Do you believe that students needs to know more than the information that appears on a test?
If so, you are not alone. Edutopia, an initiative of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, is to support “rigorous project-based learning, social-emotional learning, and access to new technology.” The hope is not simply to produce more capable students — it’s also to breed lifelong learners, by ensuring today’s students are equipped with 21st Century skills. The belief Edutopia’s educators share is that what were once considered “the fundamentals” have changed.
With this perspective, Edutopia asks innovative questions: how do learners find solid information? How do students assess the quality of the information they find? How do they integrate and utilize knowledge in innovative ways?
Teachers and parents alike need information about how to pursue more active, holistic learning in these fast-paced times. Some of the community easily found includes STEM educators, special ed educators, people interested in assessment, the arts, project-based learning and social emotional learning.
Here is an example of how a teacher uses history to engage students about their own participation in the community:
One educator turns a history lesson on its head by helping students to imagine how a story that unfolded one way in 1969 might have been completely different today. Of Daniel Ellsburg’s choice to leak the Pentagon Papers, the educator notes: “The pentagon papers were actually delivered to the New York Times in the back of his car.” In an interview, Ellsburg expressed frustration that his bold action—he risked espionage charges—did not inspire as much activism in others as he’d hoped. How do we effect change differently now? Here’s how a 21st century educator might pose the question: what if the 1960’s had social media?
Another educator writes about the differences between cooperative and collaborative learning:
“The subtle difference is that in cooperative learning, roles are assigned to each student and in essence, each student is working independently, together. Collaborative learning is combining the skills and talents of all the students working together at the same time, on the same thing.”
Edutopia isn’t at all utopian. With a finger on the pulse of where education is headed, you need only look to a highly regarded, competitive and very innovative school, like the Olin School of Engineering. Olin relies upon project-based learning as a cornerstone of its structure. Collaborative learning is not an innovation at Olin; it is a given.
Give your child or student an opportunity to creatively solve problems – at home, while traveling, or at school. Many summer programs and internship opportunities provide this type of learning environment.
Tell us your thoughts on teaching 21st century skills!
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