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Student-Centered Learning: Changing Teaching

Teachers come to the classroom with life experiences, their experience as a student, and what they learned about being a teacher. Teachers go into teaching to make a difference. Most of their instruction was teacher-centric. They only know what they know and what their mentor or master teacher presents to them.

Teachers have similar Characteristics of Adult Learners. Teachers come with their own beliefs and opinions, are intrinsically motivated, and just like their students have individual differences. Teachers have so much on their plate. If you add another professional development that is not relevant for them, they tune out, grade papers, and may even leave.

TeachersThe most effective approach is to connect with the teachers and what they teach in their classroom. Teachers learn best in the same ways that most students learn best: actively, drawing from prior knowledge, and in a comfortable environment. [source] This is where I see the power of coaching and working with each teacher or a small group of teachers that teach the same units. Let’s say you were asked to coach grade level teams of teachers to create project-based learning activities and integrate technology.

First Meeting

  • Set up collaborative planning time for the teachers. Work with administration to get subs for the first 1/2 day meeting.

  • Do an assessment to determine how teachers teach and learn currently, topics they would like to expand into a project, and the resources available for projects.
  • Set up a website with links to examples, projects, and resources about PBL and send them the link.
  • Ask a teacher leader or administrator to do an assessment of the teachers determining the stage of concern or how each teacher handles change. <Changing Teaching and Learning: CBAM>
  • When you meet during the first meeting, ask teachers to share “how they teach now” and an example of a lesson.
  • Review the pacing guide/curriculum/standards to choose a topic/lesson to design a project.
  • Share some examples of projects around that topic.
  • Ask them how or what they would like to do to change the lesson. Give them time to work together and share ideas.

If this is the first time they have designed project-based learning activities, they need time to learn. This may even be too much to ask of the teachers, but finding time is always a challenge.

[Photo from Playshop at Mid-Pacific Institute - teacher teams collaborating]

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What's your Normal?

I shared a poster this morning on Facebook about being normal.

Some questions arose:

Normal

  • what does normal mean to different people?

  • If everyone were the same, would they have the same normal?
  • How do you teach people who have different normals?

Think about your normal, how you were raised, and what seems just “normal” to you. Your normal may be to be quiet, be safe and secure, not take any chances, and enjoy each day. You may like to “smell the roses” and meditate. You’re just happy to wake up each day.

Another person’s normal may be to get up early and take on the world. Their mantra is “to make a difference” every day. To challenge everything and take risks. They rarely take time to sit. Every minute needs to be scheduled.

Is one of these normals you? Is one wrong and the other just perfect?

To personalize learning for each student, we not only need to understand their learning style but their normal. The one thing that is difficult to not do is judge someone’s normal.

  • Can we teach that?

  • Can we teach how to accept people as they are?
  • Can we teach how to be tolerant of people’s differences?

A great addition to our curriculum would be to teach empathy and compassion. Figure out your normal and understand other people’s normal. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

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Innovation Centers for Real-World Learning

I’ve been thinking about the promise of Innovation Centers. These are Community Learning Centers that incorporate K-12 schools, the public library, and a local university and/or community college where learning happens 24/7 with learners of all ages. These centers could be a combination of all of these places and include businesses and non-profits in the area. In some cases, community colleges and senior centers might be involved. In other cases, a preschool might be included in a project. These can also be blended versions where the place is one or all of these sites plus a virtual place to collaborate and learn. I’m going to expand on the virtual place more later.

The idea of an Innovation Center in different parts of the country means that each community can investigate local issues on a global scale. Each Center will include the latest technology and enough bandwidth to handle multiple devices per person. Each Center will be designed by the community to reflect their community. The center is open to all learners but not like a regular school.

One community might address urban gardening and how to feed more people in less space. Another community might address strategies for recycling and reducing trash. All findings will be shared among all Innovation Centers and collaboration will be encouraged.

The goal could be to push the envelope: where learning focuses on real-world projects, problems, and challenges on a global scale. Just imagine identifying a local problem in your area in the US and connect with a school in Africa or Nepal with the same problem. Common problems could be:

  • Lack of clean water

  • Pollution in your area
  • Money managing skills
  • Culture and Community
  • Jobs or Entrpreneurship

Everything will be student-centered and inquiry-based. Teacher roles change. They are co-learners and co-designers with their students and are advisors for a team of learners. As advisors they are with the same learners for several years. Actually the learners are driving the design of the projects and the community. The community is a viable entity that happens anywhere and everywhere. The culture of that community transcends the design of the projects.

