21st Century Skills is now a well known phrase among the educator’s community. We often hear the reference to this term in Teacher Conferences, Education Summits and School Meetings. However little or no thought is given to interpretation and implementation of these skills in classrooms. More so there is greater ambiguity in the skills that Educators require to produce 21st Century catered classroom practices for deeper learning.
Critical Thinking and Problem solving, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Innovation are defined as skills that are needed to be developed in classrooms along with Digital Skills and Global Perspective . There is a n attempt by the various publishing houses to incorporate these skills in the activities planned as per the curriculum through the medium of textbooks.The teachers are expected to rise up to this challenge and establish some practices and incorporate methodologies which embrace Digital Learning and develop Global Citizenship . Here is a short guide that will help the teachers convert their classrooms into learning centres with deeper understanding of subject matter and can actually enhance problem-solving, critical thinking, and other 21st century skills amongst the students.
1. Digital Learning and Assessment
Using digital technology in classrooms is now mandatory to learning. Students are encouraged to view their devices as valuable tools that support knowledge (rather than distractions). It is easier for students to become independent learners with the help of technology. In fact, sometimes if a teacher responds by saying “I don’t know — use Google and tell us all!” This makes a difference in their reactions and outcomes!
Another important attribute about going digital is that it is good for the environment to go paperless — organizing teaching resources and activities on one’s own website and integrating technology brings students learning experience to a different level. Sharing links and offering digital discussions as opposed to a constant paper flow allows students to access and share class resources in a more organized fashion.
Expansion of teaching toolbox is required and educators must try new ways they have not tried before, such as teaching with social media or replacing textbooks with web resources. Not for the sake of tools but for the sake of students! Use material readily available on the internet like TED talks , Youtube Education Channels , and Edmodo to enhance your teaching,communication and announcements. Students appreciate novelty — not the new tools, but the new, more productive and interesting ways of using them.
In order to be able to offer students choices, having one’s own hands-on experience and expertise will be useful. Since technology keeps developing, learning a tool once and for all is not a option. Teachers must take charge of their own learning to update and upgrade by taking MOOCS with best Universities across the globe. Also take help of “How to” videos to understand the applications and also refer them to your colleagues. If possible teachers must learn coding while this one might sound complicated, coding is nothing but today’s literacy. As a pencil or pen were “the tools” of the 20th-century, making it impossible to picture a teacher not capable to operate with it, today’s teacher must be able to operate with today’s pen and pencil, i.e., computers. Coding is very interesting to learn — the feeling of writing a page with HTML is amazing!
Technology allows collaboration between teachers & students. Creating digital resources, presentations, and projects together with other educators and students will make classroom activities resemble the real world. Collaboration should go beyond sharing documents via e-mail or creating PowerPoint presentations. Many great ideas never go beyond a conversation or paper copy, which is a great loss! Collaboration globally can change our entire experience!
5. Connecting your classroom to the world.
Today’s tools make it possible to learn about other countries and people first hand. Of course, textbooks are still sufficient, yet, there is nothing like learning languages, cultures, and communication skills from actually talking to people from other parts of the world. It is possible to connect to various schools , classrooms on global exchange platforms. Such an experience transforms the vision and global identity of the learners.
It’s a shame that with all the tools available, we still learn about other cultures, people, and events from the media. Teaching students how to use the tools in their hands to “visit” any corner of this planet will hopefully make us more knowledgeable and sympathetic.Connect with learners across the boundaries and share your experiences. Have a question for an expert or colleague? Simply connect via social media: follow, join, ask, or tell!
6. Blog and Share
Encourage the integration of community resources beyond school walls.The value of writing for real audience and establishing their digital presence cannot be underestimated. To blog or not to blog should not be a question any more!It might sound obvious, but it is for today’s teachers to model how to appropriately use social media, how to produce and publish valuable content, and how to create sharable resources. Even though it’s true that teachers are people, and they want to use social media and post their pictures and thoughts, we cannot ask our students not to do inappropriate things online if we ourselves do it. Maintaining professional behaviour both in class and online will help build positive digital footprint and model appropriate actions for students.
7.Stem/ Steam/ Project Based learning
Adopting the innovative teaching methodologies which enable theme based learning must be incorporated in classrooms. Today’s students should develop their own driving questions, conduct their research, contact experts, and create final projects to share all using devices already in their hands. All they need from their teacher is guidance!
8. Student leadership
Students’ voice must be regarded in curricular choices. With a stringent curriculum guidelines ,there is little or no choice exercised by learners . A simple choice between an photo essay or story writing as a class assignment can ensure that learners are given a chance to exercise their choice. Careful planning for student participation and learning will transform students’ leadership qualities.
10. Differentiated Classroom & personalised instruction
As students have different personalities, goals, and needs, offering personalized instructions is desirable. When students are allowed to make their own choices, they own their learning, increase intrinsic motivation, and put in more effort — an ideal recipe for better learning outcomes! The teachers’ ability to identify students’ particular learning styles, intelligences, strengths and weaknesses s is the key to differentiated instruction. Educators must use various strategies (such as formative assessments) to reach diverse students and create environments that support differentiated teaching and learning. Innovative learning methods that integrate the use of supportive technologies, inquiry- and problem-based approaches and higher order thinking skills are to be emphasised in 21st Century Classrooms.