What is 21st Century Learning?

Definition: The term 21st century skills refers to a broad set of knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits that are believed—by educators, school reformers, college professors, employers, and others—to be critically important to success in today’s world, particularly in collegiate programs and contemporary careers and workplaces. Think jobs that have yet to be thought of or created.

I have talked throughout the year about how my district has encouraged the 4Cs in all my planning. It has driven how I created my students Personalized Learning Pathways (PLP) for my students—they have IEPs.

You know the four Cs right. Great colors, wonderful wording and multiple ways to explain:
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking


Problem solving
Students need the ability to solve complex problems in real time.

Why it’s important: In the future, complex problems that we can’t even conceive right now will be everywhere. The more we focus on students’ ability to devise effective solutions to real-world problems, the more successful those students will become.

Creativity
Students need to be able to think and work creatively in both digital and non-digital environments to develop unique and useful solutions.

Why it’s important: Our digital students are in a constant state of stimulation and neural development with technology use. They are natural producers and consumers, or prosumers, of information. Problem-solving is a skill that comes naturally to them and this can be advanced profoundly with the proper engagement in their learning. This comes from doing rewarding projects and meaningful tasks that give them challenges to overcome in imaginative ways.

Analytic thinking
Students need the ability to think analytically, which includes proficiency with comparing, contrasting, evaluating, synthesizing, and applying without instruction or supervision.

Why it’s important: Analytic thinking means being able to use the higher end of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy or higher-order thinking skills (HOTS).

Collaboration
Students must possess the ability to collaborate seamlessly in both physical and virtual spaces, with real and virtual partners globally.

Why it’s important: Students of the digital age are social by nature. They text, post, update, share, chat, and constantly co-create in technological environments with each other. When they are unable to do this in school, they become disengaged and unattached to their learning. Connection and collaboration with others are essential not only to their learning but their mental and emotional health. This kind of interaction goes hand-in-hand with the mindset of global awareness that is part of Global Digital Citizenship. Simply put, better collaborators make better students—and better citizens.

Communication
Students must be able to communicate not just with text or speech, but in multiple multimedia formats. They must be able to communicate visually through video and imagery as effectively as they do with text and speech.

Why it’s important: Communication is a broad term that incorporates multi-faceted levels of interaction and sharing information. Students love to communicate using technology. But it’s more than just being able to effectively use digital media. It’s about personal interactions as well.

What does this mean my Resource Room?

In my world, it’s about pushing students’ thinking with Higher Order Thinking Skills—think Create or Evaluate (Old Bloom’s), Synthesis or Evaluation (New Bloom’s), or Depth of Knowledge Level 4—Extended Thinking).

I do this with more than thinking critically about a book. With each book or group of books (depends on reading level) students have an Essential Question. This question encourages then to think beyond the text and create new information based on what they have learned. This question becomes the starting point of their PLP. They have voice and choice in how they answer the essential question. You also have to realize the work leading up to them creating their answer maybe anywhere from a couple of days to a whole month. I see students 4 days a week for at least 30 minutes a day. Most of
them are students with learning disabilities, communication delays or students with Autism.  Students only get at the MOST a couple of days to do their work—that time is theirs’s; not mine. I’m a guide, a support, techno wiz, troubleshooter, ear, problem solver but not teacher or answer giver. They do all the work. I’m really looking forward to seeing how their work with the new version I created with App-Smashing instead of one app for each of the 4C’s. Plus, we are moving everything second semester over to Seesaw (which I hope is way more user friendly to share work with parents, peers, and families. I'll post ideas and project on how I make all this work and meet IEP goals in the coming year.

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About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I'm Ms. Whiteley. I teach in the beautiful Mile High state--Colorado. This is my 13th year teaching in an rural K-6 Elementary school as a Exceptional Needs Teachers. As Exceptional Needs National Board Certified Teacher, I believe that ALL students can learn and be successful. When I'm not in school, I love to take my two Italian Greyhounds hiking 14ers and reaching for the stars. Thanks for Hopping By.
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