Learning will be personalized by personal learner profiles with support from advisors. Each learner and advisor will be encouraged to take risks, question, and use critical-thinking skills to address local problems as collaborative projects. Personal learning goals will meet Common Core Standards and address curriculum requirements of their learning plan. Individuals and teams will meet learning goals as part of each project or re-evaluate the goals as they monitor their progress towards the goal. Each learner will collect evidence of learning in an ePortfolio and share via social media, websites, mobile devices, etc. Or the evidence will be a product, a showcase, an event. This all depends on the designers of the projects — the learners. We may even want to call them something different than learners.

I started thinking about this many years ago and then again recently when I added my idea to the Grand Challenge. If you like this idea, vote here. If you have more ideas for this challenge, please add your comment there and/or here.

I know there are great ideas and innovations out there. It’s all about finding out about them so we can share and learn together.

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Prepare Students for the Real-World

“The average age of community college students in Texas is 27 and many have Bachelor’s degrees. Some have Master’s degrees,” quoted Richard Moore, Executive Director of the Texas Community College Teacher Association. There are barriers for older students, because these students attend classes with everyone else who may be much younger and have goals to attend a four year college.

JoAnn Jacobs writes in her article Reinventing higher ed in California in the Community College Spotlight “Currently, more than 70 percent of the state’s college students enroll in underfunded community colleges. Most attend part-time, leading to high attrition rates. Only 18 percent of community college students earn an associate degree. By contrast, 45 percent of California State University students and 90 percent of University of California students complete a bachelor’s degree. Instead of increasing access, Cal State campuses are cutting enrollment to cope with budget cuts, which have forced faculty layoffs and reduced course offerings.”

I don’t think this is a unique situation for California or Texas. JoAnn added, “…In Florida, for example, the experiment is about “training people for real jobs,” says Miami Dade Community College President Eduardo J. Padron, who cited nursing and teaching programs.”

Richard shared with me that there is a Student Success Movement in Texas with several initiatives that fund innovation. The issue which seems universal is that community colleges are separated by community college districts. In Texas, there are 50 districts. Each is a different terrain where they often have an impact on each other. This can affect how community colleges are funded. The terrains are…

  • Policy

  • Geography

    — State by State

    – Region by Region

  • Discipline

    — Academic vs Vocational

    — Within each discipline

I believe the community colleges will be impacted more with the increase in fees and limits on attendance at four year universities. It all comes down to money. Times have changed. I went to a community college before I went to a four year college. It was a great way to transition and get to know what I really wanted to do with my life. Some people are lucky that they know early what they want to do and that career is also one that pays enough for them. I wish I could make it that anyone could go to the school or university they want to to learn anything they want. They can take classes online. There are open source courses available, but until accreditation changes, courses are universally accepted from different colleges, and life and work experience counts, this is going to be a difficult road for many.

I also believe that if…

  • community colleges are able to change the accreditation process, more adults could take advantage of an amazing source of learning.

  • learners can challenge courses where they have life and work experience, this could be a way to move more people to real jobs and provide a revenue source to community colleges. This could also be a source of revenue for four year colleges and maybe even high schools.
  • we pull together as a nation, we need to look at the bigger picture: people need jobs. We need to rethink four year colleges and who can afford liberal arts studies and who has the skills for specific types of real-world jobs. We provide a learning guide with each student that enters college.
  • we start early in middle school to provide a personal learning plan for each student and a personal learning coach to monitor their progress, they won’t get lost in the system or drop out early.
  • we provide a mentor or advisor to each high school student to help them identify their strengths and weaknesses, learning styles, and guide them to choose an appropriate learning path.
  • we offer multiple learning opportunities including online courses along with a learning coach, learners will not feel lost in a system they feel doesn’t care about them.
  • we rethink the Community College system as a stepping stone to the real-world and fund them appropriately, we help our people get back to work.

Learners are all ages now. Everyone is reinventing themselves. We need to rethink our entire educational system.

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BYOL + PLC = CoP

BYOL means Bring Your Own Laptop. I know I know – acronyms – Why? I’m trying to make a point here. If you have enough resources for each child (BYOL), then you can grow professional learning communities (PLC) with all learners. When you have these communities sprouting up around your district, you build communities of practice (CoP).

Forest Hills Local Schools in Cincinatti, OH launched their laptop program in January 2011. They focused on all 7th grade students who would bring their own computers to school or use the school’s laptops. They decided to start with a pilot program to gather data and learn what works and what didn’t work before they expanded to more grade levels across the district.

