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Course Title:
The 21st Century Learner: Essential Skills for Success

Audience:
K-12 educators

Overview:
The 21st century brings new expectations and challenges for today's learner. Technological advancements and global competition require the education community to reexamine and redefine what it considers essential skills for success. These essential skills create a learning environment that is relevant and adaptive for every learner. They include topics such as global awareness, creative and critical thinking, collaboration, leadership and ethics, among others.

This six week course is designed to introduce educators to the new skills and literacies for 21st century learning. Participants will define and examine these skills. They will discuss ways to assess these skills and investigate examples of best practices. Participants will be introduced to new technologies which help facilitate the mastery of these skills. As a final project the participants will create a plan to integrate 21st century skills into one of the content areas.

Goals:
The participants will
1. Discuss the importance of 21st century skills in preparing students for life in the global economy.
2. Define the key elements of 21st Century learning.
3. Assess to what extent they are already incorporating 21st century skills in their own schools or classrooms.
4. Integrate the key elements of 21st Century learning in the core subject areas

  • Learning and Thinking Skills
  • Life Skills
  • 21st Century Content
  • Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Literacy and 21st Century Tools

5. Analyze and compare various sample assessments that will measure student success for the key elements.
6. Examine best practices of schools which are incorporating 21st Century Skills and discuss ways to implement these practices in their classrooms or schools.
7. Create a plan for integrating one or more 21st Century skills into the established curriculum or learning plan.



Part III: Session Outline

Session 1: What are 21st Century Skills?
This session will explore the concepts and ideas connected to 21st Century Skills, their impact on the learning environment, and how life skills have been redesigned for new learning environments. In this session you will read and discuss several articles describing the need for schools to integrate 21st century skills into the established curriculum. You will compare various frameworks for 21st century skills and create a definition of what you think 21st century skills should include. You will also assess the extent to which you are already incorporating 21st century skills in your school or classroom.

Session 2: Learning and Thinking Skills
In this session you will read about the learning and thinking skills that are essential for the success of students in the 21st century. You will explore resources related to the different aspect of these skills including critical thinking and problem-solving skills, communication skills, creativity and innovation skills, collaboration skills,and contextural learning skills. By the end of this session you will have decided on a topic for your lesson and will begin thinking about strategies for intergrating learning skills in your plan.


Session 3: 21st Century Content
This session will explore 21st century content including global awareness; financial, economic, entrepreneurial, and business literacy; civic literacy; and health and wellness awareness. In this session you will read about 21st century content and examine best practices for integrating 21st century content. You will discuss these best practices and your ideas for integrating 21st century content. You will also develop content for sections 3 and 4 of your lesson plan and submit the completed sections to your instructor for feedback

Session 4: Information and Media Literacy, ICT Literacy, and 21st Century Tools
With new technologies come new challenges. This session will introduce you to the types of tools that are available to you and present you with examples of how these tools are being used effectively in classrooms around the world. You will use Information and Communications Technology Literacy Maps to develop learning goals for your lesson plan.

Session 5: Assessing 21st Century Skills

Session 6: Lesson/Project Evaluation and collaboration by the group



Part IV: Session Content



Session 1: What are 21st Century Skills?


Session Overview:
Many educational curricula today are focused on core competencies which are measured through standardized test such as the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA). For our students to be successful citizens in the 21st century, however, we need to expand this focus. Technology has been an impetus for this change. The new skill sets required for success in this changing digital world, reflect the strategies needed to analyze and evaluate information, to collaborate and communicate, and to compete in a global economy.

This session will explore the concepts and ideas connected to 21st Century Skills, their impact on the learning environment, and how the new digital literacies may enrich our classroom practice. In this session you will read and discuss several articles describing the need for schools to integrate 21st century skills into the established curriculum. You will compare various frameworks for 21st century skills and create a definition of what you think 21st century skills should include. You will also assess the extent to which you are already incorporating 21st century skills in your school or classroom.

Session Goals: Participants will be able to:

  • discuss the importance of 21st century skills in preparing students for life in the global economy.
  • define the key elements of 21st Century learning.
  • assess to what extent they are already incorporating 21st century skills in their own schools or classrooms.

