Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

I spent some time exploring the website of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.  Here are my thoughts:

* My reaction to the website: 
I had never heard of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills prior to visiting the organization's website.  I had to spend time to understand what the organization was all about.  At first, I wasn't clear as this is so very new to me.  However, I found several online videos under "Tools and Resources" that helped to explain what teaching and learning looks like in the 21st century schools.  The overview of the framework includes a detailed outline and description of skills, standards, and outcomes.    

* Information that surprised me:
When I looked under "State Initiatives," I noticed that my state is not listed.  I also noticed that only 16 states are listed.  This surprised me because the organization was founded nine years ago in 2002.  With all of the advances in technology in the business community and in education, why hasn't every state been exposed to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills?

* I disagree with...:
 I am excited to infuse 21st century skills into education.  It just makes sense.  I'd like to see more states take part in this initiative.  I think it should be enforced.  With that being said, I think that the idea of joining 21st century skills with the world of education is vital to our students today.  I would like to see a forum for educators on this organization’s website. I would like to see a place where teachers, administrators, and district leaders can have a voice.  Okay, so now we become members of the P21 organization, then what? 

* Implications:
It is necessary for students to learn the core curriculum simultaneously with the new literacies that come with the technology of today and of the future.  Our students should continue to work cooperatively, but now in a whole new way - virtually.  Once our students begin working cooperatively with members outside of their physical group within the four walls of the classroom, a whole new world opens up.  Be it blogging with other students in another class period, or with students in another school, state, or even country, 21st century skills will naturally be implemented.   Not only do our students need to know the basics of technology - formatting, designing, problem-solving, creating, and manipulating - they also must understand the purpose and objective.

Collaboration is important.  Some problems are so complicated that they must be examined by a group of people.  Dr. Dede (2010) suggested problems in the world today are becoming more "wicked", or complex, therefore groups are necessary.  Students should have the opportunity to collaborate and work together with people of different skills and backgrounds in order to make meaning of problems and synthesize information together.  Dede also stated that "we need to change pedagogy and curriculum and the assessment systems so that students are being assessed on their ability to work in a group performance." Hence, 21st century skills will be a necessity in collaboration and the workplace.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). [Webcast]. Skills for the 21st century. Baltimore: Author


  1. Melissa,

    I was also very concerned with the lack of participation by various states. If the program has existed for 9 years and only 16 states have initiatives regarding 21st century skills, that is a serious red flag. This is the first that I have been exposed to this website and organization. As an educator, I feel that these resources are beneficial and helpful in planning and implementing curriculum. However, if they are not well advertised, and educators are not aware that they exist, that is probably the reasoning behind the lack of state interest.

    I completely agree with your idea of having an educator forum on the website. Upon perusing the site, I found it full of helpful resources but there was no way of adding my own ideas, concerns, or thoughts. A forum or blog for educators would be a profound tool, as we would learn from one another and model the collaboration we are trying to form in our students.

    As far as implications, I feel that educators will be facing numerous challenges. First and foremost, we are required to teach and model these particular skills with very little training on how to do so. Students will be inundated with varied technology and exposed to a whole new way of thinking and doing things. While this is an incredible advancement, we also need to focus on the students who are not primarily entering the business field but other trades as well. We need to teach students how to collaborate, think critically, and problem solve with an emphasis on the skills they already possess. Not every student is headed for academia and will need to acquire these 21st century skills in various ways. We need to recognize these skills and use their interests to address them.

  2. Malissa, one of the first things I noticed was that my state was not a member either. You would think that every state in the union would want to lead the charge towards 21st century education. I know that many schools lack the necessary equipment and resources to qualify as a 21st century school, so it is puzzling to me why all states are not a part of the initiative.

    I also think that teachers should have a voice in all this. Even teachers that are not technology savvy can contribute to the conversation and bring new ideas and perspectives to the table. Every county and school should be greatly concerned about the level of technology in their schools. Education needs to catch up with the real world and start providing 21st century skills to all students throughout our country.

    I like your idea of students working together in a virtual environment. Kids are exploring virtual worlds today. The PlayStation 3 has an online world called PlayStation Home where people interact and communicate in a virtual world. Another website is called Second Life, where online students attend an online world using an avatar. This form of virtual interaction is going to be much more common-place in the future, and our kids are already there.