Cary HarrodI’ve known Cary Harrod (caryharrod@foresthills.edu), the Instructional Technology Specialist, for many years and knew how persistent she was to get a program like this off the ground. I remember her saying to me several years ago, “it’s all about the kids” and “how do we make change when there aren’t enough resources?”

So after I heard that Forest Hills piloted a BYOL project, I interviewed Cary last week. She shared with me how the district proposed a 1:1, where the district would purchase laptops for all students but that it was cost prohibitive for a district of 7,800 students with 6 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 2 high schools. Two years later (April 2010), they wanted the tech team to come up with something different and we decided to go BYOL. The school board and administration supported it and the technology leads researched existing 1:1 programs. They wanted to focus on digital learning that supports student-centered learning pedagogy.
@1st Centurizing Learning

A critical piece was designing a professional development plan that incorporated 21st century learning. They agreed on the importance of personal learning as the first step towards understanding the shifts occurring in education. They wanted to create a “hothouse” where great ideas begin, new methods of learning are shared and communities are rooted.

The structure included:

  • cultivating a professional learning community (Ning, Twitter, Diigo, Skype, f2f meetings)

  • providing for sustained practice and anytime learning (Ning, Twitter, Diigo, Skype)
  • modeling Inquiry Learning
  • providing coaching
  • modeling effective collaboration
  • developing Theoretical & Practical Understanding.

The district, school board, and the 7th grade administrator, Natasha Adams, developed a partnership with teachers, students, and parents to bring everyone on board. Only a small percentage were resistant. In November 2010, the district has a showcase of projects where teachers set up booths and invited parents. They also set up

CAMPL

Conversations
About
My
Personal
Learning

along with conference style tool workshops after school and on Saturdays. For all families that were included in the BYOL program, there was a mandatory session on the Nuts and Bolts of laptop maintenance and safety. Over 1,000 people attended all of the sessions.

While the professional development began with conversations about the tools, they quickly
began talking about what this will look like in the classroom.

The principal required all teachers to develop their PLN (Personal Learning Network) and read and discussed Tribes by Seth Godin. 40 teachers went through the Partnership for Powerful Learning. Forest Hills TeachersAfter spending a month on how to articulate the move from 20th century to 21st century learning, the teachers brainstormed a list of characteristics of a classroom with good teaching and good learning. They then used the characteristics to transform a 20th century lesson and give it a 21st century bent.

The pilot started with 7th grade with 559 students, 353 brought in a device. There were already 160 laptops available to lend and the rest of the parents provided their children laptops. Now that every 7th grader had a laptop, support at home, and the teachers were ready, they focused on lesson design.

Students used their devices in all subject areas and utilized the many tools available to access, manage and organize information; connect with other students and experts; and create multi-media projects.

Due to the success of the project, the program has expanded, allowing all eighth graders to bring in their own devices. Currently, over 580 students are bringing in their own device. Further expansion will occur in the 2012-2013 school year, when the program moves to grades 9-12 with a possible expansion to the elementary grades in subsequent years.

Links:
Link to BYOL
Nagel Middle School, Forest Hills Local Schools

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Schools and the Search for Wonder

It hit me this morning after reading Seth Godin’s post “Lousy tomatoes and the rare search for Wonder” that schools are like supermarkets. Seth writes that supermarkets stock “waxy, tasteless tomatoes from Chile, Mexico and Florida” mainly because it keeps the price cheap and the store profitable. Also someone just might need a tomato in the middle of the night in winter and any tomato might do. He also wrote…

“Over time, as institutions create habits and earn subscribers, they often switch, gradually making the move from magical (worth a trip, worth a conversation) to good (there when you need it). Most TV is just good. Magazines, too. When was the last time People magazine did something that made you sit up and say, “wow”? Of course, you could argue that they’re not in the wow business, and you might be right.”

Here’s where I see the problem with schools. Schools are there because students are required to go. They were designed to deliver information in a form that just doesn’t work today. Today’s students are used to getting what they want when they want it with “on demand” everything. How can we expect our students to accept a waxy tomato when they are used to salsa with a spoonful of guacamole?

Everything in our lives is changing because of supply and demand. Schools will change because students are leaving for other options or dropping out. Schools will change because we are not meeting the needs of our children. Even online schools need to restructure how they deliver their curriculum. Today’s Kindergarteners use technology. 3rd graders have cell phones. I can guarantee that more than 75% of elementary students text their friends. More families are switching from TV to the Internet or Netflix or other ways to watch what they want when they want to watch it. Less families are subscribing to newspapers and magazines. Information is there at their fingertips now. I have CNN, NY Times, and lots of my shows on my iPhone.

