21st Century Skills

Image with text How to Strengthen Understanding by Design

How to Strengthen Understanding by Design: Five Suggestions

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Assessment, Authors, Instruction

I’ve been fortunate to be part of the Understanding by Design (UbD) family for a long time, originally as part of a team organized by the UbD authors Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins to help develop the program. Once the program was developed, I also became a member of the ASCD UbD faculty that conducted training across the country and even in several countries around the world.

I am proud of what has been and is being accomplished through UbD, one of the best curriculum design programs that exists today. But my experiences as a developer and trainer also exposed me to what I consider to be some problems and challenges facing UbD designers. In this blogpost, I suggest five ways that I think teachers and schools that are already familiar with and using UbD can strengthen the design model and make it more powerful, relevant and different from traditional curriculum design. Read more

Metacognitive Strategies for Improving Students' Mental Health

Metacognitive Strategies for Improving Students’ Mental Health

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Instruction, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Now more than ever, students need skills, strategies, and mental processes to more effectively cope with the many challenges that COVID-19, racial inequities, and distance learning pose.

Although many educators teach a wide range of critical-thinking skills, problem-solving processes, and coping strategies, students often lack the ability to independently identify and apply the appropriate critical-thinking skill, problem-solving process, or coping strategy to help them stay calm, think clearly, and resolve conflicts. Read more

Five Keys to Personalizing Deeper Learning

Five Keys to Personalizing Deeper Learning

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Instruction, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement, Technology

Based on Personalized Deeper Learning

Here’s a scenario to get us started: A colleague, Tom, is shoulder-deep advocating for technology as the best way to personalize learning for every kid. To start, he favors that every student be on a computer. For him, tech makes life easier for teachers.

I feel compelled to challenge Tom’s belief that every kid must have a digital program for every subject, all day, every day, if his teachers are going to personalize learning. (For starters, his declaration eliminates personalized learning for students who have neither a computer nor the internet, and most of those whose classrooms may have limited devices.) Read more

Constructive Rebellion Against Conformity

Constructive Rebellion Against Conformity

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Pandemic Response and Educational Practices

This entry is the 13th in a blog series called Pandemic Response and Educational Practices (PREP), which aims to highlight and further the important work educators are doing amid the worldwide COVID-19 crisis.

Based on Ready for Anything

Throughout our lives, society pushes us to conform.

Schools teach conformity, starting in preschool, initially under the guise of safety. As students matriculate through the K–12 system, they encounter a barrage of rules that implore them to do the right thing. Students are taught to listen quietly, raise their hand to be recognized, play nice, not talk back to the teacher, put their cell phones away, and so on. Read more

Insufficiency of Google

Dr. Google’s Knowledge is Not Enough!

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Technology

Based on Literacy Reframed: How a Focus on Decoding, Vocabulary, and Background Knowledge Improves Reading Comprehension

“Dr. Google” is often considered “the background knowledge center” of the classroom, standing ready to accommodate student searches for words, concepts, ideas, and factual information.

This notion is well-deserved, as Dr. Google is the ever-ready battery that charges student work. However, Dr. Google’s knowledge is not enough! New knowledge builds on prior knowledge. The more one knows, the more one can connect one piece of knowledge with another. When prior knowledge is weak or missing, students are working with a huge deficit. Read more