    Collaboration is also extremely important. And not just for the teachers, but for the students as well. If we are to teach blogging and wikis to our students, then we should model these behaviors and use them in the school for collaboration. The more the teachers get use to using this technology, the easier it will be for them to teach it to the students.

  3. Christopher,

    You stated, "I know that many schools lack the necessary equipment and resources to qualify as a 21st century school, so it is puzzling to me why all states are not a part of the initiative." I am sure that funding ranks high on the list of why-not. It was shocking for me to read, "Ironically, the federal No Child Left Behind law includes Enhancing Education through Technology section mandating that every student become technology literate by the end of eighth grade. But there are few, if any, federal funds going to schools under this mandate, and the law doesn't clearly define this mandate" (Miners & Pascopella, 2007, p. 28). I ask myself... 2011 and we've only come this far in education - with all of the technological advances happening in the world around us??

    You are right - every teacher should have a voice when it comes to the success of our 21st century students. Technology should not be a scary thing, but a tool to help further develop our students' critical thinking skills. It should simply be a requirement, just like dry erase boards and textbooks in every classroom.

    ~ Malissa

    Miners, Z., & Pascopella, A. (2007). The new literacies. District Administration, 43(10), 26–34. Used by permission.

  4. Jennifer,

    You bring up excellent points with regards to the multitude of challenges that educators face when implementing technology into their classrooms. Funding, availability, training, and instructing are all important aspects while connecting 21st century skills into our own situations.

    You are right - not all students will graduate, or even attend college. Although we stress the value of education, it is simply a fact of life. After all, what would we do without plumbers, electricians, and hair stylists? We should incorporate students' interests and allow choices. Perhaps offering avenues and allowing students to decide how to accomplish the task. Maybe the types of problems in which students solve together addresses students' learning styles and interests. The purpose though remains the same for all students - working together to solve a problem while developing critical thinking skills.

    ~ Malissa

  5. After reading an article on 21st Century skills, I feel it’s essential to incorporate these skills in the classroom to help prepare students for life after school. I realize that my school district is trying to implement the same skills. Last school year all academic areas had to create teaching units for all the state standards and elements. The district wanted teachers working together to gain an understanding of what the standard is asking and develop lessons based on our understanding. The lesson had incorporate collaborative assignments; student centered, and is creative the requirement fall under learning and innovation skills in the 21st century frame work. The lessons also had to incorporate some kind of technology and relate the curriculum to the real world. I feel my district is heading in the right direction. One skill that several of the middle school teacher struggle with is student centered activities. We want students to explore and think critical about how the curriculum. In order for us to be effective in this area we will need some training. We also attend various workshops on collaborative, using technology, developing assessments, and creating an effective learning environment. I understand that your concern that only 16 states are recognize as participating in 21st century skills. I think there may be a lot more states and district that are using the ideas but are not being recognized the group.
    Alicia Roberts

  6. Malissa

    Like many others i am also concerned with how many states have adopted rules, regulations, or guidelines for incorporating or adopting 21st century skills. Knowing that there are many states out there that do not have these standards is frightening. I teach technology and i know i have a hard time keeping up with the current trends. I cannot imagine the students we have now keeping up with today' pace. They need to be taught the necessary skills and need to develop an hone the skills learned to make that successful members of society.

    I am in total agreement that collaboration is a key to our students success. Our students will be working in groups for many years to come and if they cannot do that then they will not be very successful. I strive my best to get my students to work on the skills that i have taught them. In my construction class, i teach my students about framing a wall and finishing the wall off with sheetrock. I have many students wo love the projects and some that find it necessary to not complete the project as assigned. I had a students parent contact me and thank me for having my student work in a group and complete this project. This particular student fixed a hole in there bathroom wall because of the skills i taught my student. Not only does it feel good to get that kind of feedback but it lets me know that as a teacher i am doing my job. I strive everyday to get my students to develop there skills. Teaching technology, i know what skills they are going to need to be successful. I have only been teaching three years and i realize now that if you do not put the time and effort in then you will not be successful.