NJEA Convention 2008 to Feature 21st Century Learning Strands

If you’re like me, you may have even been overwhelmed by the hundreds of seminar titles found in the Annual NJEA Convention Program each year.

The 2008 gathering will still feature many varied professional development opportunities, but now those workshops will be organized so that attendees can choose a strand of seminars most appropriate for their job title.

“We wanted to help our members develop an aligned and coherent learning focus for their Convention experience,” explains NJEA President Joyce Powell.

For the first time, NJEA has identified relevant learning strands to provide the framework for the Convention program. The framework for 2008 is designed to help educators prepare students to meet the demands of the 21st century. All sessions will be assigned to one or more of these learning strands, which are:

Core Subjects – In accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act, core subjects are identified as English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics, government, economics, arts, history and geography. These presentations will be designed to increase practitioners’ knowledge in core subjects or pedagogical approaches specifically targeted to a core subject area.

Global Awareness — The ever-changing and fast-paced issues of a global economy present challenges for teachers and students alike. Students must be encouraged to develop knowledge and understanding of financial, economic, business, civic, and health and wellness issues. Workshops in this strand will increase participants’ knowledge in these areas, and provoke discussion of the impact of these issues on students, educators, and school curricula.

Learning and Thinking Skills — As much as students need to learn academic content, they also need to know how to continue learning—and make effective and innovative use of what they know—throughout their lives. In this strand, seminars will address critical thinking and problem-solving skills, oral and written communication skills, creativity and innovation skills, collaboration skills, and the ability to engage in analysis of information.

Life Skills — In addition to traditional learning skills, students must also develop leadership abilities, understand ethical behavior and be able to adapt. They should also be encouraged to learn personal productivity, personal responsibility, people skills, self-direction and social responsibility. Teaching these skills is no easy task, so this strand will provide educators with the strategies they need to shape young lives.

Information/Communications Technology — Information and Communications Technology (ICT) literacy is the ability to use technology so they know how to learn, think critically, solve problems, use information, communicate, innovate and collaborate. These presentations will illustrate active learning strategies that will promote the development of such skills.

21st Century Assessments — Educators must use authentic assessments to gather relevant data on student mastery to inform future instruction. Such assessments feature modern technologies and both standardized tests and teacher-prepared classroom assessments. Find out if your assessment methods are up to date and ultimately work to improve student achievement.

These strands have been adapted from “A State Leaders’ Action Guide to 21st Century Skills: A New Vision for Education,” produced by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills in April 2007. New Jersey is expected to join the Partnership, known as P21, in the coming months. To learn more about P21, visit www.21stcenturyskills.org and look for an article in next month’s Review.

The theme for Convention 2008 is “NJEA: The Beacon for Public Education.” The event will be held Nov. 6–7 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Check out upcoming issues of the NJEA Review and NJEA Reporter as well as the Convention web site for more details about the 2008 NJEA Convention.

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