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Published by Thomas Sauer

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Published by: Thomas Sauer on Nov 10, 2010
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ou have likely heard theabove phrases—or somecombination of them—spoken in education circles byyour school administrators,colleagues, or professional organizationleaders in recent years, months—or just inthe weeks since this school year began.In the August 2010 issue of 
TheLanguage Educator 
, we presented twoarticles about teaching languages to theMillennial Generation—the students inour classrooms today. Over the past year,we have also featured several teachers inthe magazine who have shown particularexpertise in using the latest technologies tobring language and culture to life for theirstudents. From October 2009 throughFebruary 2010, in the four-part series“Getting Connected in the 21
Century,”we highlighted the methods used by LeslieDavison, Toni Theisen, Roberta Lavine,and Laura Franklin—exemplary languageeducators teaching at all different levels—who have embraced the use of tech toolsto enhance their students’ learningexperiences. While most people agree that use of and familiarity with new technologies iscertainly an important aspect of what itmeans for today’s Millennial students to beconsidered true “21
century learners”—it is not the only factor.In fact, the skills, knowledge andexpertise that students must master tosucceed in work and life in this new eracan be summed up in six key elements of a 21
century education as described inthe Framework for 21
Century Learn-ing, developed by the Partnership for 21
 Century Skills (
).The Partnership, or P21, is a nationalorganization advocating for 21
centuryreadiness for every student. ACTFL is cur-rently partnering with P21 to create a “21
 Century Skills Map for World Languages,”which will provide educator-created ex-amples of how subjects in world languagescan be fused with skills to create engaginglearning experiences that promote 21stcentury knowledge and skill acquisition.The languages skills map will be ready for aworkshop review at a session at the ACTFL Annual Convention and World LanguagesExpo in Boston, MA, on
Saturday, Novem-ber 20
(11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., SheratonHotel/Fairfax B). It will also be presented atthe ACTFL Assembly of Delegates, as wellas to the National Association of DistrictSupervisors of Foreign Languages and theNational Council of State Supervisors forLanguages, where further input will besought. It is expected that the final versionwill be released in February 2011, in con- junction with
Discover Languages
 
“core subects and 21
centur nterscpnary emes. . .
“critical thinking and problem solving. . .
ion literac. . .
lie and
  
and cross-cultural skills. . .”
su ems student mastery. . .
a ov s. . .
 