Google is restructuring YouTube Edu to have curriculum matched to standards on playlists. iTunes University is in your pocket. Mobile learning is going to level the playing field for all children. Each child will find what they want or need using different apps. Thousands of apps are being developed every day.

App Store

So where does the teacher fit in this new world? The teacher is the guide, the advisor, the co-learner in this world of wonder. They design the environment that lets students take risks and find what they need to meet their learning goals based on their personal learning plan. Who knows what school will look like in a few years? There may be a physical school or learning center where learning can happen anytime, anywhere. A teacher cannot compete with the “Wow” that our students have with games and apps that are new each day. Think of a place where students question everything and it is our job as teachers to encourage questions, provide opportunities to build things, fix things, experiment with new ideas, collaborate globally, and push students to explore outside of their comfort zone.

So the teacher’s role has to change. How about teachers as learning agents for the search of wonder?

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Building Community Schools to Save our Children

We are educators. All of us. If one child drops out of school early, the whole community suffers.

We need to create the conditions that value all children especially our at-risk children. In Oakland, I saw how devastating the dropout rate was long ago when I was writing Digital High School grants and mentioned my concern. Young black boys were dropping out before eighth grade and it’s worse now.

Today only 30% of African-American males are graduating from high school in Oakland. This is wrong. We spend more money on prisons than educating our children. This is more than wrong. We need to start early educating, mentoring, and building community to raise our children — all children. Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland, who was on the school board and understands the problem was on the panel of Class Action this morning (9/4/11) with Christopher Chatmon and Mitchell Kapor.

If children dropout and there are no jobs even for educated youth, what happens to these boys? Oakland Unified School District is taking action. They formed a task force called African-American Male Achievement with Chris Chatmon taking the lead. They are starting young with community schooling opening the schools and gyms with programs like Math and Science Academies. Mitchell Kapor from the Mitchell Kapor Foundation wrote…

“We will all lose if we persist in doing business as usual. Our state cannot continue to claim the mantle of innovation if we continue to ignore the human capital that exists in our communities. We cannot remain competitive in the global marketplace by investing more in filling up prison and jail cells – with disproportionately more poor people and people of color – than in creating an educated workforce.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/05/08/ED5L1JD5MR.DTL#ixzz1X0GJpsNx

Oakland Boy DrawingChris Chatmon said on Class Action this morning: “The school system was not set up to meet the needs of black and brown boys. The street culture is stronger than school culture. We need a process of engaging and motivating by taking them through a value education.” Jean Quan is coordinating schools and the community. One big thing is keeping the libraries open.

I love Oakland. I have worked with Oakland schools for years and saw the potential in every child. I am very excited that Oakland Unified School District has this task force and is working with the city and community leaders to make a difference in our children’s lives.

Here’s my take on it:
If we want to keep brown and black boys in schools and help each child reach their fullest potential, schools have to change. The schools still have top-down management issues. Doors are closed. Teachers are lecturing and teaching to the test. I walk through the halls and see kids not connecting and drifting off. They get bored and in trouble. Then it starts spiraling down. Like Chris mentioned: we need to make them co-designers of their learning so it is relevant to them. They not only need more role models, they need to find a purpose, a passion that gives them some hope that their lives will be worth something.

I see these kids. They are smart. But they are told they are not smart. We need to look at what “Smart” means. It is not how well they do on a test. We need to find different methods of assessing what they know and can do. I believe in these kids and am passionate about saving each one. I am only one person but there are more like me out there who want to help make a difference. I have seen the best teaching in Oakland and I work around the country, but teachers are caught in a bureaucratic system that keeps them from innovating. Unless there is a grant, there is no money to help build a new type of curriculum. Unless we “think out of the box”, we continue with the same prescriptive curriculum that does not engage our children.

Idea:

How about creating a K-12 Innovation community school in Oakland where all learning is centered around each child? Each child is part of a team similar to Finland.

Each child is with one teacher for K-3 and this community has parents, mentors, and community members part of the team for that child. Bring in a teacher education program from a local university and create teams Then another teacher can be assigned as advisor from grades 4-8 so there is consistency to monitor progress. Collect artifacts of learning and reflect via portfolios. Design new learning environments that foster creativity and inquiry. For 9-12 each teacher is an advisor for 20 students who guides them in the portfolio process and finds support in the community for internships, shadowing, interviews, building resumés and interviewing skills, and counseling on career and college readiness. Check out my post on Skills and Values Employers Want.

