Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Partnership for 21st Centruy Skills Website Review

             My initial reaction to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills was one of relief that there really was a written comprehensive plan to address the essential skills students will have to be able to understand do for the 21st century.  In a collaborative effort, this partnership of educators, business, community, and government leaders proactively seek to close the gap between what students learn at school and what they need to know to meet the needs of the globally competitive workforce. 
            The organization of this website was comprehensive but sometimes difficult to navigate.   The tabs were explicit and content specific.  The route 21 page provided resources related to 21st century skills.  The reader is able to browse by support system, by skill or by knowledge.  Detailed information relating to standards, assessment, professional development, curriculum and instruction is easily accessible.  Links were available in all areas on all pages.  The website was comprehensive including a mission statement and explanation, desired learning outcomes, assessment tools, individual state reports on progress toward their goals, and professional development   Navigating from one page to another was challenging at times.  I was also disappointed that when trying to access the videos some did not work.
The symbolic rainbow framework on the overview tab appropriately interconnects all of the outcomes and support systems necessary to ensure 21century readiness for today’s students.  Required outcomes include the core subjects of 21st century themes, learning and innovation skills, information, media and technology skills and life and career skills.  In the article Learning for the 21st Century (nd., p4), essential learning skills were similarly listed, but on this website under the overview tab I was able to gain a better understanding of the meaning of Life and Career Skills
According to the website, the essential interpersonal attributes required by today’s work and life environments include adaptability and flexibility, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability and leadership and responsibility.  These skills represent the personal attributes that allow individuals to navigate the life and work environments in the competitive information age.  Reflecting on my teaching practices, I now recognize the necessity to directly teach life and career skills.  It will be up to me to research and create lessons that will foster this learning.
            When investigating the state initiatives, on the website, I noticed the absence of California.  My biggest disappointment is that the site does not address states that ignore the need to teach 21st century skills.  In my district, although we have recently received some smart boards, there is no initiative to revamp our teaching.  Teachers have received minimal instruction on how to use the new equipment, and as a result do not use it to develop 21st century learning skills.  Professional development to teach the new literacies, as described by Miners and Pacopella (2007), does not appear to be on the horizon at my school.  Instead foundational literacy continues to be the standard.  As a result of my districts failure to embrace 21st century learning skills, it is my responsibility to independently make the transition.  I will self-initiate changes in my assessment practices, instructional delivery, and my use of technology to foster 21st century learning (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, n.d., p4).  Utilizing real world contexts and infusing them into classroom learning will demonstrate respect for students’ intellect as well as prepare them to be successful contributors to the workplace of tomorrow.

Miners, Z., & Pascopella, A. (2007). The new literacies. District Administration, 43(10), 26–34

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). A report and mile guide for 21st century skills. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=254&Itemid=119

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). A report and mile guide for 21st century skills. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/images/stories/otherdocs/p21up_Report.pdf

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2007). 21st century curriculum and instruction. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/route21/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=13&Itemid=228&limitstart=1


  1. When reading your post I can definitely sense your frustration with the entire process of implementing these skills and technologies in the classroom. I don't know anything about your district, but if your just getting Smartboards, and the training is coming at a slow clip, it makes me wonder if your district is having some funding or budgetary issues. I would also say to you that the implementation of these lessons with the technology takes time. It takes time to come up with lessons, experiment with the lessons, and see which ones work and which ones work. I liked how you talked about not waiting for the district or state to do something, but taking the initiative for yourself. Taking that initiative is the only way to make sure it gets done for your students.

  2. The district I work at requires any teacher that is getting a smartboard to take part in a program known as Digital Backpack. In this program, first time smartboard users meet once a month to troubleshoot and share the different ways we are using are smartboards. For instance, in this month’s meeting two of my co-workers shared how to convert notes to smart notebook and how to convert video clips from teacher tube to an flv file for smart notebook. This program costs no money and could be something you could suggest to an administrator in your district. More importantly, as a group we model the 21st century skills we want our students to master such as collaboration.

  3. The website does, indeed, provide an outline of skills that need to be implemented into the classroom for students to succeed in the 21st Century. With so many school districts facing budget cuts and layoffs, how is this going to be possible? If a district is unable to provide funding for teachers and support staff how are they able to implement technology into its budget? Upon my review of the website, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, I am quite concerned that we are drastically failing our students. I noticed that less than 30% of states have a clear outline of what skills are necessary and those states, such as Massachusetts, were clear in defining what skills are necessary in grades 4 and above. I feel that the K-3 generation of students is at a disadvantage because it is assumed that they will learn technology skills and the skills necessary to compete in the workplace environment in the future. In addition, the 21st Century Standards allows for 'multiple measures of mastery.' This delineates the use of standardized tests in states that solely base the measurement of student performance on the basis of these scores. With the implementation of the national standards over the next several years, I hope to see more of these skills appear embedded into the daily curriculum for all content areas.