Skills For Today Week Highlights 21st-Century Learning

04/24/2017 03:15 pm ET

Walk into my classroom (or, more accurately, the newsroom) any day during second period – and you might see something like this: high-school students huddled at a table collaborating on a multimedia story that will eventually be published on our student-run news website. One student edits a video. Another student types an article. Another student crops a series of photos. Another curates social media posts into a Storify that will be embedded into the post. As they work, they communicate with each other about their plan. Also several student editors oversee the project, making sure deadlines are met and all necessary components are present in the final package.

My classroom is not unique. Scenes such as the one I described above happen in scholastic media classrooms throughout the country in the form of yearbooks, broadcast news shows, newspapers, news magazines and websites all produced by students who are learning and practicing 21st-century  skills every day. In fact, the 4 Cs of education – critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity – are commonplace in our publication and broadcast classrooms.

Journalism Education Association President-elect Sarah Nichols explains.

“As journalism teachers, we know scholastic media programs equip students with the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world,” said Nichols, who teaches journalism at Whitney High School in Rocklin, California. “Student journalists practice the 4 Cs every day in their roles as media producers. In asking themselves, ‘What’s the story, and how do I tell it?’ they are challenged to think critically, develop unique solutions and incorporate technology in their process of planning, reporting, producing and reflecting on their efforts. In journalism classes, students collaborate to produce stories with impact for an authentic audience — using a variety of platforms, operating within a budget and completing on deadline. Every aspect of the experience equips them with the 21st-century skills necessary for their next steps as lifelong learners, employees and citizens.”

This week K-12 educators – of all disciplines – are encouraged to participate in Skills for Today Week, an awareness event sponsored by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning to showcase what education looks like – and should look like – in 2017 and beyond. P21 will be using the hashtag #SkillsForToday on a variety of social media channels to promote examples of successful 21st century learning throughout the week – and urges all K-12 educators to do the same.

“We want to crowd source what these skills mean,” said David Ross, Chief Executive Officer for the Partnership for 21st Century Learning. “We don’t want P21 to tell sixth grade teachers, for example, what collaboration looks like; we want sixth grade teachers to say, ‘this is what collaboration looks like.’”

Many people – including policy makers – think they know what happens inside our classrooms. Skills For Today Week is a salient opportunity for educators to take it to social media to show all the incredible ways our classrooms already foster the types of skills that everyone needs to be “successful in college, career and life,” as Ross describes. 

If you are interested in participating, here’s an outline of this week’s themes:

Monday, April 21: 4Cs in College, Career, and Life

P21 will highlight how the 4Cs can equip students with the skills they need to succeed in college, career, and life.

Tuesday, April 25: Early Learning

P21 will underscore its commitment to early learning and show how crucial it is to begin college and career readiness in the early years.

Wednesday, April 26: Beyond School

P21 will illustrate how beyond school programs, a vital part of learning, can instill the 4Cs beyond the classroom and incorporate these skills across extra-curricular and afterschool settings.

Thursday, April 27: STEAM

P21 will emphasize how core STEAM skills – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics – are essential to success in today’s economy.

Friday, April 28: Global Learning

P21 will highlight how 21st century learning is a global effort—and provide states with a robust strategy to embed global competency in education.

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