These are just a few ideas that can help all children and especially those at-risk.

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Skills and Values Employers Want

When you do a search for “What Employers Want” you do not see high test scores anywhere on any job descriptions. We are training our kids for the types of jobs that are not there anymore. If you look at the world now, everything is changing: business, government, banking, and education. We are in a transitional period with many of us kicking and screaming afraid to go where we have to go. The world is going to change if we like it or not.

I still hear “if it was good for me, it’s good for my kid.”

Kids Coming HomeThis is unbelievable! That kid is going to be living on that parent’s couch when they are in their 30’s because there will not be any jobs for them. Wait a minute! That’s happening now. Read this article “Is there a doctor in the house?

So what are the skills employers are looking for? Skills most sought after by employers according to Randall Hansen, Ph.D and Katherine Hansen, Ph.D are:

  • Communications Skills (listening, verbal, written)
  • Analytical/Research Skills
  • Computer/Technical Literacy
  • Flexibility/Adaptability/Managing Multiple Priorities
  • Interpersonal Abilities
  • Leadership/Management Skills
  • Multicultural Sensitivity/Awareness
  • Planning/Organizing
  • Problem-Solving/Reasoning/Creativity
  • Teamwork

 

No test scores here!

Kelly Services listed the same skills. Everywhere I looked the same skills.

Check out the 12 Hot buttons from Salary.com

    1. Results – they are less concerned with your past experience and responsibilities. What did you accomplish?
    2. Figures and numbers - did you increase revenue at your last job? did you underpromise and overdeliver even if you worked at a non-profit or volunteered?
    3. Awards and accolades – share if you have received any awards or been recognized for excellence.
    4. Blog or website – this shows you have good communication skills, but make sure your website looks professional.
    5. Staying Power – be careful of changing jobs that don’t last two years or less.
    6. Up-to-date skills and education – be on top of all the latest technology and innovations in your field.
    7. Ideas and initiative – Be ready to hit the ground running and solve problems without waiting for someone to tell you what to do.

Creativity

  • Attitude – be enthusiastic, flexible, and postitive.
  • Leadership skills – be willing to take on more responsibility to improve a product or process.
  • Growth potential – go beyond the job description.
  • Creativity – ability to think outside the box and solve problems.
  • Hobbies – be passionate about something outside of work.

 

No test scores here!

I’m still looking. If universities base their admissions on high test scores, then maybe we need to rethink higher ed. Uh oh! I’m touching on something here that could get very messy.

How do you teach creativity and passion?

Found an article on Ambition: The Fire in the Belly Employers Want by Jane Genova.

“Those hiring and promoting learned from the downturn and intense economic volatility that’s it’s no longer enough to do ‘just a job,’” says Michael Francoeur, Dale Carnegie Training instructor and executive coach. “Employers now know that what kept their business growing or even saved it were the employees who saw beyond their job description. They pushed to do whatever was needed at the time. Often their most important contribution is persistence. The ambitious stay with a project, no matter how bad things seem. That’s usually because they have the confidence to believe in themselves. The less ambitious would have become discouraged.”

I see that ambition similar to finding someone’s passion. When you are passionate about something, you fight for it. There are no punching time clocks. I’ve watched game designers work way into the night so excited about this or that. Maybe there is that passion about finding a cure for a terrible disease or a new type of transportation that is economical and safe for the environment. Maybe we need this type of passion to come up with strategies to fix our economy or climate change.

So I decided to look for top personal values employers look for in employees:

  • Strong work ethics
  • Dependability and responsibility
  • Possessing a positive attitude
  • Adaptability
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Self-motivated
  • Motivated to grow and learn
  • Strong self-confidence
  • Professionalism
  • Loyalty

No test scores again!

I’m putting this out there to you — teachers, parents, professors, administrators, students. Maybe our whole system needs shaking up. Are we teaching these skills and values?

Students will need to graduate with these skills:

  • The ability to act independently and solve problems on their own.
  • Strong interpersonal written, oral, and social skills to collaborate with colleagues.
  • Strong global literacy to understand people around the world.
  • The ability to acquire the information they need to do the job.
  • The ability to learn new skills as corporations change strategies to stay competitive.

The CEO of UPS wrote: “ We look for employees who can learn how to learn.”

So what does school like if we teach these skills and values and teach our students to learn how to learn?