Readings:

  • How to Bring Our Schools Out of the 20th Century- Time magazine article highlighting the need for educational reform. (Skip the ad at the beginning)
  • Framework for 21st Century Learning- Published by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Explore the links describing the key elements of the framework.
  • The enGauge 21st Century Skills- Published by NCREL (North Central Regional Education Laboratory) and the Metri Group.
  • 21st Century Student- Published by the Pennsylvania Department of Education


Activities:
Future Problem Solvers Program: Explore the topics listed for the Future Problem Solvers competition. Pennsylvania has an active FPS community participating throughout the Commonwealth. Read some of the questions and issues raised with students. How might this open ended model be used in your classroom? 21st Century Learning, Life Skills redefined are an integral part of a problem solving/critical thinking experience.
Future Problem Solving Program: Future Problem Solvers Fron the menu bar on the left hand, click on the Topics link to view the problem solving scenarios and themes.

Discussion:
Share some questioning techniques that spark student curiosity and creativity. How can open ended questions be linked to assessment anchors and eligible content or are they competing for valuable learning time?


Session 2: Learning and Thinking Skills

Session Overview:
According to the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, “As much as students need to learn about academic content, they also need to know how to keep learning.” One of the key elements of 21st century skills is “learning and thinking skills.”

In this session you will read about the learning and thinking skills that are essential for the success of students in the 21st century. You will explore resources related to the different aspect of these skills including critical thinking and problem-solving skills, communication skills, creativity and innovation skills, collaboration skills,and contextural learning skills. By the end of this session you will have decided on a topic for your lesson and will begin thinking about strategies for intergrating learning skills in your plan.

Goals:
The participant will:

  • integrate learning skills in the content area
  • examine best practices of schools which are incorporating 21st Century Learning Skills and discuss ways to implement these practices in their classrooms or schools.


Required Readings:

  • Learning and Thinking Skills- from the Partnership for 21st Century Learning


Activities:

1. After becoming familiar with the various aspects of learning skills, choose a skill area that you think you would like to incorporate in your lesson and read more about strategies for teaching that aspect:

  • Critical Thinking:
o 35 Dimensions of Critical thought- Published by the Critical Thinking Community. Includes links to remodeled lesson at various grade levels.
o The Art of Redesigning Instruction- also published by the Critical Thinking Community- a comprehensive article on moving from "lower order, fragmented, and superficial" learning to "higher order, organized, and deep knowledge." A bit long, but good.
o Critical Evaluation Toolkit- Published by Griffith University. Includes tips for teaching teamwork, assessment, and handouts
*
  • Problem Solving:
o Teaching Problem Solving- From the Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED)- This site contains short video clips that show students using the different types of problem solving techniques. The source is great, with lots of examples.
o Big Six
o Computer Skills for Information Problem Solving- Eric Article...information skills for problem solving
o Problem Solving Toolkit- Published by Griffith University. Includes tips for teaching teamwork, assessment, and handouts
*
  • Communication Skills:
o Effective Communication- From The enGauge Framework, explore each link. The information is clear and concise.
*
  • Creativity and Innovation Skills:
o Back to Basics: Learning to be Creative- Keynote address at the National Governers Association by Sir Ken Robinson, PhD., international expert on creativity, innovation and education. Scroll down to August 7th, find the presentation and choose either the audio or video link (Windows Media Player). This presentation is about 45 minutes long, but it's great stuff. He presents his arguments for the need for creativity education.
o Creativity Toolkit- Published by Griffith University. Includes tips for teaching teamwork, assessment, and handouts
*
  • Collaboration Skills:
o Enabling Student Collaboration for Learning- Published by Georgia State University- Simple Q&A format.
o Teamwork Toolkit- Published by Griffith University. Includes tips for teaching teamwork, assessment, and handouts
*
  • Contextural Learning Skills:
  • Contextual Learning- Published by the National Council of State Legislatures- Presents an overview with some examples
*

2. Think about the topic that you would like to focus on for your final project. Download and save the Lesson Plan template.

Complete sections one and two of the template; the topic and standards and save your changes. You may want to browse the other sections of the template to become familiar with the requirements of the project.

Discussion:

Post a discussion thread which includes your initial idea for your lesson plan. Discuss the ways that you feel you could integrate learning skills into your lesson. 21st Century Learning is about making content and knowledge connections. Identify some of the key connections you hope to make in your lesson. Which aspect of learning skills will you focus on and how will you accomplish this?

Please respond to the postings of at least two of your peers.

