would have been participating in the video conference call, it is also a way to help make their thinking visible.

After the video conference call, students are provided time to work in small groups completing the graphic organizers to summarize the knowledge they have gained from the process. Working in small groups, students who were not able to make as many notes can have discussions with students who have other notes and they can co-construct their knowledge. A whole-class discussion would take place to synthesize the learning from the experience. During the process the initial ideas that the students recorded (prior knowledge and misconceptions) will be reexamined and students will complete a self-assessment form to identify how their thinking has shifted. This helps to develop students metacognative skills as they are able to think about their own thinking and how their thinking has changed as a result of a learning experience.

Now that students have had many opportunities to build and share their knowledge, they will begin to work on the performance task. The task is structured so that students can individualize the task to demonstrate their knowledge in multiple ways – as long as they can post something representative of their learning on their blog. This may mean they write a skit about being an archaeologist, a song, create an infographic, write a story, a comic or a more traditional piece of expository writing. Allowing for multiple ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge is also an effective strategy associated with the theory of multiple intelligences developed by Dr. Howard Gardner (“Theory of multiple intelligences”, 2013).

The utilization of blogging format allows for students to develop a digital portfolio of their work, but also to make peer-assessment a more natural process. Students would be engaged in making thoughtful comments on other students work, through moderated commenting (teacher must approve the comments). The teacher can also provide feedback to the students on their blog. Face-to-face conferencing would also be utilized to provide feedback as there are advantages to it over the digital format. When students received feedback face-to-face, the teacher is able to read the expression on the face of the student and make professional judgments about the degree of understanding the student is making when receiving the feedback. Also, certain types of feedback are more appropriate to provide in face-to-face context, to allow the student to have privacy.  Feedback is a critical component of the learning process, because it feeds our self-awareness regarding our own thinking and provides us with areas to focus on developing (Donovan et al, 2000, p. 59).

Through this process, I have utilized technology in a meaningful and intentional way to develop my students understanding of an enduring understanding. Planning lessons thoughtfully to incorporate cognitive science to teach in ways that support learning, utilize technology to help develop conceptual understanding of content, and support a variety of students in the process is done effectively through the use of the backward design model. Through developing conceptual understanding of these areas, teachers can become experts at effective experiential design and become fluent with how to do this more naturally – although even experts benefit from a good review from time to time!


Donovan, S., Bransford, J., & Pellegrino, J. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=030907036

Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK. In AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (Eds.) Handbook of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) for educators (pp. 3-30) New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. Retrieved from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/2008/05/28/tpack-handbook-chapter-1/

Theory of multiple intelligences. (n.d). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 3, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences

Wiggins, G and McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. ASCD. Chapter 1, “Backwards Design” pages 13-33.
Retrieved from http://books.google.ie/books?id=N2EfKlyUN4QC&printsec=frontcover&dq=backward+design&source=bl&ots=gmcDp7VO1v&sig=buNdUrqOhtK8k3Y3fWEtOq9H6JM&hl=en&ei=TPqhTOSPNcP2nAe-kNmIBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=backward%20design&f=false



  1. I really like how you set your students up for success with this lesson. It can be plugged into so many different content areas, and students will still walk away with gained understanding. Your writing is also very thoughtful and reflective.


  2. Hi Marcie,
    I particularly enjoyed reading through your 21st century lesson. You clearly have a grasp on the theory behind structuring meaningful lessons. I know that thinking about multiple intelligences is important for teachers and your lesson demonstrates plenty of variation.


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