21st Century Skills - Reflections of a Kindergarten Teacher

I am part of a K-5 study group looking at 21st Century Skills and how to incorporate them into our curriculum. To frame our thoughts and work we were given 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times by Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel. The premise is that there has been a historic shift to a 21st century Knowledge Age and on to an Innovation Age. What is needed and valued in our work, our learning, and our life has changed. As always, we need children to learn and have a strong foundation in the skills of reading, writing, and math but our children also need the 7Cs skills of 21st learning.

The 7Cs skills of 21st Learning are:

Critical Thinking and problem solving
Creativity and innovation
Collaboration, teamwork, and leadership
Cross-cultural understanding
Communications, information, and media literacy
Computing and ICT literacy
Career and Learning self-reliance

How do these skills play out in my kindergarten classroom?
Project based learning is nothing new to a kindergarten classroom. It has always been the best way to engage students and they are able to construct their knowledge. Facilitating, not directly teaching, learning is the most meaningful for children. Of course there are times when direct teaching of skills is necessary. It is very important to keep a close eye on the standards as your road map but, every teacher and class is different so ways to teach those standards differ. Our Atlas Curriculum Mapping program could be used to document projects and themes in individual classrooms while showing how all the standards are met. Many supports are already in place at my school and district to build more 21st century skills into my classroom. The administration, PTG, and school committee are very supportive of providing technology for various projects. My obstacles to overcome are time, schedules, and curriculum. The trend appears to be that as we understand the value of students making more choices in their learning and we value the teacher as a facilitator, we are putting more scheduling and curriculum requirements on the teacher. My hope is through discussions and looking at real elementary school examples we can find ways to relieve this pressure.


Resources learned through reading and discussion:
Scratch
http://www.p21.org/
Virtual Field Trips l
Elementary Example
Parker School
Roger Von Oech
Digital Portfolios