Edutopia parents-guide-21st-century-learning


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Edutopia parents-guide-21st-century-learning

  1. 1. Discover the tools and techniques today’steachers and classrooms are using to prepare students for tomorrow—and how you can get involved.
  2. 2. 21ST-CENTURY LEARNING STEP-BY-STEP, schools from the INSIDE THIS GUIDE elementary through high school levels are making the transition to 21st- ELEMENTARY SCHOOL century learning. Some have crossed The World Peace Game the threshold almost entirely. Where does your child’s school exist on the Skype in the Classroom new teaching-learning continuum? Peace Helpers Become In today’s progressive classrooms, Classroom Problem yesterday’s rows of quiet listeners Solvers have given way to small groups of active learners, thoroughly engaged MIDDLE SCHOOLin discussions and explorations. And where’s the teacher? Instead of Down the Drainstanding front and center to deliver instruction, he or she is apt to beon the move, observing, asking questions, and guiding students to make Digiteen: Digital Citizenship for Teenagerstheir own sense of the world. Even the classroom walls have expanded,with technologies connecting students to the wider global community. World of Warcraft In many schools, the Internet has opened access to a vast world of in Schoolinformation, and students are learning critical-thinking skills to filterout the noise and decide which sources are reliable, which information HIGH SCHOOLto trust. Kids now create and share their own content too. This means World Youth Newsstudents need to master new technologies and also learn to navigateonline communities safely and responsibly. Digital Youth Network This guide is intended to bring more parents into the conversation Money Corps: Financeabout improving education. You’ll get a glimpse of outstanding online Experts as Guestresources and projects, sorted by grade levels, and a list of tips to help Teachersyou bring 21st-century skills home. The guide also lists organizationsthat offer more in-depth information about project-based learning, ACROSS THE GRADESsocial and emotional learning, and other strategies to improve More Ideas that Workeducation. We hope you’ll share this guide with other parents, teachers,and school leaders. Ten Tips to Bring 21st- Century Skills Home —Suzie Boss @suzieboss Resources to Bring the Edutopia blogger and co-author of Reinventing Project-Based Learning C’s to Your SchoolE D U TOPIA.ORG | PAGE 1 Illustrations by Jared Andrew Schorr
  3. 3. SKILLS FORTOMORROWTO PREPARE FOR COLLEGE, careers, and citizenship, it’s not enough to master academ- SET THE STAGEics. Students also need to acquire a set of skills that will last for a lifetime. To be able to To learn more about why 21st-solve problems in our complex, fast-changing world, students must become nimble, century skills matter and howcreative thinkers who can work well with others. (Not surprisingly, an IBM 2010 global schools are integrating them, explore this blog series by Ken Kay,study of chief executive officers revealed that — more than any other skill — creativity CEO of EdLeader21 and formeris most important for succeeding in today’s increasingly complex society.) These president of the Partnership Forcompetencies — known as 21st-century skills — are summed up as the “4Cs” by the 21st Century Skills: for 21st Century Skills ( They include the following: blog/21st-century-leadership- overview-ken-kay C ollaboration: Students are able to work effectively with diverse groups and Judy Willis, neurologist and former exercise flexibility in making compromises to achieve common goals. classroom teacher, explains how C reativity: Students are able to generate and improve on original ideas and also the human brain develops and offers strategies to teach critical work creatively with others. thinking. She says the right kind of C ommunication: Students are able to communicate effectively across multiple learning experiences help children media and for various purposes. activate their brain networks in C ritical thinking: Students are able to analyze, evaluate, and understand ways needed to become proficient problem solvers and creative complex systems and apply strategies to solve problems. thinkers: understanding-how-the-brain-The 4Cs don’t replace academic learning goals. Students still need to become good thinks-judy-willis-mdreaders and writers, even though they may be learning and publishing on new platforms. Did You Know? 2.0, a hugelyUsing mathematics to solve problems, and seeing the world through the lens of the popular video developed byscientist are essential for today’s learners. Students also need to draw their own educators Karl Fisch and Scottfindings from history’s lessons. The ambitious goal is to integrate 21st-century skills McLeod, shows with convincingwith rigorous core content so that students will master the 4Cs and the three Rs. statistics how the world is changing what young people can expect Schools are accomplishing this tall order via exciting new approaches. Through in the future: learning, students investigate real-world problems and design their own watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2Usolutions. Students use technology not just to access valuable content but also to createit. By working collaboratively, students are tackling big issues — in their communities PTChat (or Parent Teacher Chat) is a weekly conversation on Twitterand the larger world. Through effective teamwork, they’re also honing important social that brings together parents andskills, learning to respect diverse viewpoints and to resolve conflicts peacefully. teachers to connect in real time. Join the dialogue by following theDISCOVER GREAT LEARNING RESOURCES Twitter hashtag #ptchat. If you’re new to Twitter, read this helpfulThe following pages show examples of what 21st-century learning looks like in action introduction, “How to Use Twitterand across different grade levels. Throughout these sections, look for the “How to Get to Grow Your PLN”: edutopia.Involved” suggestions for parent participation. org/blog/twitter-expanding-plnE D U TOPIA.ORG | PAGE 2 A Parent’s Guide to 21st-Century Learning
