Blending Literacy, Character Development, and Substance Use Prevention Skills to Engage and Empower 21st Learners


 The curriculum unit plan designed for my upcoming Capstone Project will exhibit the strategic blending and/or the interweaving of literacy, character development, and substance use prevention skills to engage and empower 21st century learners, especially those that have been placed at-risk for disengaging from or dropping out of their immediate high or middle school learning environments. It will reinforce the need to tactfully design a more innovative, multi-faceted, and versatile unit plan for 7th to 12th grade English language arts (ELA) students.  It will be structured to arrange or align the ELA Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and incorporate effective as well as affective instructional methods, strategies, collaborations, and outcomes to address a wide array of skills that 21st century educators and learners could embrace in both alternative and traditional middle school and high school classrooms.  The contents of each of the engaging performance tasks, varied assessments, and progressive lessons will heighten the educator’s ability execute a purposefully blended and balanced unit plan over the course of twenty, one hour class periods or four, consecutive weeks. The unit plan will be rendered as a series of meaningful and inter-related learning activities, including a culminating project, that differentiates instruction, fosters collaboration between students and their peers, utilizes optimal digital tools and programs, and provides multiple approaches to aligning the curriculum for secondary level English language arts students. To assure proficiency, skill-building, and understanding in the areas of literacy, character development, and substance use prevention, the unit’s framework will promote the logical development of refined big ideas, essential questions, power and related ELA content standards, and the lessons’ criteria, resources, tasks, and assessments. Knowing that CCSS will require a greater focus on building higher order literacy skills to enhance students’ content knowledge while engaging them in more rigorous, persistent, and closer reading tasks, the priority to select and unpack the national power and related standards most fitting to analyzing or evaluating poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, drama, historical, and/or informational text has been considered. Therefore, implementing a comprehensive unit plan that incorporates multiple approaches to learning content through the differentiation of instruction and the utilization of the three stages of backward design to “identify the desired results, determine acceptable evidence, and scaffold learning experiences and instruction” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2006), can become the real change agent for fostering more dynamic and authentic learning opportunities for all students. Each student, especially those who have been placed at risk due to their resistance to practice self-efficacy and appropriate behaviors, will be required to make a more profound commitment to learn more actively rather than passively throughout the course of this unit plan.


Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2006). Understanding by design (2nd Ed.).Upper Saddle River,NJ:



Solving the Pieces to the Puzzle for the Future of Education

The 2011 Horizon Report

What is on the Horizon for my PLE and the future of education for my students who will interact with it? As I mentioned in a previous blog to my students… teaching and learning, in the 21 st century, challenges us to create, link, and think in smarter and more powerful ways!

So,  Anything’s Possible with the positive direction and  attitude that I’ve already taken and incorporated through the building of my PLE, my website, and through the creation of a course in the Learning Management System (LMS) now, famously known, as Moodle! My Horizon has been already broadened to some degree due to the recent implementation of more innovative skills, creative tasks, and learning objectives showcased throughout these digital networking systems.  The dedication and determination I applied to my PLE project, has allowed me to secure a higher level of confidence to work with more advanced technological tools and strategies. Previously, in my website’s vision, I made this statement that was, at that time, an indirect statement that addressed the broadening of my horizons. This is what I said and, now, really mean:


I’m envisioning why and how educators must partake in a mental, emotional, and physical shift to grasp the idea that “then was then” and “now is now”. With the future of education in sight, educators can surrender outdated methodologies by sorting through their personal challenges to transform their best practices and repertoires for teaching and learning to bring about necessary and positive change in their current learning environments. I can already see the shift in the students’ faces and attitudes as they interact with their teachers in more innovative ways….


Seeing the light that emerges from the puzzles pieces that we must engage in assembling, metaphorically, brings US closer to the BIG Picture. This a more complete picture of exactly what the future holds for both teachers and students in any educational arena. Shifts and/or changes must occur in more realistic and systematic ways to heighten the excitement, appreciation, and love for learning-a major rationale for throughout the rest of 2012 and beyond.

