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21st Century Learning: Skills & Standards

Instructor: Rachel Tustin

Dr. Rachel Tustin has a PhD in Education focusing on Educational Technology, a Masters in English, and a BS in Marine Science. She has taught in K-12 for more than 15 years, and higher education for ten years.

This lesson will provide an overview of 21st century curriculum and skills. These will include themes for broadening traditional curriculum in classrooms, as well as the skills necessary for students to implement these themes in classrooms and beyond.

21st Century Learning Standards and Skills

We live in a period in history where we are confronted every day with how our world has changed. The majority of us can reflect back on when cell phones were a luxury, not a standard. Some of us can remember the days of slow, dial-up Internet service. Others remember the long-gone days of DOS operating systems, and true floppy disks. The reality is that the world has changed dramatically in the last fifty years. Our education system must change to prepare children for success in this vastly different environment. 21st century skills are a framework intended to help educators design curriculum to prepare students for success in this new world.

21st Century Curriculum Themes

English, math, science, and social studies have long been and will continue to be the four core subjects in nearly any school in America. Few would argue that these courses are fundamental to preparing students for college. However, under 21st century skills, several new themes for instruction are considered equally relevant. These include global awareness as well as financial, civic, health, and environmental literacy.

The curriculum themes were developed based on outcomes students need to be successful in the changing world in which we live. It is no longer enough to be competent in reading, writing, and mathematics. Rather, these themes and related skills focus on teaching students to be contributing members of society.

21st Century Curriculum Themes

Global Awareness

Global awareness is one such theme. We do not work in isolation, but live and work as members of a global community. The standard of behavior in one culture does not necessarily translate to a global scale. Students must have a foundation of cultural understanding, no matter their own cultural background. This knowledge will enable them to communicate and ultimately collaborate with other cultures around the world. This includes having an understanding of non-English languages used in countries with which they will ultimately collaborate.

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