  4. 4. The Elementary School YearsBUILDINGFOR SUCCESSDURING THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL YEARS, an introduction to 21st-centuryskills helps children build a solid foundation for future success. Earlylessons in sharing and cooperation set the stage for effective teamwork.Young readers and writers begin to use their emerging literacy skills tocommunicate important ideas. When children are encouraged to ask goodquestions and indulge their curiosity, they acquire inquiry skills that helpthem solve tomorrow’s challenges. THE WORLD PEACE GAME If given a chance to apply their critical-thinking skills to the world’s biggest PEACE HELPERS BECOME CLASSROOMproblems, there’s no limit to what kids might accomplish. The World Peace Game, PROBLEM SOLVERSdeveloped by veteran teacher John Hunter, immerses students in global problem Watch his TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talk to get a glimpse of peace-helpers-videohis young problem-solvers in action. One class of fourth graders developed a solution When children are in the role of settlingfor climate change — in just a week! disputes between classmates, they putHOW TO GET INVOLVED: World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements is a documentary key communication skills to work andby Chris Farina that describes Hunter’s immersive classroom project. Watch the also help create a more positive climatewebsite for screenings in your area ( and invite others from for learning. After you watch this videoyour school community to join you for a post-film discussion. of the Peace Helpers program in action, download the how-to guide for practical SKYPE IN THE CLASSROOM tips from the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. Students are expanding their horizons via Skype, a free service that uses the HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Parents play aInternet for voice or video conferencing. Using Skype in the Classroom, teachers find key role in developing their children’spartners for projects that extend learning beyond the school and even across time zones. emotional intelligence. Learn more aboutFor young learners, collaborative projects open new opportunities to communicate for EI so you can partner with schools toengaging, real-world purposes. build children’s conflict-resolution skillsHOW TO GET INVOLVED: If you’re a parent who travels occasionally, arrange to Skype by reading “Emotional Intelligence Iswith your child’s classroom and offer a parent-on-the-street report or tour from another the Missing Piece” ( of the world. One creative elementary teacher has used this strategy to help his emotional-intelligence-missing-piece).kids connect with people on almost every continent.E D U TOPIA.ORG | PAGE 3 A Parent’s Guide to 21st-Century Learning
  5. 5. The Middle School YearsPICKING UP THE PACETHE MIDDLE SCHOOL YEARS are a time of rapid change. Along with physical growth spurts come cognitive changes as the youngadolescent brain matures. That means middle school students are ready for more complex challenges, such as evaluating onlineinformation sources, that allow them to apply their emerging critical-thinking skills. Engaging projects help to focus their attentionon learning while also teaching important life lessons about managing time, planning ahead, and working effectively with peers.Digital activities that invite creativity provide adolescents with positive outlets to express themselves to their selected audiences. DOWN THE DRAIN How much water does your household send down the drain in a day? How does WORLD OF WARCRAFT IN SCHOOLyour family’s water consumption compare with families in Africa, India, or elsewhere wowinschool.pbworks.comin the world? Students are investigating these questions with peers from around If you think digital gaming is a wastethe world in a collaborative project called Down the Drain. Many students become of time, think again. World of Warcraft,motivated to suggest innovative solutions around water consumption, which are a massively popular online game,showcased in a student gallery on the project website. isn’t about blood and guts. WinningHOW TO GET INVOLVED: Use your child’s budding interest in the environment as requires strategic thinking and buildinga springboard for household conservation. Find a hundred (or more) ideas for skills as players set off on daring quests.shrinking your family’s water footprint by visiting the Water — Use It Wisely site: Creative teachers are leveraging to encourage in-depth studies of the hero’s journey theme in literature. DIGITEEN: DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP FOR TEENAGERS Created by educators, the site, called World of Warcraft in School, describes To promote digital citizenship and 21st-century skills, this global project enables language arts connections that developstudents to connect so they can discuss issues and take action. As a matter of course, students’ abilities as writers and readerskids develop skills in writing, multimedia, global education, and more. — and gamers.E D U TOPIA.ORG | PAGE 4 A Parent’s Guide to 21st-Century Learning