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What NCLB Means For Schools Today

NCLB Busted
I provide coaching for public schools that work extremely hard to bring up their AYP (overall test scores) by focusing on motivating students to want to learn. I have been working with schools since the early 90s. I realized early in 2003 that NCLB (No Child Left Behind) was set up for public schools to fail.

No matter what a school did — they could not meet the goals. You see – many students don’t really care how they do on the test because they don’t see how this impacts them. The test is more about how the school and teachers are doing. Teachers are evaluated on the scores even though they are told they are not. Now I do see some schools taking the data to differentiate instruction but it still is teaching to the test. Teachers burn out. Principals are reassigned. Schools close. Communities suffer. (Survey on issues surrounding NCLB authorization)

Some schools are now becoming creative by bringing back project-based learning, inquiry, creativity, but many of the good teachers that taught like this left or retired. New teachers who are content experts who go through a few weeks of training are thrown in a classroom with little classroom management or even an idea of what project-based learning (PBL) is. They stay 2 years to forgive their loans. Actually I don’t blame them. Teaching is hard work. It sounds pretty neat for people who want to make a difference and are told they would be a great teacher. It’s just that teaching is different since NCLB was put in place.

With NCLB, for the last 11 years, a whole generation of students and teachers only know to teach to the test. It’s going to take some work to change these beliefs and move to a more student-centered model. It’s supposed to be all about our kids — right? Read about Virginia and NCLB

Making teachers accountable based on test scores alone hasn’t been working. There are ways to create a team (parent, teacher, child) to monitor learning progress. The Reggio Emillia Approach designed in Italy after World War II is centered around the pre-school child where the teacher monitors progress, guides the learning, and brings in the parent and the learning environment as support. This is being looked at closely in the US as an approach for K-12.

To really make a difference in a child’s life, there needs to be a smaller teacher to student ratio, time for reflection, group and individual work, hands-on activities, problem-solving, learning to question, etc. Some schools are starting early with students as part of an advisory group – they keep the same teacher or advisor through their elementary years. This is what they do in Finland. Teachers need more collaborative time to plan and learn from each other.

Right now teachers are barely keeping their heads above water – hoping to cover the curriculum. Other countries have found that if you teach students to question, be critical thinkers, they don’t need to be spoon-fed all the information. They just need to learn how to find the information themselves, analyze it and synthesize it in their own words. It is a matter of going deeper (Depth not Breadth). Teach them how to fish instead of fishing for them. If they understand how to think critically, ask the right questions, be creative and innovative, use the appropriate tools for the task at hand, then they can compete in this global marketplace. Not all students are college-bound. Maybe we need to rethink learning goals and what is appropriate for each child. School is just starting and we can make a difference.

This is a critical time and we don’t want to leave any of our children behind.

5

The 4Cs Gives Students Wings

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children.
One is roots. The other is wings.
Holding Carter Jr.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) and FableVision just released the animated film “Above & Beyond” created by Peter Reynolds to emphasize the value of 21st century skills in education. This original animated film is designed to spark conversations about the essential innovation skills needed for students to be successful – and the U.S. to remain economically viable — in an increasingly challenging global economy.

P21’s nationwide coalition of business and education leaders have spent years creating a framework for integrating 21st Century Skills into education, and are now promoting a bundled subset of skills called the “4Cs”:

  • communication
  • collaboration
  • critical thinking
  • creativity

These skills are cited by industry as the keys to innovation and invention and essential skills for all employees. P21 will use the film, along with an online digital toolkit that includes a downloadable poster and support resources, in a nationwide campaign to make the 4Cs a household term and promote the integration of 4Cs across all subject areas.

New York Times best-selling children’s book author, illustrator and FableVision founder Peter H. Reynolds (The Dot, Ish, The North Star) created Above & Beyond to tell an allegorical story of how the 4Cs help students move beyond foundational “3Rs” to acquire the 21st Century Skills that industry demands.

This animated film tells the story of two school children who compete in the school’s engineering contest – one of whom can’t move beyond the boxed kit – and the other who is an “out of the box” dreamer and visionary. The students join forces – and use communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity to win the race. The allegorical fable helps show that content mastery without the 4Cs skills won’t give students the “wings” required to meet the demands of higher education, career and life in a global society and world economy.

To download a free 4Cs poster, go to www.p21.org/4Cs

For more information on:

Partnership for 21st Century Skills, visit http://www.p21.org/ and connect with P21 on Twitter @P21CentSkills.

FableVision Studios and FableVision Learning, visit www.fablevision.com and connect with FableVision on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

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