Tag Archives: 21st century skills

A Book Printing Machine at Toronto Library!


The CBC reported that this past weekend the Toronto Reference Library unveiled book printing machine which allows individuals to walk away with store-quality books. As of now, authors can print 10 copies of  their books (150 pgs) for $145. A bit pricey in my opinion, but definitely unique with a lot of great potential for students, writers, educators, etc. CBC reports that “What’s new is the ability to self-publish books – whether your own piece of literature, a cook book, dissertation or whatever you choose for a relatively.” The Toronto Reference Library will soon be offering courses on how to best format books for professional looking books.

Read CBC article here:




Learning to Keyboard

Well, it’s Friday the 13th -a day I dread.  Although I (Cathy)  have never been a particularly superstitious person, I do believe in the law of averages.  And I have been  in three car accidents on Friday the 13th- never my fault!  What has this got to do with keyboarding you might ask?  Well, neck pain or whiplash (a common  condition resulting from car accidents), is exacerbated by constantly using a laptop placed on the lap.  Letting the head drop down towards the chest to view the keyboard, and letting it stay there for extended periods of time, worsens the condition.   Sooo, to help myself heal from all the unlucky car accidents (and acquire a 21st  century literacy skill ) I recently decided to learn to keyboard.  I now have an external keyboard attached to my lap top and a large screen monitor on my desk.  To view the screen I have to  keep my head up, neck erect and hands somewhere down there on the keyboard.   The goal, of course, is to not look down.  Yikes!  For those of you who are proficient at keyboarding, this might seem trite.  But there was a time when you didn’t know how, so try to be empathetic.

About one week ago I finally managed to make the transition.  My index fingers now automatically search out the little marker on the ‘j’ and ‘f’ keys so I know I am on the home row.  (My own children found this fact hilarious as they had forgotten those keys were even marked.  My husband , however is very impressed.  He says its too hard to learn).  Most importantly, I can now type without looking at the keys!  But dear, oh dear, m y    t y   p  i  n  g  i s ss ooo   ssss lll oooo wwww.  (If you only knew how long it took me to type this blog post!)

Yet, I persist.  Daily, I engage in a variety of  speed tests and even play typing video games.  (Yes, I can save the city from the aliens if I  type the correct word fast enough).  It’s actually quite fun.  I am constantly searching the net for new typing courses. My two favourites so far are:

Learning to Type at  http://www.learntyping.org/beginnertypinglesson3.htm


Typing for QWERTY   at  http://www.powertyping.com/qwerty/lessonsq.html

It’s amazing that effective courses like this are available on-line for free.

Now, if I coukd only type  bti faster, but stll be acrate, i might be able to find more ocurses… Sigh.  I wish I could just stay home today – not because it’s Friday the 13th-  I just really want to practice my keyboarding!



Conversational Competence

“Is there any 21st-century skill more important than being able to sustain confident, coherent conversation?”conversation

 As I watched my class struggle, I came to realize that conversational competence might be the single-most overlooked skill we fail to teach students. Kids spend hours each day engaging with ideas and one another through screens—but rarely do they have an opportunity to truly hone their interpersonal communication skills. Admittedly, teenage awkwardness and nerves play a role in difficult conversations. But students’ reliance on screens for communication is detracting—and distracting—from their engagement in real-time talk. (Paul Barnwell, 2014)

The author of this article, teacher Paul Barnwell, worries that without solid conversational skills our students won’t be able to manage important life conversations (e.g., job interviews, discssions with employers about salary negotiations, conversations with their partners, etc.) in their future which rely on them thinking on their feet (without access to Google!).

 MIT professor, Sherry Turkle, spends her time researching people’s relationship with technology. She wrote in the New York Times about the impact of tech-overload: “Face-to-face conversation unfolds slowly. It teaches patience. When we communicate on our digital devices, we learn different habits … we start to expect faster answers. To get these, we ask one another simpler questions. We dumb down our communications, even on the most important matters.”

I couldn’t agree more with Barnwell and Turkle. Teaching our students how communicate to solve problems, deal with emotions, and build meaningful relationships through conversations  is an essential skill which may need to be explicitly taught.

Read the entire article from The Atlantic below: