21st Century Skills

What do we need to teach our students to be successful in the 21st Century? Take a look the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Framework. How could these be implemented in your classroom? What are the benefits of implementing these skills for your students?

What a timely question, as this is a topic I have really been exploring lately in a PLC.  We began by sifting through the framework and viewing the video "shift happens"  (found at 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpEnFwiqdx8&feature=PlayList&p=5F590F7F343F386C&index=42).  After going through (literally hundreds of) pages of links, information and research, and contacting leaders in the field of 21st century skills, we/I am looking specifically at implementing a set of selected skills curriculum for next year based on the following ideas:

                Civic literacy includes

  • §         Being aware of issues in your community and the world
  • §         Understanding communication
  • §         Cooperating with others
  • §         Resolving conflict
  • §         Being part of a team
  • §         Explaining how service benefits our world

Media literacy includes wading through the abundance of information in our world and asking:  

  • §         Do you have access to information?
  • §         Do you know how to find information?
  • §         Do you know if your information is accurate?
  • §         Do you have the skills to keep up with rapidly-changing technology?

Communication and collaboration includes:

  • §         Expressing thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively through speaking and writing
  • §         Demonstrating ability to work effectively with diverse teams
  • §         Make compromises, make changes, to get to a common goal
  • §         Share responsibility when working together

  The items I am choosing to focus on in my classroom include:  a service learning project in Environmental Issues (my “civic literacy” item), updating my Science in the News reflection guide to include more work on facts/ opinions, identifying bias, and identifying the true source of information (my “media literacy” item), along with consistently implementing more of the 6 traits of writing in my students’ lab reports and project proposals (my “communication and collaboration” item).   Whew… it is a lot, but the goals are lofty; if we want our students to be functional in each of the skill areas of the 21st century framework we need to start somewhere.  

I think the benefits of implementing these skills into the classroom and curriculum are that we are preparing students to work and function in an ever-changing technologically advancing world.  


Connectivism - the networked student

Knowing you are one of many teachers a student like this will have in their educational career:
How connected are you? Are you a 21st Century learner, teacher or both? What role do you play in supporting the 21st Century student?

What an interesting video clip.  As I viewed it, I reflected on how disconnected my students without access to technology (beyond the classroom) must feel.  As much as I try to be a 21st Century teacher (granted, I'm still defining what that means), I feel very limited by the resources available to the kids I teach.  In the classroom our technology has been very unreliable and outside of the classroom a majority of my students do not have access to computers or expensive electronic gadgets; even getting transportation to the library to use a public computer is an issue.  

When trying to figure out how best to support my students' learning, I ask myself (and the learner):  
What is my students' background skill level? 
If this student does not have access to technology, what, realistically, can I expect him/her to be able to utilize in the class time provided? 
Can this student discern between reliable and unreliable information, recognize bias, and clearly identify the true source of their information?
Once I have a baseline, it is much easier to determine how I can support the learner. Honestly, in my class right now I  am still focusing on where do you get your information and how do you know if it can be trusted. This is a skill that is transferable to all media regardles of your socioeconomic status. 


Successful Lesson

What has been your most successful lesson where you have integrated technology so far? What made it successful? How would you modify it for the next time you use it?  What are some other ways you are planning on integrating technology this year?

The most successful lessons I have had with the students have been end of unit reviews.  The students really enjoy "playing" with the smart board.  Whether it is an interactive crossword puzzle, vocabulary race, drag and drop or beat the timer pictionary the participation and enthusiasm level is high.  
Each time I do a review, I modify it for the student group; however, I would love to be able to have 2 people write on the smartboard at the same time.
I continue to try to integrate technology into my classes when ever I have the time to prep for it.  I would like to have students create videos/ audio files of labs or presentations in the classroom for an "LACS virtual library."  I would also like to have students maintain a classroom blog.  Most of my students are very net savvy and tech ready...unfortunately, not all of my students have equal access to computers or gadgets outside of the classroom, so what we provide in the classroom is the extent of their experiences. 


3.19 Favorite smart board lesson

For me, I love that I can quickly move between note pages, video links and graphics (like interactive maps) while simultanously recording notes with the kids all from the front of the classroom (or better yet, students can do it!).
Students are so much more engaged when they help to select and analyze our sources, write our notes / record data on the smartboard for all to see and together follow a (meaningful) tangent. For example, today we were learning about the global water crisis. We pulled up an interactive map of the world that showed water data and stats, pulled up google earth to see more details about the landscapes, explored individual nations websites for statistics and watched videos clips from a variety of sources on the quality of water and water availability in different nations. Did I mention that a student was leading the class? It was fantastic, fun and educational!