Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

In the article, "The New Literacies", Miners and Pascopella first ask, "Students are immersed in 21st century “new literacy” technologies, but are schools preparing them for the future?" (2007). This question should make educators think. When I think about this, the first thing that comes to mind is how my students use my Promethean Board to aid in their learning. What I have found at times, is that students will look as though they understand the content while I have their attention on the board, however, when I give it to them on paper they are unable to perform. Is it wrong for me to teach using my Promethean Board? I do not think so, but I must be able to show them how to transfer what they are learning in a technology situation, to paper. In the education world students and teachers are searching for better ways to understand and/or teach material and skills. Using technology is a great way to do this, but their should definitely be a balance between the two.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills website discusses what skills students should possess for the 21st century, by providing a framework for teaching these skills, so that they will be prepared for the workplace. The diagram on the website shows the balance between these skills and the importance of each. It is evident that core subjects are still very important in the education world. This model puts a high importance on life and career skills, and information, media, and technology skills are included, which is appealing to me. Right now, this is not happening at our school. I feel like we are unfortunately leaving out life and career skills to focus more on standards and assessments. Although we do need these things, I think we should also be required to teach students skills that our students will use the rest of their lives. How to communicate with others, how to work in a group with people of different backgrounds, etc., and how to use a computer are just a few skills of the many that we should also be teaching. I am excited about what this could mean for my students and all the information it provides for educators.

I am most surprised by the life and career skills being a part of the model for 21st century learning. It was my assumption from my personal experience that those skills were the missing link to making our students successful. It is comforting to know that that is not the case. I agree completely with the framework for the skills to be taught. I have learned from this site that I need to be a more creative teacher. Although the standards are increasing in number and in depth, I think it is important for educators to continue to be creative and make learning fun. Paper and pencil cannot guide my instruction; instead technology and other creative strategies should be my priority in order to get the skills to my students. Whether that is in a group project, or independently using a blog, students should have those opportunities. The support that this model offers could quite possibly change our students and their dispositions dramatically. This is what I need as an educator.


(2004). The partnership for 21st century skills. Retrieved from

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


  1. I am a Career and Technical teacher and a lot of the classes and programs we teach are career and life skills, especially in the business department. We meet with business people from the community twice a year for advice on what skills are important for students to have in order to succeed in the work place. Time and time again, they list communication, etiquette and coming to work on time as the most popular skills they are looking for in new hires. However, there is a trend happening in my state where these types of classes and programs are being terminated due to budget cuts and low numbers of students taking our classes because of increased liberal arts requirements, such as additional math and science credits to graduate. The corporate world and organizations such as the Partnership for 21st Century, are advocating that "x" standards are important, but the state department of education is saying that "y" standards are the ones we will teach. Which is right? There is a tug of war, and time is running out, we all need to work together and do what is best for the students.

  2. I completely agree. It does seem like they contradict themselves. I think that we almost need to do a little of both. Obviously we are held to our state curriculum standards and we must teach those things, however, I feel that we are doing our students a disservice if we do not teach them life skills. I think the students would also respond better to the state standards, if they were taught some of the life skills they need, such as respect. There is a sense of urgency there. They want structure, however, some of them have not been taught how to deal with it. I have found this out first hand this year. We are getting ready to start a new plan with our students in grades three through six for this very reason. We know the standards are high and we know we have to meet them, but unfortunately we are putting out "little fires" if you will, between students and that interupts our instruction. You are completely right, we have to work together and do what we feel is best for our students.

  3. I believe educators probably incorporate life skills into the classroom more than we might think. Simply by providing the students with opportunities to work in groups will teach the students how to communicate with each other. On a daily basis there are teachable moments that if taken advantage of will also teach students different life skills. For example, if two students are arguing during recess, the teacher can help the students brainstorm ways to solve the problem. Manners can be taught by having the students say please and thank you when someone brings in a birthday treat. Technology can enhance these learning experiences but educators do teach many life skills without even realizing it.

  4. You are definitely right in saying that we as educators need to be more creative. How else are we supposed to teach every standard of our curriculum and teach the skills necessary for our students to succeed in a global workforce? “Today, educators have the opportunity to integrate learning skills,21st century tools and core subjects to create a vibrant education for their students” (Partnership, 2004). Collaborating with other professionals through educational blogs regarding 21st century skills, as well as, promoting discussion amongst school colleagues may help to spark a newfound creativity in our everyday teaching practices.

    Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). A report and mile guide for 21st century skills. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved from