Saturday, December 15, 2007

Juggling 21st Century Skills and PSSAs

Teachers face many challenges. The world is a rapidly changing place (understatement) and we sometimes find ourselves scrambling to keep the pace. I've been devouring books lately, audio and print, and have been really intrigued by the comparisons between 20th and 21st century skills. The above diagram outlines the skills I am referring to and is linked to its source which gives more detailed information.

NCLB has brought about state level standards and testing which require attention as well! As I sit in trainings about these skills, some wonder how teachers are to incorporate these 21st century skills in light of the testing. I do not see these as separate. Let me explain, using third grade as my example.

For me the standards set the curriculum but not HOW I teach. Therefor I can create lessons which encourage cooperation, collaboration, higher level thinking, and technology as I address the standards. Last quarter my students were to learning about ecosystems in Science. Rather than just read the book, complete the worksheets and activities, and recite the information back on a test..... we used a wiki.

On this webpage (Wiki) I placed links to sites dealing with the various ecosystems we were studying so each ecosystem had about 4 sites. This way my students were using the internet as a research tool. In small teams students had to explore the sites in order to be able to report back plant and animal life, as well as climate of their ecosystem. All notes were kept in an inspiration template. Each group created a poster of their ecosystem and "taught" us about their ecosystem. This was a mini jigsaw activity.

I was exploring with voicethread at the time and did not have parent permissions for students to participate, so I created a voicethread as a study guide for them. The next time I do this activity I will still have students create posters, but we will scan them. The scanned images would be used to make a class voicethread.

Ah, yes, PSSAs.... the test I used was written in multiple choice format so that students learn how to take that type of test. Grades, yes... I used students' work on the project and the test for determining a grade.

I know we get overwhelmed, but there are ways to address the curriculum by using 21st century skills. I feel that is important because these are the skills that our students will need in the world. If you made it this far, thanks! Here is a spot where a group of us are talking about teaching these skills.

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