The topic of 21st Century Learning has dominated the discussions at recent meetings of school administrators in our school district. The graphic below was developed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and is referred to as the “Framework for 21st Century Learning”. This particular model is often the one depicted in our school district’s deliberations on this all-important topic.
When you look closely at the graphic, you can easily see the skills, knowledge and expertise that this organization believes that our students must master in order to succeed in work and life. It represents a blend of content knowledge (what we want our learners to learn), specific skills, expertise, and literacies (which go beyond reading and writing).
The graphic gives rightful prominence to core subjects (the green arc) including language, reading (language arts), arts, mathematics, economics, science, and social studies. Building on this solid foundation will enhance 21st century skills which include critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. These essential skills must be taught in the context of our core curriculum (often referred to as the three R’s but delineated above).
When we build on this foundation and combine the entire framework with the necessary support systems which include standards, assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development and learning environments, our students will become more engaged in the learning process and graduate better prepared to thrive in today’s global economy.
It is no secret that we live in a technology and media-driven environment marked by unprecedented access to an abundance of information, rapid changes in technology tools and the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on a scale not witnessed before. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills maintains, and I quite agree, that our learners must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills such as information literacy, media literacy, and ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) literacy.
One small, but important, tool in helping us along the road to 21st century learning is the ubiquitous iPad. Our teachers at École élémentaire Beachy Cove Elementary School are thrilled with the prospects and possibilities presented by iPad technology. We already have fourteen iPads and we are happily incorporating informational, media, and ICT literacies in our lessons using these tools. Of course, we are limited by the number of iPads to which we have access which is why we are engaging in our fundraising project (Sweat-a-thon). Our immediate goal is to provide an iPad to every classroom in our school; our goals will get a little loftier once we check off that one as being completed.
We firmly believe that iPads represent one tool that will help us teach creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration. We want our students to stand shoulder-to-shoulder (or even above) with their peers from around the globe in terms of their life and career skills, learning and innovation skills, information, media, and technology skills, as well as in our core subjects.
As always please send me an e-mail if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your kind support.