  6. 6. The High School YearsPREPARINGFOR THE FUTURESETTING GOALS and getting ready for life after high school become increasingly important as students advance through the uppergrades. Older teens may direct their problem-solving skills to tackle social or political issues as they prepare to be active citizens.Youth who have grown up with good advice about navigating the digital world know how to locate, evaluate, and analyze onlineinformation, and they also create original content. Some teens readily share what they know, teaching younger students to be safeand responsible online. WORLD YOUTH NEWS As presidential-election season kicks into high gear, student reporters are MONEY CORPS: FINANCEdelivering their own media coverage and analysis of unfolding news events on World EXPERTS AS GUEST TEACHERSYouth News. Students from 10 schools in the United States are part of an innovative 2.0 project funded by the U.S. Department of State and coordinated by Learning to manage personal financesiEARN (, a global education nonprofit. American youth are connecting is an important life lesson for teens. Towith peers from four other countries — Ecuador, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Thailand make sure students don’t learn the hard— that are also electing new leaders in the coming year. In addition to publishing their way about the perils of credit card debt,own multimedia news stories, students exchange cross-cultural ideas about citizen community volunteers share theirengagement, campaign funding, and other hot topics. expertise through financial-literacy efforts. Entrepreneurship programs put DIGITAL YOUTH NETWORK students in the role of business creator. Students apply teamwork skills as they Learning doesn’t stop with the school bell. DYN is a hybrid digital-literacy write business plans and roll out marketingprogram that creates opportunities for students to learn both in-school and out. campaigns. Read more in the blog “Entre-Increasingly, community libraries are becoming popular hangouts for teens eager to use preneurship Education Stresses Learningdigital tools to create their own music, movies, and more. Working with peers and men- by Doing”:, they’re redefining how and when learning happens. For a glimpse of a new national preneurship-education-pbl-suzie-boss.model for informal learning focused on teens’ interests, take a look at YOUmedia, a HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Anyone withcollaboration between DYN and the Chicago Public Library: budgeting experience — whether it’s forHOW TO GET INVOLVED: So far, a dozen sites have been selected as locations where a business or a household — has practical21st-century learning labs will be built in libraries and museums. The initiative, insights worth sharing. Volunteer as acosponsored by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, will expand classroom speaker or offer to serve onthe YOUmedia model of informal learning. Find out more about these projects from an entrepreneurship panel to providethe John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ( feedback on students’ business proposals.E D U TOPIA.ORG | PAGE 5 A Parent’s Guide to 21st-Century Learning
  7. 7. Across the GradesMORE IDEASTHAT WORK DIGITAL MEDIA: NEW LEARNERS PROJECT-BASED LEARNING: SOCIAL NETWORKS: OF THE 21ST CENTURY ANATOMY OF A PROJECT: HOW DOES EDMODO SUPPORT “KINETIC CONUNDRUM” PROJECT-BASED LEARNING?This nearly hour-long program on the Parents website looks inside schools learning-kinetic-art-video does-edmodo-support-pbl.htmlthat are pushing the edge of classroom To see what project-based learning is In Dayna Laur’s Pennsylvania socialinnovation. See what students and like in action, look no further than this studies classroom, students use socialeducators are accomplishing with inquiry- interdisciplinary project that focuses networking to start discussions and sharerich projects at the Science Leadership on how science, math, and engineering ideas for projects, such as reducing crimeAcademy in Philadelphia; place-based connect to art. Kinetic Conundrum in their county. In her blog, Laur explainslearning in Middleton, Wisconsin; and combines visual art, history, language how she uses Edmodo, a social-mediagame-based learning at Quest 2 Learn in arts, technology, and communications. site for education, to connect parentsNew York. The website includes extensive Watch student creativity unfold in with the lively conversations happeningonline resources. response to an intriguing, open-ended in the classroom. Using social network- challenge about creating art. ing for a serious purpose builds students’ HOW TO GET INVOLVED: In project-based 21st-century skills of communication, 22 SIMPLE IDEAS FOR learning, students often need to consult collaboration, and critical thinking. To HARNESSING CREATIVITY IN THE with outside experts. Volunteer for this role see Laur’s class in action, watch “Mix- ELEMENTARY CLASSROOM and share what you know. It’s a short-term ing Art + Politics — Integrated way to connect with the classroom, and in in High School” ( the process, you’ll get a better appreciation grated-studies-york-resources-video), aIn this popular blog, kindergarten for the deep learning that takes place video about an interdisciplinary project.teacher Trisha Riche shares easy-to- during a challenging project. HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Downloadimplement suggestions for bringing more Edutopia’s Home-to-School Connectionscreativity to class. She explains that being Guide ( energizes teachers as well as school-connections-resource-guide)students, and it means being passionate, for more ideas on connecting familiesinnovative, and thinking outside the box. with classrooms.E D U TOPIA.ORG | PAGE 6 A Parent’s Guide to 21st-Century Learning
