Monday, April 11, 2011

21st Century Skills

Having studied ISTE NETS standards and Partnership for 21st Century Skills, I can’t help but agree that they outline skills and standards that we should use to inform classroom instruction. Who could not endorse creativity, communication and collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and the rest as skills that students should develop.  The framework for 21st Century  includes many of the same skills  and adds learning core subjects and life and career skills.  As the overview of the framework says, it is a more holist view of education.  These standards and desired outcomes are the starting place for Understanding by Design.  The most important thing to me about UbD is that it focuses on essential questions.  I firmly believe that it is the questions that we ask that drive learning. 

However, in one of the comments on Scott McLeod’s blog the wrtier mentioned that the standards movement measures in the narrowest way.  Which is true of many state standards.  If one just taught to the standards learning would be pretty narrow and dry but I agree with the writer that the best teaching is responsive to the student.  Good teachers are always asking, “what next? “ (Allowed and built into UbD).The questions raised about whether these standards are anything new or enough is a good one.

The profound difference technology has made is opening up the world for teachers as well as for students.  Information and resources are at our fingertips. It is a very challenging and exciting time.  Although quality teaching and learning can be done without technology, it is a lot easier with it. The risk is to be dazzled and distracted by technology and loose sight of our goals and that’s where the standards help. I think we are just beginning to come to grips with what it means to live in a world where information and communication is at our fingertips all the time. 



  1. Tough topic: ISTE NETS, State Standards, & P21. I personally think these three entities work against each other to a large extent. Where the ISTE NETS represent (or at least are supposed to represent) an independent body promoting creativity, research, connectivity, collaboration, etc., P21 does so from an economic or corporate bias. Both P21 and ISTE NETS attempt to open up curriculum while the standards tend to close down or hone in.

  2. Point taken. Every time I see an "s" in an acronym I think "standard". ISTE NETS is about performance indicators that I think make a lot of sense.