Optional Readings/Activities:

Session 3: 21st Century Content

Overview
According to Thomas L. Friedman the assumptions and practices on which our systems are based need to be reexamined. In his book, The World is Flat (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005) Friedman discusses how technology and globalization are impacting the United States economy in the 21st century. The core content that was taught in the 20th century is not enough to secure our students’ futures. Our students need to be taught 21st century content in order to compete in this flattening global market.

This session will explore 21st century content including global awareness; financial, economic, entrepreneurial, and business literacy; civic literacy; and health and wellness awareness. In this session you will read about 21st century content and examine best practices for integrating 21st century content. You will discuss these best practices and your ideas for integrating 21st century content. You will also develop content for sections 3 and 4 of your lesson plan and submit the completed sections to your instructor for feedback.

Goals:
The participants will:

  • Integrate 21st century content in the core subject areas using the Lesson Plan template
  • Discuss best practices for integrating 21st century content


Readings:

  • 21st Century Content- Partnership for 21st Century Skills framework resource page. Explore the links for all aspects of 21st Century content to become familiar with the types of skills addressed.


Activities:
1. Review two or more of the following resources for examples of best practices in each area of 21st century content:

  • Global Nomads Group- A nonprofit organization committed to "fostering dialogue and understanding among the world's youth." Visit the media library to launch and view a short video about the organization.
  • Financial Literacy- The Utah State Office of education has mandated that financial literacy be taught as part of the core curriculum. Check out the teacher resources and the student/parent resources.
  • The Urban Agenda- Civic Literacy Project- Pulished by Wayne State University. Read the Forward and Part I, the Executive Summary, which describes what the project is and how it's done.
  • PE Central: Best Practices- Health and Wellness Awareness. There are many examples here and they are ordered by the most votes received. Read at least two examples.


2. Think about how you would like to incorporate 21st Century Content in your lesson plan. Choose one area of 21st century content and further explore ways to integrate it in your lesson plan by investigating the relevant links below.

  • Global Awareness
o What Does Globalization Mean for Education?- Article by Anita McAnear from the February 2007 issue of Learning and Leading with technology.
o Think Global- Article by Dan Knezek published in Scholastic Administr@tor Magazine.
o A Day in the life of a Global Connected Educator- A blog post by Julie Lindsay, an educational technology specialist at International School Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • Financial, Economic, Entrepreneurial, and Business Literacy
o Practical Money Skills- Excellent collection of lessons, pre k-12, published by Visa.
o Schools and Communities Tip Sheet - Teaching Children Financial Literacy- Publisher by National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
o Financial Literacy in Our Schools- 2002 article published by the Credit Union National Association. Discusses the necessity of teaching financial literacy and proposes a plan of action.
o Financial Literacy Begins at School- Published by Education World. This site has some wonderful interactive resources for financial literacy.
  • Civic Literacy
o PA Standards for Civics and Government
o Civics Online- Includes resources for teachers
o People and Politics: A Civic Literacy Curriculum- by Ashley Hager. Contains lesson plans on various topics.
o Project Vote Smart- Provides background information about political candidates for elections based on 9 digit zip codes. Find out who your elected officials are, and where they stand on the issues.
  • Health and Wellness Awareness
o Local Wellness Policies: They're the Law!- by Vond Fekete. Explains law concerning wellness program in PA schools.
o Local Wellness Policy Resources- Developed by Pennsylvania Department of Education.
o MyPyramid- 2005 updated version of the food pyramid. Check out the links for professionals. For fun... create your own food pyramid.


3. Complete sections 3 and 4 of the Lesson Plan template (21st century skills and key learning goals.) Use the framework from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills as a guideline. When you have completed these sections you will need to submit you plan to the instructor for feedback.

Discussion:
As you examined best practices for integrating 21st century content, which activity did you feel best encompassed 21st century content and why? How will you use these best practices as a model for your lesson?

Please respond to the postings of at least two of your peers.

Optional Reading:

  • "To Promote the General Welfare"- Optional Reading. A discussion guide for developing neighborhood social contracts for the city of Philadelphia. This project could be adapted for schools. An interesting breakdown and re-interpretation of the preamble of the constitution.
  • Global School Net- This website is a bit busy, but it contains links to many different types of resources and project related to global awareness
  • Friedman, Thomas L. The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006.
  • Raising Global Awareness- Apple Learning Interchange



Session 4: Information and Media Literacy, ICT Literacy, and 21st Century Tools

Overview:
Technology is changing the way children learn. As technology evolves, so must the learning activities we provide for our students. Extending beyond information retrieval, Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, podcasts, and wikis are making it possible to for anyone to contribute and collaborate without the limitations of time, distance, or money. Our students are no longer just reading the Web, they are creating it.