  8. 8. TEN TIPS TO BRING21ST-CENTURY SKILLS HOMELook for more opportunities to emphasize the four C’s at home and after school.For starters, check out these ten ideas: INVESTIGATE INTERNSHIPS AND EXTEND THE SCHOOL DAY with UNLOCK YOUR CHILD’S CREATIVE MENTORSHIPS that will give your experiences that help kids pursue POTENTIAL through community child firsthand experience with interests and build new skills. arts programs. Find out why thethe world beyond the classroom. Watch Here’s a look at some engaging after- arts are critical: Edutopia video: school programs: education-art-music-report.stw-career-technical-education- GET INVOLVED IN THE DO-IT- ENCOURAGE YOUR TEENS TO YOURSELF MAKER MOVEMENT LOOK FOR SUMMER CAMPS AND SHARE THEIR KNOWLEDGE with your family and tap the OTHER LEARNING EXPERIENCES as volunteers by mentoring benefits of tinkering. Learn more in this that build 21st-century skills. For younger students or teaching adults blog post:, Girl Scouts of the USA offers about technology. Find ideas at maker-faire-young-makers-program.girls a chance to earn innovation-minded in science, technology, engineering, HELP YOUR CHILDREN MASTERand math. Learn more at BUILD ON YOUR KIDS’ INTEREST COMMUNICATION AND CONFLICT-program/basics/science/. IN GAMING by getting them RESOLUTION SKILLS by practicing connected with Massively social and emotional learning at home. LOOK FOR EXPERIENCES TO Minecraft, a digital-media learning Borrow ideas from the Edutopia article, EXPAND YOUR CHILD’S GLOBAL community created by parents and “Raise Your Student’ Emotional- UNDERSTANDING of how people live teachers for students ages 4-16. Learn Intelligence Quotient,” ( economically challenged countries. more at 10-tips-creating-caring-school) andWatch this Edutopia video for one example: visit this social and emotional PRESERVE THE SWEET MEMORIES resource page: OF FAMILY VACATIONS by making emotional-learning. digital scrapbooks with your kids. Read this blog post to learn more about digital storytelling: transmedia-digital-media-storytelling- laura-fleming.E D U TOPIA.ORG | PAGE 7 A Parent’s Guide to 21st-Century Learning
  9. 9. BRING THE C’STO YOUR SCHOOLThe following organizations offer resources for teaching the4Cs in schools. You’ll find background information alongwith resources to recommend to parent-teacher associationsor share with your child’s teacher or school leaders.THE WHOLE CHILD COMMON SENSE Whole Child, a project of ASCD Common Sense Media presents tools(formerly known as the Association for and resources to help families support In addition, we hope you’llSupervision and Curriculum Development) their children in becoming responsible take part in ongoing discussionsadvocates for communities to prepare digital citizens.children for the future. Look for a about what works in education.scorecard that assesses how well schools PARTNERSHIP FOR 21ST “Like” us on Facebook atand communities are doing in your area. CENTURY SKILLS and join our new Parents group:BUCK INSTITUTE FOR EDUCATION Learn more about the thinking behind 21st-century skills and find resources forThe Institute offers research, resources, parents and communities.and professional development to schoolsinterested in project-based learning. TEDx FOR ACADEMIC, SOCIAL, An offshoot of the high-profile TEDTalks,AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING (CASEL) TEDx events for youth are locally organized, independent sessions that bring togetherRead about the benefits of social and educators, organizations, and youth foremotional learning, see programs in action, live talks and storytelling about learningand find tools to help families encourage in new and different ways. The websitepositive discipline at home. includes resources for organizing your own local event.E D U TOPIA.ORG | PAGE 8 A Parent’s Guide to 21st-Century Learning
  10. 10. SUPPORT EDUTOPIA! WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION Donate to Edutopia and join with others who careA PARENT’S GUIDE about changing education. Your support will help us continue to do the following:TO 21ST-CENTURY LEARNING Identify key attributes of successful learning environmentsABOUT EDUTOPIAEdutopia is where The George Lucas EducationalFoundation’s vision to highlight what works ineducation comes to life. We are a nonprofit operating Bridge the gap betweenfoundation dedicated to improving K-12 learning those who are struggling and those who have solutionsby documenting, disseminating, and advocatingfor innovative strategies that prepare studentsto thrive in their future education, careers, andadult lives. Improve online tools and resources for educatorsThrough our award-winning website, videos, and to collaborate and share with one anothergrowing online community, Edutopia is supportingand empowering education reform by shining aspotlight on real-world solutions and providingproven strategies, tools, and resources that are Highlight districts andsuccessfully changing how our children learn. schools that have impactful and replicable solutionsTo find and share solutions, visit Please join us in ushering in a new world of learning. To make your tax- deductible donation, go to US AT EDUTOPIA.ORG© 2012 The George Lucas Educational Foundation | All rights reserved.