This earlier drafted statement does bring the Horizon I wish to broaden into view. Over the next 6 to 12 months, I can now envision how my students will link into my PLE and my Moodle courses to make an academic, creative, and attitudinal shift in order to learn their subject matter as the true NetGener population should in the 21st century. Skimming and scanning through the 2011 Horizon Report is always an eye-opening experience for educators especially. The vast addition of digital and virtual tools, programs, and strategies to any modern day academic curriculum, certainly, requires a reality check for educators in the area of strategic planning. Integrating the perfect combination of skills and outcomes that stem from my PLE’s designed pages, my Moodle courses’ activities, and The Horizon Report’s highlighted information will become the critical objective while planning for future lessons. D. Tapscott promotes Seven Tips for Educators (2009, p. 286) in his book, Grown Up Digital. He designates step number 6 to design educational programs according to the eight norms (p. 287). He states, in reference to students, that there should be choice, customization, transparency, integrity, collaboration, fun, speed, and innovation in their learning experiences. He continues by saying that an educator should leverage the strengths of Net Gen culture and behaviors in project- based learning. This step will become the motivator for the development of this website in more comprehensive and intriguing ways due to its capability and reliability to become the actual linkage or medium to the digital world and social media networks for my prepared and deserving students .


To be a true future ready teacher, I must begin to predict and plan how a variety of emerging technologies exemplified throughout The Horizon Report could be recognized, linked to, and utilized through my website and/or Moodle courses. For instance, once the report references the dramatic effects that Electronic Books and Mobiles can have the most current learning experiences for students, most teachers could not ignore their value in any classroom setting. This report points out that now that they are firmly established in the consumer sector, electronic books are beginning to demonstrate capabilities that challenge the very definition of reading. Audiovisual, interactive, and social elements enhance the informational content of books and magazines. Social tools extend the reader’s experience into the larger world, connecting readers with one another and enabling deeper, collaborative explorations of the text. The content of electronic books and the social activities they enable, rather than the device used to access them, are the keys to their popularity; nearly everyone carries some device that can function as an electronic reader, and more people are engaging with electronic books than ever before (2011, p. 8).

By revealing and digging deeper into this particular “emerging technology”, I have been able to get the attention of my school district’s Central Office regarding the restrictions placed on YouTube and the addition of a Virtual Library. I have faced the reality that Electronic Books would be too costly for my school program’s budget; so, adding these features to be visible and interactive through my PLE and Moodle course will open up a new, exciting, and engaging venue for my students to read, comprehend, and learn electronically. The myriad of reading and collaborative activities planned for my ELA and Social Studies classes will be incredibly enhanced through these necessary links/connections. This is just an example for how to find one-two of the essential yet missing puzzle pieces to encourage equitable learning for all! There is no doubt that the students will fall short of being excited and enlightened by interacting with their reading activities and long-term projects this way.

Horizons will be broadened some more because the innovative thinking, creating, and experimenting CANNOT stop here. Ethel Barrymore, a famous actress back at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, said it BEST:

“You must learn day by day, year by year to broaden your horizon. The more things you love, the more you are interested in, the more you enjoy, the more you are indignant about, the more you have left when anything happens.”

~Ethel Barrymore~

Developing a PLE is a work in progress. My graduate professor, Debby Kurti, who guided and inspired me through its development, just recently reminded me of this key point. Its customization of features and revelation of ideas must be in tune with the audience it serves. My students and my colleagues are a vital part of this audience. Through its title, Luv2Learn, the value placed on learning “day by day” and “year by year” has been emphasized in a multitude of ways so far.  However, as the quote points out, there are other factors involved in broadening those horizons in 21st century education. Those factors must involve the integration of…what you love, what you are interested in, what you enjoy, and, even, what makes you indignant or offended. Creating and enabling digital features in a PLE empowers both teachers and students to become pioneers of 21st century teaching and learning.

Referencing the 2011 Horizon Report prefaces the sense of empowerment that stems from the availability and applications of electronic tools and strategies. Locating and reading through current articles, especially for educators, will also have a positive effect on the changes and “shifts” that must occur in order to get creative and innovative goals met.

Here is a hyperlink to the many editions of Eduweek: Digital Directions (2012):  In its sections, tabs, and pages, you will find a number of current and past articles that embrace the effects of new technological advances that foster richer and even more challenged 21st century educational environments. It is a great resource to develop a better understanding of a teacher’s requirements and responsibilities to improve his/her skills and strategies and/or to have a “voice” to bring about change in his/her classrooms now and in the future.

