Thoughts on 21st Century Learning

Filed Under (Uncategorized, Work) by Laura Smith on 16-08-2010

I include 21st Century Skills in my curriculum outline.  So why has it been so hard for me to put into words exactly what that means?

I recently read two excellent posts by David Warlick and Wes Fryer.  Thank you! You finally helped me articulate exactly what I have been trying to say when explaining myself to parents, students, colleagues, and administrators.

First, from David:

21st Century learning “is an experience that is responsive. Learners are not simply passive vessels to be filled.  They are players within a game that plays back.  It is inquiry fueled. It provokes conversations that factor in the learner’s identity and measures his standing. It inspires the personal investment of time and skill.  ..and it is guided by safely made mistakes.”

So, to paraphrase, 21CL is not just teaching at students. It’s letting the students learn for themselves, with your guidance. Which is how we all need to learn eventually anyway! No one is going to be standing over you for your whole life, saying, “Here, Johnny- you are going to need to know how to change the oil in your car. Now you sit there and watch as I do it. Then I will let you help me, then you should be able to do it on your own. Oh, and when you are done, I will give you a Scan-Tron test to see if you remember all the steps.”

After watching a slideshare presentation by Wes Fryer, I like how he distills three main points for ways to engage learners:

1. Personal Learning.  Learning should be personalized to each student.  Yes, we all need to learn our times tables, but there are so many ways to do so!  Why can’t each student demonstrate his or her learning in their own way?

2. Sharing Student Work.  Don’t we all thrive on responses from others to our work?  I know that if I take a beautiful photograph, or find a funny joke, I love to share it with others.  Kids want that too!

3. Digital Storytelling.  Kids have stories, thoughts, dreams, that they are dying to share.  Let them use technology to express themselves!

I feel a little more clear about my goals of transforming my teaching to include 21st Century skills.  Now, back to planning for another exciting school year!


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