Category Archives: Partnership for 21st Century Skills

10 Things I Want to Tatoo on my Forehead

or
There’s nothing like a spot of reflection with my Maryland Crab soup.

1. I am infinitely grateful to live in New England and work with the people with whom I work. New Hampshire and Vermont are miles ahead of so many other states in terms of policy and support for 21st Century Skills. (Which begs the question- why are neither P21 Partner States?) And Antioch? Seriously- the most 21C friendly place in the higher ed world.
2. The coolest technology out there may very well be heart-thumpingly cool, but it’s not worth a pile of 8- Track tapes if it isn’t accessible, affordable, useful, and teacher-friendly.
3. That being said, high-tech and high-touch don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
(That “not mutually exclusive” thing? It also holds true for the content vs. process debate that some folks seem so hot to have.)
4. Within a community, anything is possible. Without one, nearly nothing is.
5. That community? We have to tend it intentionally, fundamentally and continually.
6. Random acts of school improvement may be interesting and empowering, but I don’t think we’ll change the world of schools unless we get serious and systemic.
7. Jaws still drop when I explain the Critical Skill Classroom to educators and staff developers for the first time.
8. Not enough educators and staff developers are aware of the CSC model. I need- we need- to figure out how to make them aware.
9. My creeping suspicion that I process best by writing is absolutely true.
10. There is a positive correlation between the stylishness of a pair of shoes and the number of blisters they will give the wearer.

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Shoulder to the Grindstone, Nose to the Wheel

Well, my assumption that the intellectual heavy lifting would begin this morning has proved itself correct. We’ve spent a bit of time so far unpacking the P21 Framework- both the “Rainbow” (the skills) and the “Waves” (the underlying support structures). The P21 Framework I’m struck again and again by the similarity (in both process and content) to the Critical Skills Program. From the opening question (What do students need to know and do in the 21st Century?) to the efforts of our facilitators to walk their talk, this is familiar ground for me. Interestingly, though, it’s familiar ground in a new way- sort of what I imagine it would be like to walk through your childhood home, were it loaded on the back of one of those big ol’ tractor trailers and hauled into a totally new part of town. Same, but different.

One provocative piece of the conversation this morning came from Dr. Chris Corallo, Director of Professional Development from Henrico County, VA. His district has made the bold statement that one can’t be considered a good teacher unless one is embedding technology in one’s instruction. My initial response was obviously, “That’s crazy talk. I know lots of great instructors who don’t know a wiki from a walky-talky.” Then I got to thinking and wondering…if our kids are going to live in a digital world, are we serving them well if we don’t model the ways the technology, artfully and intentionally used, can be a powerful tool for getting the job done? I’m not sure, to tell you the truth- but I look forward to taking the conversation on with you when I get home!

My work now (other than trying to stay awake in my post-lunch food coma) is to try to make a graphic alignment between the framework and CS model. As I warned Peter on Friday, this is where I think I’m going to be a bit out of my depth- but I think pushing myself out of my comfort zone will bring me to a new understanding of both CS and P21.

Wish me luck!

The Gang’s all Here

Well, we’re through the introductions and I’m thrilled with the cadre of professionals that are in the room. I wish could list them all, but suffice to say that they include some of the best and brightest in professional learning and technology. The conversation thus far has revolved around our projects- the specific things that we’re ostensibly here to do (besides suck up good ideas from everyone around us). While I have a semi-clear sense that my work over the next few days is clarifying the alignment between the CSP and the P21 framework, I’m also starting to recognize that the bigger question is one that links all of us in the room today: How do we simplify our practice so that our message isn’t so overwhelming? The P21 framework is big and a little intimidating,The P21 Framework
which is the same feedback we’ve gotten about Critical Skills over the years. We obviously don’t want to water either down, but how do we get to the simple, elegant interface between delivery, practice and visceral understanding of what it means to “do” Critical Skills in the 21st century?