In closing, I would like to leave you with this impressionable quote by Maya Angelou, a prophetic, female, American poet that harnesses the meaning behind “broadening one’s horizons” through change:

“The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.”  ~Maya Angelou

When WE are open to the idea of moving forward and making the necessary changes or shifts in our attitudes or thinking (since the horizon leaves space for that), especially about the future of education, we can arrive at more innovative strategies or methods to live, teach, and, most importantly, to LEARN by. A real future ready educator must make a commitment to creating, thinking, and linking in smarter and more powerful ways!


Let Me Know What You Think….

~~M. Rivadeneyra~~


Education Week Digital Directions. Balancing Innovation and Technology. Vol. 04,

Issue Spring/Summer 2011.  Retrieved from:


Johnson, L. Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The Horizon Report. Austin, Texas:  The New Media Consortium

 Tapscott, D. (2009). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw Hill Companies. quotations. (1999-2012). Retreived from:

Forecasting the Future of Education through Luv2Learn.Net


If this is the FORECAST for the Future of Education, What Will a Teacher and Her Students DO to Become More Prepared?

What an exciting prospect for my students and I to observe each other and learn from each other while performing more digital/electronic tasks that will build our virtual and collaborative skills. Through the conception and mission of my PLE, I’m anticipating an outcome that will make learning Exciting, Energizing, Encouraging, Enlightening, Equitable—and, to add where we need to be headed to EDUCATE our students in the 21st Century—Essential and Electronic! Each of these eight words preceded by the letter, “E”, will continue to reverberate in my more creative and adaptive teacher’s brain to not only launch and develop a more dynamic website but to, personally, aid in my transition as I transform my teaching and learning methods to best serve my students in the year 2012 and beyond. The Eight E’s will become a highlighted feature throughout the website to challenge not only my skills and techniques but those of my tech-savvy students, their inquisitive parents, tech-driven colleagues, and proactive administrators as we make a stronger commitment to 21st Century teaching and learning.

Part of this mission is also to hone in on the thinking behind Don Tapscott’s reference to the first generation to come of age in the digital age. In his book, Growing up Digital: the Rise of the Net Generation (1997), he stated:

For the first time in history, children are more comfortable, knowledgeable, and literate than their parents with an innovation central to society. And it is through the use of the digital media that the Net Generation will develop and superimpose its culture on the rest of society. Already these kids are learning, playing, communicating, working, and creating communities very differently than their parents. They are a force for social transformation (2009, p. 24).

This reference clearly points out, even fifteen years later, that the learning process for this notorious generation needs to be altered to accommodate their learning styles in a high-tech, digital world. It also has become the riveting factor to monitor and adjust HOW I can reach them better. So… the idea for this website has come to fruition out of my love for teaching and learning.  I hope to convey this message to many others as I create new options for learning, technologically, through the website’s features. The .net for Luv2Learn signifies that “networking” would be a key component while interacting with and linking to those features and other individuals like their parents and my colleagues, so that informing, learning and collaborating together can become the norm or part of a “culture” we can all embrace and contribute to. We can no longer wait to become part of this culture and transformation. Let’s see how we can make it happen….


Please share your insights in the comment section below.

M. Rivadeneyra


Tapscott, D.  (1997). Growing Up Digital:  The Rise of the Net Generation. New   York:  McGraw Hill.










This is a website where opportunities to LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN will be Encouraged! Students, Teachers, Parents, and Administrators will ALL find something to learn about in the posts, links, blogs, and pages to follow.  Lessons WILL be learned regarding a variety of Literary Selections, Historical Events, Written Expressions, Creative Projects, Critical Thinking Excercises, Character Development Traits, and Study Skills to name a few. The contents of this website have been designed to heighten your awareness about the Eight E’s:  A Formula for Success in conjunction with Eight Technology-Based Pillars for Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century Classroom




    **There is something here for everyone who enters this website.**

 **There will be items to Link To,  Think About, React To , and Interact With.**

TOGETHER… I look forward to interacting with you and solving the pieces to our puzzles….



As we ENTER and NAVIGATE this website, we will UTILIZE a new process for BUILDING skills and knowledge while MANTAINING a postive attitude!


Take some time to navigate the website on your own. Afterwards, go to the comment  section and provide some feedback about what YOU would like to see appear its future pages. As you know, this would be the designated area to express your thoughts, views, ideas, questions, or any other comments that support this website’s mission and vision.


Stay in Touch….

                                M. Rivadeneyra

                                          –A.K.A–Mrs. R.