Learn Like a Pirate: Chapter 7

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7. Twenty-First Century Skills

Welcome back to our book study on Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz. Today we are talking about chapter 7. Chapter 7 talks about twenty first century skills in the classroom.

You might ask yourself, “What are twenty-first century skills?” According to Mr. Solarz, there are thirty-four skills in eleven categories which comprise twenty-first century skills. These are skills that our students need in order to become college ready, or productive citizens. These are skills that are students need in order to be successful, not only in school, but also in life.

According to Mr. Solarz, these skills include:
*Communication and Collaboration
*Creativity and Inovation
*Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
*Reflection and awareness
*Flexibility and Adaptability
*Initiative and Self-direction
*Social and Cross-cultural Skills
*Productivity and Accountability
*Leadership and Responsibility
*Information Literacy
*Media Literacy

Many people hear twenty-first century skills and automatically think technology. I’ve heard many principals and teachers state that they are a twenty-first century school. The principal of my old school (I call her the Evil Empress) loved to say we were a Twenty-first Century School and we taught twenty-first century skills. She spent thousands of dollars on technology. There was a computer lab (all up to date computers), a media center with enough computers for a class, lap top carts in the upper grades, smart tables in the lower grades, and smart boards in every room. She even bought a robot that would interact with the kids and read books. I have to admit I miss all of technology listed above but reflecting back, that’s all the principal really promoted. The kids reflected on their work but really didn’t care about the work or how to improve. Students collaborated with each other and asked questions but I don’t think as a school, we really taught many of the Twenty-first century skills.

As teachers, it is our job to implement twenty-first century skills into our classrooms. It is not enough to just worry about how students can use technology. Yes, we live in a society where technology is very important, but its not the be all and end all.

We need to be sure that our students can collaborate and communicate effectively with others. Students need to be able to work together, listen to what others have to say, and see the value in the ideas of others. Students need to ensure that students get take responsibility for their learning and set goals to reach. Students need to be taught how to set a goal and the ways in which they can meet that goal.

According to Mr. Solarz, when teaching we need to give each student feedback using twenty-first century skills. As teachers we reflect back on our lessons. We ask ourselves, “What went well?” or “What do I need to change for my lesson to be more effective?” Just like we reflect, I have my students reflect on their behavior and on their work. Students complete a self reflection and write something that did well on (glow) and something they need to work on (grow.) My students also work together and give peer reflections. Students are then able to go back to their work and revise it based on the suggestions made by me or by their classmates.

I love the idea of giving the students a twenty-first century report card and that it is not based on grades. I feel that many of my parents and students are more concerned with a grade than they are with actually learning the content being presented. I think starting next school year I will begin to give out a twenty-first century report card. I’m wondering if the scale of 1-10 would work with my parents. I think they might still see it as a grade. Maybe just a minus,check minus, check, and check plus might work with my second grades, but I’m not sure.

How would you give scores on a twenty-first century report card without having the students or parents think about the score being a grade?

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Rachel


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