ewor for 21
Le. . .
on circles by school administrators,es,or proes nzatonleaders in recent years, months—or just inthe weeks since this school year began.In theAugust 2010 issue of 
,we presented two nlanuaesura Franklin—extors teaching at allwho haveembraced t
e uto enhance th
r students’ lexences.
 While most people agrand familiarity with ncertainlyanimpo means forco
Century Skills Are Crucialfor All Students
 ACTFL Creating Languages Skills Map with P21 Organization
Understanding the Framework 
P21 has developed a unified, collectivevision for 21
century learning meant tostrengthen American education throughtheir Framework for 21
Century Learning[for a visual representation, see sidebar]. Theelements described as “21
century studentoutcomes” are what students need to achievesuccess in the 21
st century.First, these include:
Core Subjects and21
Century Themes
. There are nine coresubjects identified in the Framework—notably World Languages among them. Alsoincluded are English, Reading or Language Arts; Arts; Mathematics; Economics, Science;Geography; History; and Government andCivics.Mastery of these core subjects with21
century themes is essential, accord-ing to P21. Schools must move beyond afocus on basic competency in core subjectsto promoting understanding of academiccontent at much higher levels by weaving21
century interdisciplinary themes into thecore subjects. Of great interest to languageeducators is the theme of Global Awareness,which focuses on:
century skills to understandand address global issues
-oratively with individuals represent-ing diverse cultures, religions, andlifestyles in a spirit of mutual respectand open dialogue in personal, work,and community contexts
cultures, including the use of non-English languagesOther interdisciplinary themes includeFinancial, Economic, Business, and Entre-preneurial Literacy; Civic Literacy; HealthLiteracy; and Environmental Literacy.
Learning and Innovation Skills
, anotherimportant element of the Framework, arewhat separate students who are prepared forincreasingly complex life and work environ-ments in the 21
century and those who arenot. They include Creativity and Innovation;Critical Thinking and Problem Solving; andCommunication and Collaboration. We all recognize that people in the 21
 century live in a technology and media-driven environment, marked by access to anabundance of information, rapid changes intechnology tools and the ability to collabo-rate and make individual contributions onan unprecedented scale. To be effective inthe 21
century, according to the P21 Frame-work, citizens and workers must be ableto exhibit a range of functional and criticalthinking
Information, Media, and Technol-ogy Skills
, such as Information Literacy;Media Literacy; and ICT [Information, Com-munications, and Technology] Literacy.Of course, today’s life and work environ-ments require far more than thinking skillsand content knowledge. The ability to navi-gate the complex life and work environmentsin the globally competitive information agerequires students to pay rigorous attentionto developing adequate
Life and CareerSkills
, such as: Flexibility and Adaptability;Initiative and Self-Direction; Productivityand Accountability; and Leadership andResponsibility. Another of these, Social and Cross-Cultural Skills, is again of particular interest tolanguage educators. It includes the ability to(1) interact effectively with others (i.e. knowwhen it is appropriate to listen and when tospeak, and conduct one’s self in a respectable,professional manner) and (2) work effectivelyin diverse teams (i.e., respect cultural differ-ences and work effectively with people froma range of social and cultural backgrounds;respond open-mindedly to different ideas andvalues; and leverage social and cultural differ-ences to create new ideas and increase bothinnovation and quality of work).There are now 15 “P21 Leadership States”where a 21
century skills perspective hasbeen embraced in educational planning,including: Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas,Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts,Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio,South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Framework for 21
Century Learning
of 21
century teaching and learning that combines a discrete focus on 21
century student
of them in the 21
century.The key elements of 21
century learning are represented in the graphic and descriptions
century skills student outcomes (as represented by
century skills support systems (as represented by thepools at the bottom).While the graphic represents each element distinctly for descriptive purposes, the
centuryteaching and learning.These elements are the critical systems necessary to ensure 21
century readiness for
-sional development and learning environments must be aligned to produce a support systemthat produces 21
These states design new standards, assess-ments, and professional development programsthat ensure 21
century readiness for every stu-dent. To become a P21 Leadership State, a statedemonstrates commitment from the governorand chief state school officer, and submits anapplication to the Partnership that describesthe state’s plan to fuse the three Rs and four Cs(critical thinking and problem solving, com-munication, collaboration, and creativity andinnovation) within standards, assessments, andprofessional development programs.“We’re working with states across theboard on issues related to standards, as-sessment, curriculum, and instruction andlooking from a state perspective at what arethe most effective ways to support this kind of teaching and learning at the systemic level,”says Valerie Greenhill, director for strategicinitiatives for the Partnership. “That meanstaking a look at whether the state standardssupport 21
century skills, whether there issufficient professional capacity to deliver thiskind of instruction, what kinds of instruction-al models need to be supported at the districtand school level, and what kinds of assess-ments should be supported at the state level.”
Creating a Skills Mapfor Languages
 While all these buzzwords and conceptssound exciting in theory, “one of the mostcommon questions we get about 21
centuryskills from policymakers, educational lead-ers, and practitioners is:
What does this looklike in the classroom?
” notes Greenhill.The P21 Skills Maps, which have beencompleted in some subjects and are under con-struction in others—like world languages—aremeant to focus on specific content areas and toprovide a clear picture of what it looks like tointegrate 21
century skills in a core academicsubject classroom at three different levels (gen-erally fourth, eighth, and twelfth grades).Currently, the P21 website features com-pleted skills maps in arts, geography, science,social studies, and English. [Greenhill pointsout that a skills map is not the same as a cur-riculum map—another phrase with whicheducators are familiar.] Each skills map isstructured as a matrix, where along the leftside is each specific 21
century skill (e.g.,Productivity and Accountability) and a defini-tion. Running down the center of the page arethree vertical columns representing differentgrade levels. What occupies the cells of thismatrix are examples of outcome-based lessonsthat are designed to produce the skill in ques-tion. “It’s a five or six sentence description of an activity that might occur in a fourth gradeEnglish or an eighth grade geography classthat would be likely to produce or instill criti-cal thinking skills or creativity skills in thatstudent’s experience,” says Greenhill. When the Partnership needed to cre-ate the skills map for the core subject of world languages, they turned to ACTFLto collaborate with them on the project. Acommittee of language education expertswas formed, made up of Chair Toni Theisen,French teacher in Loveland, CO, and worldlanguages coordinator for Thompson SchoolDistrict; Lynn Fulton-Archer, Spanish leadteacher at Richmond Drive ElementarySchool in Rock Hill, SC; Martin J. Smith,supervisor of world languages & ESL/BE atEdison High School, Edison, NJ; ThomasSauer, world language specialist for Jeffer-son County Public Schools (KY); and HelenSmall, specialist for foreign languages at the Virginia Department of Education. Direc-
Millennials Rising 
many of the youth trends America is seeingtoday. In
Millennials Rising 
charged than the teen culture older people are producing for them.
could emerge as the next great generation.
discussion of generations, and the Millennials in particular, based onthis very popular book. Autographed copies of 
Millennials Rising 
, click onMembership
Millennials & K-12 Schools
Millennials & K–12 Schools
, is
. In it, theauthors explain the generational shifts
parents, and teachers, and offer hands-onstrategies to help school leaders and per-
Continued on p. 26 

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