21st Century Learning

What is 21st Century Learning? It’s bold. It breaks the mold and it is learning that is flexible, creative, rigorous and complex. The 21st century was ushered in by a dramatic technological revolution. This revolution is having a dramatic impact on teaching and learning. One of our many challenges as educational leaders is “How do we make the paradigm shift to 21st Century education”.

Our kindergartners will be retiring in the year 2069. We do not know what the world will look like in five years, much less 60 years, AND we are charged with preparing our students for that world.images

21st Century curriculum is interdisciplinary, integrated, project-based, standards based and more. The author, Tony Wagner, sums it up in his book, The Global Achievement Gap, by summarizing seven survival skills our students will need to succeed:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Creativity and Imagination

Students must be able to research, analyze, synthesize, critique, evaluate and create new knowledge. There is no “one size fits all” blueprint. Each school must be designed with the students and the goals of the school and community in mind. There should also be full access to technology. Various labs and learning centers should be set up around the campus. The curriculum is not text book driven. Text books, if available, are just another resource. Assessment moves from regurgitation of memorized facts to demonstration of understanding through application in a variety of contexts. Real-world audiences are an important part of the assessment process, as is self-assessment.

How is your school adapting to 21st Century Teaching and Learning? Please let me know.

Making Grades Relevant.

Please review Rick Wormeli’s video above. I am not suggesting that all schools immediately change over to a standards based “one size fits all” method of assessment. This is an impossible task. Ken O’Connor suggests that there are four conditions of quality for grades that must be met for appropriate student assessment.

Make Grades Accurate

  • Student behaviors and attendance MUST be separated from attendance, so that grades are a pure measure of academic achievement.
  • Do not penalize students for late work.
  • Eliminate the need for extra credit work. They have nothing to do with demonstration of standards achievement.
  • Group scores have no place for individual mastery.
  • Find an alternative to ZEROS!

Make Grades Meaningful

  • Base grades on Standards not Assessments.
  • Each standard grade could have an area for comments on student strengths, areas of improvement and general observations.

Make Grades Consistent

  • Teachers must develop clearly understood performance standards.
  • Eliminate the percentage system. We can’t describe or measure what the difference is between 87 and 88%!
  • The primary goal for establishing achievement levels is to gauge whether students are proficient or not.ideas together

Make Grades Supportive of Learning

  • Students MUST understand that the focus in the classroom is on LEARNING not accumulating points.
  • Use “no mark-Comment Only” with formative assessments. This means that homework, quizzes and daily work have no place in grades.
  • Ignore failings and emphasize successes. If a student was struggling in December and is proficient in January, December becomes irrelevant.
  • Involve students in assessments. Allow opportunities for self and peer assessments. Consider student-led conferencing.

The above conditions make it possible for students, parents and teachers to develop more positive attitudes about learning and school.

I would love to hear your comments!