21st Century Skills…now where have we heard this? It seems to be the new catch phrase in education…really this phrase is used in the workforce as well. Everyone across the U.S. is trying to gear up and prepare for our future as a nation and everyone as individuals. Now is the time to enhance our skills to keep up with the rest of the world.

You know this and we know this, so why is Texas ASCD writing a blog entry about 21st Century Skills? Well, one reason is the theme for the 2010 Texas ASCD conference is “Designing Boundless Futures for 21st Century Learners,” and secondly, do we really understand the skills and know how to prepare our youth to use these skills? Ken Kay with the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) will be presenting a keynote session at the annual conference on “21st Century Readiness for Every Student.” So what are these 21st Century Skills he will be discussing? If you visit the P21 website: http://www.p21.org/index.php, you will be able to view framework that Ken Kay will be basing his session on. During this presentation he will be going into details on the 3 R’s (Readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic) and the 4 C’s (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity) of these skills. The P21 group believes that it is very important for us to fuse these skills together to be able to compete globally.

While doing some research about 21st Century Skills on the Internet, I came across a blog entry titled, “21st Century Workforce Readiness.” (http://21stcenturylearning.typepad.com/blog/2009/02/newport-news-public-schools-is-moving-quickly-to-address--learning-in-the-21st-century-its-barriers-and-its-possibilities.html) The author of this blog participated in a focus group made up of business, education, political and community leaders. The reason I found this blog entry interesting is because, not only did they discuss skills and barriers of 21st century skills, but they also came up with recommendations on what we can do as educators to prepare the students and ourselves. I have highlighted a few of their suggestions below:

  • Put together on-line learning communities for leadership. This system can be used to discuss problems and barriers collaboratively. As a school or district you can address needs and how others are able to help (provide ideas). This community should be available for administrators, staff, teachers, students and business leaders.
  • Use technology whenever you can. Discuss global connections with current events.
  • Allow and teach educators how to build their own online personal learning networks. They should know the importance of this online community and how allowing students to communicate this way would prepare them for the workforce.
  • Look at the technology skills you have on your campuses/districts. Have teachers teach other teachers what they know and how they are using technology in their classrooms. Don’t reinvent the wheel; just modify it to address gaps in the curriculum.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask students to show you how they are using technology. Let them help you develop skills and tools they are familiar with.

Please feel free to respond to the questions below:

1. What do you think of the suggestions above?
2. Is your school/district doing something else to meet these needs?


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