Monday, December 20, 2010


The first line in Chapter One of 21st Century Skills states, "we are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist...using technologies that heven't yet been order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet." I think this statement sums up what the 21st Century Skills are all about. We, as educators, need to learn from the past in order to help our future. We need to create lessons that cause students to critically think for and by themselves to be able to solve any problems they may encounter. Not only should our students be able to read, write, and apply mathematical skills, but also create answers to problems by themselves, with only guidance from the teacher. We should expect a lot out of our students, but when they are old enough to "be in the real world" there is going to be a lot that is expected of them so starting now should prepare them for success. And we also need to keep in mind that this knowledge should not come to our students naturally. These skills should be modeled, practiced, and modeled, and practiced over and over, until students become accustomed to learning and thinking with this "new" knowledge. Once students prove that they understand these skills, we should model and practice these skills once more to reinforce the importance of independence and the always-seeking-information-and-self-improvement attitude. Doing this will help ensure that students can be ready for a future where they will encounter jobs, technologies, and problems that do not exist yet.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Section 6 Learning for Life - Building a Better World

The last section of the book summarized the ideas of 21st Century Skills changing our world. Education has always been important, but most recently has been seen "as the golden ticket to a brighter economic future." How we educate our chidren now depends on how successful they will be in the future which in turn determines how our own future will be. Section 6 reflected on our recent global recession. Stating that our tough times now is a glimpse of the future and what a lack of education can bring. Even though these times are difficult, they serve as an important lesson of what we need to fix so we can bring a bigger and better change of life. No one wants to live a life of worry, depression, struggling families, or unproductive economies. So what do we do about it?! We step up and help to make a difference! We give our children the skills necessary to secure a job and to contribute to their economy. And because all countries can benefit from these 21st Century Skills, we should share our ideas and even get more ideas from each other. If we all have the same goal in mind, and can cooperate to achieve this goal, we will be better prepared for a bright future. Students are already learning together and communicating through global networking, why can't we? "Students are already making a difference in our 21st century world." When we put effort towards providing a learning atmosphere where students can take risks and make their own discoveries, students dive into the depths of learning, instead of skimming the surface. Many teachers have discovered this, and have found that students are capable of doing much more than anyone ever thought they could! Children are natural-born problem seekers and solvers, we just need to provide them with an environment where they can practice that. As long as the problems we provide are meaningful, "there are few limits to what students will learn to help solve the problem." We need to know our students inside and out. We need to know what they love and care about so we can harness that passion to fully engage our students, and use 21st Century Skills to create meaningful and memorable knowledge that they can use to solve problems. Students should not be expected to graduate and automatically know how to do all of this, they will need lots of practice to become 21st Century Learners, and we need to be the people that give them that practice and guidance. "It's time to give all our students the chance to learn how to build a better world."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Section 5 Retooling Schooling

Section 5
Retooling Schools
This chapter identifies five support systems that can work together to support 21st century learning, understanding and skills performance. These support systems take a look at standards, assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development and learning environment. If we look at standards we find them set up to find out what our children should be learning. However, for the 21st century learner we need to look at what students should be able to do with the content that we teach. 21st century standards will also include levels of mastery for a standard from novice level to expert. (p.126) Today’s standards have been designed for the way we test which has made teachers focus on coverage rather than depth of understanding. Not only is this a national trend we find it to be true in a global sense as well. Despite what we are going through we need to focus on developing standards that focus on real-world problems that promote learning across all disciplines. (p.129) We also need to look at designing standards that the depth increases as students progress through the grade levels and promote looking at the big idea over long periods of time. Assessment is the second support system to look at for change. We all know that assessment is crucial to learning; it guides instruction and provides feedback. Unfortunately we are getting what we measure and finding ourselves teaching to the test. This type of teaching has often focused students on memorizing the content as well as causing stressful learning experiences. 21st century assessment is focused on the deeper understanding and applied knowledge that can come from rigorous learning projects. (p.131) A combination of summative and formative evaluation that measure content knowledge, basic skills, higher order thinking skills, and deep comprehension and understanding, is needed for educating the whole child. This third support system needed to retool schools is how we design curriculum and instruction. Basically providing a curriculum based upon using inquiry, design, and collaborative learning projects that include a blend of the learning methods is needed for the 21st century. Providing professional development for teachers in the 21st century is another key component of retooling schools. The following characteristics are needed to provide essential professional development: a) engaging teachers in designing, implementing, managing, and assessing learning activities and projects that reflect their own values and beliefs, b) incorporating teacher’s own questions, issues and challenges and the latest research c) collaborate experiences and expertise of other teachers d) connect teacher’s work with students and teacher’s curriculum e) provide ongoing support through modeling, coaching, and mentoring f) intergrading all aspects of school change, reform and transformation. (p.139) The final component of retooling schools is the learning environment. “Building 21st century “whole environments for the whole child” involves changes in the educational use of space and time, technology , and communities and leadership.” (p.139) In the future we will need to look at using our school facilities as a “learning studio” for not only students but the entire community. This chapter looked at five key components that if implemented correctly will change the focus on how we educate students in the United States.