What needs to be in a 21st Century classroom – In my opinion, anyway!


As I am taking these courses with the hopes of being a teacher-librarian, and since I am not yet working in the learning commons but instead work as a grade 4/5 French Immersion teacher, I am focusing my final vision project ideas on what could be of need in a 21st Century classroom.  That being said, when I look at the two ideas I am considering, I believe that they could also be beneficial for a SLLC and TL respectively:

My first consideration for a project idea was to look at flexible space…not just furniture (that too) but movement within the classroom and being flexible in one’s approach to how learning is presented and how children will respond to that learning.  From what I have seen over the last 20 years as a teacher, is a huge shift in how children want/need to learn, their methods of representing their learning and physically, how they need to “feel” in order to get to that representation.  I see that today’s children need to move and be comfortable to work and learn at school but, sadly, I know many teachers who still use the “sit at the desk and work” approach.  Therefore, my first vision project ideas was to look at the latest research of why this latter approach is no longer beneficial for all learners and how flexibility in space promotes learning.  For example, if you came into my classroom you would see children sitting at desks, lying on the floor, standing and writing, sitting on the poof-ottomans, some using Chromebooks, some prefer the desktop computers and more.  The key aspect being that they are all working, applying knowledge, researching and collaborating in sometimes, a not-so-quiet space.


My second consideration for a final vision project falls very close to my heart, having been a child who owned over 500 Archie comic books and was told, by her parents, that if I didn’t read anything else I would never amount to anything (old-school tough Scottish parents).  Well, 4 Bachelors and 2 Masters Degrees later, I am pretty sure that all Archie comics did for me was feed my need to visual learning and stimulate a love of reading.  I would like to all teachers to start to recognize the benefits, value and importance of allowing graphic novels in the classroom.  I think that teachers undervalue how graphic novels can truly teach children and support learning.  They see them as “lower-level” reading when, in fact, they are multimodal, using images and text to convey meaning.  The stories can be very complex and colour choices can affect how children represent emotion in the text.  I think the 21st century classroom should have a library of them and we should teach children how to read them as multimodal literature.


In writing about these ideas to our beloved leader, Aaron, he wisely pointed out that the challenge for this latter idea is in creating a useable, shareable digital artifact that can be useful for not just me, but also my colleagues.  I’m still racking my brain about the best way to present the information but, I do know that I want teachers to have easy access to grade appropriate graphic novels (GNs) and not have to spend hours hunting down the best ones (like I did…FYI, Hamlet graphic novel is NOT appropriate from grade 4/5, but I loved it); hence, some kind of list with links is in order.  I also want to provide information about GNs that come in a series.  There are MANY amazing ones out there and my students are always asking me to check up release dates in expectation of the next GN in the series.  Furthermore, it’s important to help FI teachers, like me, to find French graphic novels that have language that it not too complex for the age and level of the students.  My brain is leaning towards a blog where I could provide lesson plans for teachers taking their first foray into teaching using GNs.


9 thoughts on “What needs to be in a 21st Century classroom – In my opinion, anyway!

  1. A very well done description blog of the process you are going through internally to explore your interests, passions, experiences and influences and how best to evolve these into shareable and useful artifacts for others. I think, based on reading this post, that your graphic novel idea is the one that is closest to your passion and life long interests and therefore would be a more successful project and one you could speak to and share with others in a multitude of ways (Presentation, Video, Blog, Conference Workshop?). A good narrative post guiding us through your thinking!


  2. Hey Allison,

    First of all, thanks for your comment on my post and for sharing that site you used to during your masters. I like that you are sharing your big ideas here and that you had more than one direction you could go in. It’s great because you can still continue to work on the first idea about creating a flexible space in your classroom, just less formally once our course is complete. On that note, I have been listening to these quick, interesting podcasts on ‘the 10 minute teacher podcast’. I recently listened to an episode called ‘Flexible seating: before and after’. Its short and sweet but you might find it interesting to hear about the types of furniture this teacher used.

    Helping teachers better understand how to use graphic novels is a unique and useful idea. Creating a blog where teachers could access ready made lesson plans would be very practical. As a classroom teacher, finding a resource which has been created by a fellow educator is priceless and the best way for teachers to see the usefulness of GN’s. I look forward to seeing some of your lesson ideas as I just may want to snag them myself 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting, I was just have the Archie comic conversation with my teaching partner today. We have some parents that are really pushing novels, and think the students should move away from Archie. But, we are finding that we have some students that are much more engaged in reading than they would ben normally. I encourage Archie comics, because I also read them over and over as a kid. When my cousin brought me a box of 200+ comics as I kid, I read every one of them…to this day, I receive an Archie as part of my Christmas presents, that I take and add to my collection at school!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Allison, I love your idea! While our library has a fair number of graphic novels I have never tried to craft lessons around them. I would very much like to see some lesson plan ideas.

    Recently I attended an exhibit at the Glenbow museum in Calgary which showcased a workshop using GN, Indigenous youth, and mask making. The students read a graphic novel, created masks which symbolized a differentiation between an inner and out identity, and they wrote their own narratives and GN images. Since then I have been thinking about how I might adapt some of these ideas for a graphic novels unit in my own classroom.

    I am also always looking for new titles, although my target audience is a little older (grades 7-12). Nevertheless, I am sure your idea would be a benefit to a lot of educators.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My kids read quite advanced graphic novels but many I can’t have in class because of the explicit drawings. I once ordered a comic from Scholastic and was surprised to see the very large breasted superhero women throughout! Not good for grade 4…Scholastic got a call!


  4. We are all loving your topic for a couple for a couple of reasons I think. One being it is a bit different than everyone else’s so it gives some good food for thought and we are curious to see what you come up with! Second, Aaron mentioned your passion and I felt that about your writing on the topic, as well. You have excitement in your words as you wrote your post! Lastly, everyone knows a kid that just loves the graphics. I have teachers than are like you, happy to have kids reading something! Other teachers insist that the kids HAVE to have a novel. I will be interested to see what your final artifact is. I think it will prove quite useful to many of us. I do know that our library collection has a growing graphic novel area and the books are definitely taken out LOTS. Chi and Zita Spacegirl plus all the books by Telgemeier (Drama is a good SOGI selection) and Martin are super popular other than the Bone, Cavlin, Amulet, and Big Nate’s that is.. Just bought some Hardy Boy graphics to see their popularity. I know that the teacher in charge of ordering books for lit. circles at our school made sure there were a couple graphics for that option for teachers. I think you’d like my box of comics I drag out for our own kids to read once and awhile (all my kids like to read them from age 9-14). They were my moms when she was little so they are 5 and 10 cent comic books like Robin Hood and Peter Pan. None of our kids are super into graphics, but they do like those old ones!


  5. Thanks for all the suggestions…I actually have bought every one of them! “Witch Boy” is also a good SOGI GN if you’re looking for your library and it’s available in French as well!


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