With these new technologies come new challenges. This session will introduce you to the types of tools that are available to you and present you with examples of how these tools are being used effectively in classrooms around the world. You will use Information and Communications Technology Literacy Maps to develop learning goals for your lesson plan.

Goals:
The participants will:

  • Use ICT Literacy maps to develop goals for their lesson plans
  • Investigate 21st century tools and how they are being used in classrooms
  • Discuss the challenges that are faced when using 21st Century tools as they pertain to Information and Media Literacy.


Readings:

  • Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Literacy - From the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
  • Medialit Powerpoint- Published by the center for Media Literacy. The presentation provides a framework for media literacy.
  • Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning- Published by the American Association of School Librarians and the Association for Educational and Communications Technology. Identifies Information literacy standards and perofmance indicators.
  • Read about these examples of best practices using 21st century tools:
o The Future Wave of School Volunteerism: Be the Textbook- An interesting blog post by Vicki Davis concerning virtual volunteering.
o A New Kind of Rhyme- Blog posting from the blog, “Learning and Laptops”. The post, written by a ninth grade student, discusses how her class was using 21st century technology to learn about poetry. Then check out the poetry podcasts from the same class.
  • Web 2.0 Tools for Educators Published by IMSA (Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy) provides a brief overview of many types of web 2.0 tools with links to some of the big names out there. Does not include podcasting


Activities:

1. Watch this short video The Machine is Us/ing Us about how changes in technology are changing the way we create and use information.
2. Inclusion- Watch this powerful 5 minute QuickTime video about how 21st century tools can be used in the classroom, specifically, Skype.
3. Learning 2.0: The Things- "23 Things (or small exercises) that you can do on the web to explore and expand your knowledge of the Internet and Web 2.0." Originally published by Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County for staff development. (The staff could receive a free Mp3 player or laptop as an incentive for completing all 23.) Complete the activities for one specific type of 21st century tool. (They are grouped by week.) Some of these activities are specific to the library staff, but most of the activities can be complete by anyone. Most of the items have podcasts embedded at the beginning of the post that server as an introduction.
4. Browse the ICT Literacy Maps, From the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Use these to help you complete sections 6 (21st Century tools) and 7 (Activities) of the lesson plan template.


Discussion:
After becoming familiar with the concepts related to ICT, and Information and Media Literacy, what types of challenges or obstacles can you foresee with using these new Web 2.0 technologies in the k12 classroom? How will you address these challenges in your lesson?

Please respond to the postings of at least two of your peers.

Optional Reading:
Digital Immigrant Remedial Vocabulary- Explanation of tech terms for novices.
21st Century Learning Project- Wiki for the Alamaba Best Practices Center
Don't Buy It!- Media Literacy--this is a wonderful and fun exploration of commercials and the presentation of information
School is Out for Web 2.0- Also by IMSA, describes the roles of Web 2.0 tools in education. Must register (free) to view this article.



Session 5: Assessing 21st Century Skills


Overview:

Goals:

Readings:

Activities:
  • Online MILE Guide Assessment- This online assessment will help you gauge the extent to which you are already integrating 21st century skills. Right click on the link and open it in a new window so that you can properly display your results.

Discussion:
Post a discussion thread which compares the various frameworks presented in the readings. Which framework do you think best prepares the learner for success in the 21st century? Are there elements of the various frameworks which could be combined? Support your position with examples from the readings.
Think about the extent to which you are already integrating 21st century skills in your school or classroom. Are you satisfied with the level of integration? What steps can you take to expand the integration of 21st century skills?
Please respond to the postings of at least two of your peers.
Optional Reading/Activites:
Online Learning and Virtual Schools Provide Essential New Skills for 21st Century Jobs, Says Report
Pathways to Performance- From the PA Dept of Education- Explains the PDE vision for technology and education in Pennsylvania.
Did You Know- by Karl Fisch, this presentation was developed as part of a faculty meeting. Turn on your speakers. The first few slides relate specifically to Arapahoe School district, but keep watching. There are now three presentations in the "Fischbowl Trilogy" but this one is the most powerful.



Session 6: Sharing of projects/plans for peer review
Issues and controversies related to Web2.0 in the classroom
Security and safety type issues…