17 Ways to Develop 21st Century Skills in Classrooms and Schools (Steve Guditus)

If we want our students to possess, practice and utilize 21st century skills, then we must support the implementation and practice in our administrators, staff, classrooms and school structures.  Not only must classroom teachers keep 21st century skills in their forethought of planning, administrators too must be cognizant of how their words and actions support (or don't support) staff development and how the structures of their schools promote and encourage (or don't) the utilization and practicing of 21st century skills in the classroom with students.
After reading the National Academy's study brief of "Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century," I was inspired to think about how administrators must support teachers, so they can support students.  Let's model with staff what we want implemented with students.  According to the National Academy's study, deeper meaning occurs when students can take information learned and transfer it to a new situation.  This makes sense to me - take the the ideas of scientific method from science class, and use the steps to determine how General Cornwallis should address the next attack by George Washington and Continental Army in the Winter of 1777.

Some ideas to promote transference of deeper meaning in the classroom:
  1. Infuse simulations; they provide opportunities to practice problem-solving and strategizing.
  2. Provide data/charts/graphs to students ask them to make conclusions; share with the class.
  3. Require students to explain, followup, elaborate and defend.
  4. Build processes into class to reflect upon their thinking.
  5. Require students to explain each step in their answer to a question.
  6. Have students write about their math answers.
  7. Utilize case studies.  Provide students with relevant details, have them make their own conclusions, and compare to what occurred historically.
  8. Emphasize skills learned, not just content.
  9. Utilize rubrics in class to provide feedback to students on their creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.  Coach students on ways to develop and improve.
  10. Practice assessment for learning (formative); use this to drive your instruction from day to day.  You can learn more information about assessment for learning vs. assessment of learning here.
As an administrator, you can encourage staff to develop 21st century skills and transference of deep meaning by:
  1. Ensuring interdisciplinary meetings are occurring, and occurring effectively and authentically.
  2. Praising staff for taking risks in the classroom.
  3. Protecting time for collaboration and provide structure so teams are functional.
  4. Emphasizing skills as well as content in your conversation and language.
  5. Working with staff to implement a common rubric on the 4Cs of 21st century skills.
  6. Building in regular time for staff to reflect and revise.
  7. Collaborating with staff, parents, students and community members to build a robust advisory system that stresses reflection, cultural and global awareness and perspective-taking.


Sue said…
Thanks for a comprehensive post. I would add that principals need to be present at all learning sessions. Further, they need to learn alongside their staff. Have you seen the power of this?
doctordea said…
The list of specific measures teachers can take to engage learners and promote transfer is helpful. Most if not all of these also support Common Core expectations.

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