I’m incredibly sad to say that this is the second to last Learn Like a Pirate post.  I have really enjoyed reading this book and I can’t wait to see the transformation in my teaching and the dynamic in my classroom next year.  #bringonthestudent-ledclassroom

Paul kicks off this chapter with a powerful message that really speaks to my heart.  I read it out loud to my husband (who is also a teacher) and he loved it as well.  We actually went on a little detour rant together inspired by this quote.  #weareteachernerds  Sorry for the length of this quote, but it’s a good one.  “For most of my career, I thought teaching content standards was my main job.  I had to make sure they knew all of the parts of the water cycle and that America was an extreme underdog in the Revolutionary War.  Never mind that my students didn’t know how to work as a member of a team or that they couldn’t look up information online without help.  Never mind that I sent children to middle school never having wondered about anything because teachers always told them what to think about.” (Solarz, 178)  Can I get an AMEN?!

I often find myself so focused on the academic demands of teaching that I toss out the twenty-first century skills that my students need.  There isn’t a standardized test for these types of qualities and skills.  The test comes when our little babies enter the real world.  We won’t get an exciting report with fascinating data that has us engrossed for hours (#sarcasm) from this real world test.  The results will be evident in the stories and successes that we hear from our students after they exit our classrooms.

What are twenty-first century skills? 
Am I the only one that thinks of technology when I hear this phrase?  Don’t ask me why but I always do.  Actually, twenty first century skills have little to do with technology.

Just a FEW of Paul’s list of twenty-first century skills include:
  *Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written, and nonverbal communication skills
  *Listen effectively
  *Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with partners and small groups
  *Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work without dominating or letting others do all the work
  *Realize a group can accomplish more than in individual
  *Leverage strengths of others to accomplish a common goal
  *Conceive creative solutions to problems after examining various possibilities from many angles
  *Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives
  *Take meaning from one experience, carry it forward, and apply it to a new and novel situation
  *Solve different kinds of non-familiar problems in both conventional and innovative ways
  *Know what you know and what you don’t
  *Adapt to varied roles, jobs, responsibilities, schedules, and contexts
  *Change your mind when you receive additional data

Paul’s list spans twelve pages of his book.  There are so many twenty-first century skills that I know I am merely skimming the surface of in my classroom.

How do we foster twenty-first century skills in our students?  
First, provide your students with valuable feedback that will encourage them to grow and understand how to incorporate these skills into their learning.  From there, encourage or chisel out time for reflection.  The reflection process is something that will likely need to be modeled and practiced with your students.  Help them become reflective human beings who are constantly thinking about how to become better at EVERYTHING they do!

Paul also suggests providing an additional progress report for students based on twenty-first century skills.  We all know that we can’t escape academic report cards and that parents and administrators will always focus on the As, Bs, or Cs on those little report cards.  Let’s teach our students that while those grades are important, these skills will help them for years to come.  I also look forward to helping my students realize (and hopefully maximize) their strengths, while being aware of and growing in their areas of weakness.

I’d love to hear how you teach and encourage twenty-first century skills in your classroom!