ASCD Top 5 List – #4


Implementing 21st Century Skills/Competencies

Continuing my ASCD Top 5 List from yesterday is #4 – Implementing 21st Century Skills.  Ever since implementing our district strategic plan “21st Century Skills” has been an on-going conversation in our district.  We’re using multiple resources including Wagner’s The Global Achievement Gap, Costa’s Habits of Mind, and Resnick’s Accountable Talk to inform and shape our future practices.  While at ASCD I attended multiple sessions on 21st century skills.  I have a little bit better picture of what we need to do, but it still is not perfectly clear to me.  However, I did find a couple of interesting resources to guide our future thinking

  • 21st Century Skills Content Area Maps – The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has released content area maps demonstrating examples of how each one of their identified skills can be integrated in grades 4, 8, and 12 for a given subject area.  Currently they have maps for ELA, Science, Social Studies, and Geography.  The maps are available on their Publications Page.  These maps might be a good place for us to start thinking about what 21st century skills might actually look like in classrooms.
  • 21st Century Assessment – Most of the “canned” assessments are the same one Wagner discussed in The Global Achievement Gap.  However, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, author of Curriculum 21, talked about building more authentic assessments including written essays, portfolios, demonstrations, etc.  I think many of our teachers will need help moving in this direction, but Hayes-Jacobs offered the advice, “just upgrade one assessment each unit” as a place to start.
  • 21st Century Professional Learning – In multiple sessions it was mentioned that teachers themselves are not all 21st century learners.  As a result professional learning must start with them.  A presentation by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills suggested on working with a cadre of teachers to start and focus on one skill or competency at a time.  During each workshop teachers would learn what tools (digital and analog) and instructional practices best support a particular competency.  This is an interesting idea for future professional learning.
  • 3 Questions – In her session Hayes-Jacobs kept asking these three questions
    • What will you cut?
    • What will you keep?
    • What will you create?

As we plan we should always keep these three in mind.  Our teachers are already overloaded, so we need to be precise in what we will be keep and what we will cut.  We will also need to spend time creating some items.  Hayes-Jacobs talked about “upgrading” one lesson and one assessment each unit or chapter as a place to start.  I agree…it seems to me that this would be a logical place to begin.



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