As of September 19th, about 13.7% of the 21st century has passed. If you were to miss 13.7% of a movie, you would know you were late, and you would spend much of the movie catching up and figuring out what you missed. In many ways, our classrooms are in the same position - they have not entered the 21st century, so our students are left to figure out what they missed and catch up as best they can. This issue is one that we must address if we want our students to be successful throughout their lives.
To be clear, this issue is not one that technology can solve. Technology can be a useful tool in the classroom, but putting an iPad in a student's hands does not automatically prepare them for the 21st century. Rather, this issue is one of helping our students develop the skills they need to succeed in a world that is changing more and more quickly. One area educators can focus on is developing the four C's of 21st century learning: Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical Thinking.
Some ideas for encouraging creativity include:
In an increasingly connected world, our students' future success will be closely tied to their ability to work closely with other people. By working together in teams to accomplish a common goal, students learn how to compromise and take shared responsibility for the end result.
Some ideas for encouraging collaboration include:
Next, 21st Century learning expects that students can clearly articulate their thoughts and ideas in a variety of situations to a variety of audiences. At the same time, students must be able to listen effectively in order to decipher the meaning of what they hear. This skill is closely intertwined with the other 3 C's - two-way communication is vital to collaboration, and the most creative ideas in the world are useless if the student cannot share them with anyone.
Some ideas for encouraging communication skills include:
The digital world today's students live in is constantly bombarding them with information, opinions, and data, and critical thinking is an essential skill that allows the students to make sense of this information overload. Students should be able to analyze evidence to determine what is and is not relevant, and they should be able to use that evidence to reason through a situation. Additionally, they should be able to draw purposeful conclusions about a situation based on the best available evidence, then reevaluate those conclusions as new information is introduced.
Some ideas for encouraging critical thinking include:
For more information on 21st century skills and the four C's, check out the website for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills at www.p21.org and the resources available under the 21st Century Skills section of this website, accessible through under the Instructional Growth menu at the top of this page.
In the comments, please share ideas for integrating the 4Cs into your units of instruction.
Post by Tony Harman | Excelsior Springs High School Instructional Coach
This will be a resource built by the staff for the staff to encourage integration of 21st century skills into every student's learning.