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TCEA 2013 Presentation


Strategies for Engaging the 21st Century Learner

Presented by: Bridget Robinson @learningcanbfun (Technology Integration Specialist) and Amanda Psarovarkas - (Teacher) Clear Creek Independent School District

By providing a "Common Learning Framework" for teachers to include technology in the "Six Strategies for Engaging the 21st Century Learner," teachers are able to captivate students digitally using talking to learn, collaborative group work, scaffolding, literacy groups, writing to learn, and effective questioning.



Talking-to-Learn creates the space for students to articulate their thinking and strengthen their voice. It can take place in pairs, in collaborative group work and as a whole class. As students become accustomed to talking in class, the teacher serves as a facilitator to engage students in higher levels of discourse. Classroom talk opens the space for questioning, effective scaffolding and successful collaborative group work and literacy groups.

  • Online Discussion Boards
  • Webinars
  • Live Chats
  • Distance Learning
  • DragonDictation and Siri are great apps

Collaborative Group Work group work involves bringing students or staff members together in small groups for the common purpose of engaging in learning. Effective group work is well planned and strategic. Students or staff members are grouped intentionally with each individual held accountable for contributing to the group activity. Each activity is designed so that participants with diverse skill and knowledge levels are supported as well as challenged by their peers.



Scaffolding helps students to connect prior knowledge and experience with new information. Teachers use this strategy to connect students with previous learning in a content area as well as with previous learning in an earlier grade. Scaffolding also helps facilitate thinking about a text by asking students to draw on their subjective experience and prior learning to make connections to new materials and ideas.


Literacy Groups provide students with a collaborative structure for understanding a variety of texts and engaging in a higher level of discourse. Group roles traditionally drive literacy groups by giving each student a role to play and a defined purpose within the group. The specific roles or discussion guidelines may vary for different content areas, lengths of texts, or student level of sophistication using this strategy, but the purpose of literacy groups is to raise student engagement with texts by creating a structure within which they may do so.

  • Create groups in Edmodo, or your Learning Management System post via a Google Docs or a camera roll and start a discussion.
  • Online discussion boards w/ Pandia or Socratic seminars or any of your learning management tools. Teachers can even use Google Documents to create a discussion topic and students log in and can "comment".
  • Use online dictionary for vocab enrichment, Popplet or any other vocabulary app, so they can pre-post to connection they make
  • Discussion board
  • Group work with wikis
  • Summarize they can do Strip Designer, comic life or any comic creator
  • Use mind maps to track plot summary - the following online mind mapping tools are a great place to start: Bubblus, Mindomo, MindMeister, Mind42, Text 2 MindMap, WiseMapping, Edistorm, MindMup, MindMapping.com or Comapping
  • OER via Noredink.com for editing strategies.
  • Online surveys for the assessment.

Writing-to-Learn is a strategy through which students can develop their ideas, their critical thinking ability and their writing skills. Writing to learn enables students to experiment every day with written language and increase their fluency and mastery of written conventions. Writing to learn can also be used as formative assessment and as a way to scaffold mid- and high- stakes writing assignments and tests.


Effective Questioning challenges students and teachers to use good questions as a way to open conversations and further intellectual inquiry. Effective questioning (by the teacher and by students) deepens classroom conversations and the level of discourse students apply to their work. Teachers use this strategy to create opportunities for students to investigate and analyze their thinking as well as the thinking of their peers and the authors that they read in each of their classes.