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21st Century Skills

21st century learning, or the 21st Century Skills movement as it is commonly known1, refers to a
growing global movement to redefine the goals of education, to transform howlearning is practiced
each day, and to expand the range of measures in student achievement, all in order to meet the new
demands of the 21st Century.
The movements driving question is, What do students need to learn to help them succeed in our
times ? personal, societal, and economical success.

1 The Need of 21st Century Educational Goals

2 21st Century Learning Methods

2.1 The Project Bicycle Frame and Components

3 Benefits of 21st Century Skills
4 Challenges
5 Notes
6 References


Need of 21st Century Educational Goals

In todays classroom, the students have diverse backgrounds, a variety of achievement levels, and
different learning styles which will all affect their ability to acquire knowledge. Teachers need to move
away from the traditional methods of teaching and bring into the classroom new and innovating
approaches to teach the content and lifelong skills. It is important to utilize a variety of techniques for
the children to build their own understanding through real world applications and interactions with their
peers in group activities. To be productive contributors to society in our 21st century, you need to be
able to quickly learn the core content of a field of knowledge while also mastering a broad portfolio of
essentials in learning, innovation, technology, and careers skills needed for work and life (Trilling &
Fadel, 2009, p16). Teachers need to prepare students for the jobs that have not yet been created, for
the new products that have not yet been invented, and for the new skills to build towards creativity and
Though there are timeless skills and knowledge important for success in any age
(language literacy, problem solving and initiative for example), what was needed to be a skilled person
in 19th century agrarian society (including brawn power and using horse power) differs dramatically

from the expertise needed to be a well-educated and capable 21st century citizen (including brain
power and using hertz power - computing and digital tools).
Arising from a number of efforts across the globe to define the essential knowledge, skills and
dispositions needed for our increasingly information driven and technologically powered societies 2,
21st century learning proponents advocate an expanded set of educational goals, as in
the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) learning framework3: The Partnership for 21st Century
Skills is a national organization that advocates for the integration of skills such as critical thinking,
problem solving and communication into the teaching of core academic subjects such as English,
reading or language arts, world languages, arts, mathematics, economics, science, geography, history,
government, and civics (2009, p. 9). P21 Leadership States: The following states build on educational
plans and projects to improve and align education to 21st Century skills. Arizona Alabama Arkansas
Alaska Hawaii Illinois Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Massachusetts Nebraska Nevada New Jersey
North Carolina North Dakota Ohio South Dakota Texas West Virginia Wisconsin

In this model, the rainbow above represents the goals, standards, or intended outcomes of learning
for 21st century students, and the pools below indicate the learning supportsystems that enable the
goals to be met.

Framework for 21st Century Learning The Framework for 21st Century Learning consists of core
subjects and themes that revolve around three core skills: life and career skills, learning and innovation
skills, and information media, and technology skills. These are the skills that students need in order to
be successful in the 21st century. The core subjects include: English, Reading, Language Arts, World
Languages, Arts, Mathematics, Economics, Science, Geography, History, and Government and Civics.
In addition to the core subjects, schools must integrate the 21st century interdisciplinary themes in the
daily instructional activities. The themes consist of global awareness, financial, economic, business,
entrepreneurial literacy, civil literacy, health literacy, and environmental literacy. The pools underneath
the rainbow represents the paradigmatic shift towards supporting 21st century learning,
understanding, and skills performance (Trilling & Fadel, 2009, p. 120). The pools consist of
standards and assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development, and learning
The learning goals include traditional core subject knowledge areas (in green), such as social
studies, math, science, language, etc.; interdisciplinary and contemporary thematic expertise (also in
green), such as environmental, health, financial and civic literacy; and three sets of essential skills (in
gold, purple and red), applied to the learning of content knowledge:

The learning support systems represented by the pools below the rainbow, are the typical services and
operations of an educational system: learning standards and assessments, curriculum and
instruction, professional development of teachers and leaders, and the learning environment for

The first category of 21st century skills focuses on learning and innovation skills. This includes, critical
thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, and creativity and innovation applied
imagination and invention. Teachers must create meaningful and authentic assessment and activities
that promotes higher order thinking skills. Students must gain the knowledge to ask and answer
important questions, to critically review what others say about a subject, to pose and solve problems to
communicate and work with others in learning, and to create new knowledge and innovation that help
build a better world (Trilling & Fadel, 2009, p. 49). Creating, applying, remembering, analyzing,
understanding, and evaluating can all be used together in rich, well-designed learning activities and
projects to improve the effectiveness and longevity of learning results (51). Similarly, teachers must
intertwine lifelong skills and content within the design of the units, activities, and lesson plans that are
taught within the classroom.
The second category consists of digital literacy skills. This includes information literacy, media literacy
and ICT (information and communication technologies) literacy. With todays and tomorrows digital
tools, our net generation students will have unprecedented power to amplify their ability to think, learn,
communicate, collaborate, and create (Trilling & Fadel, 2009, p. 64). Teachers need to also,
incorporate technology into the classroom. Technology is used to supplement traditional resources in
the classroom and engages the students. By including technology into the daily classroom activities it
not only motivates learning, it builds self-esteem, can provide immediate feedback, can provide
learning beyond drill and practice and it can address various learning styles as well as help build
learner strategies (Mansoor, 1999, p. 6). The computers can also be used to reinforce key concepts
and integrate interactive games into the lessons. Using technology will strengthen students skills and
abilities to acquire information in which it will provide an array of information that goes beyond the
traditional textbook and class notes.
The third category focuses on career and life skills. This includes flexibility, adaptability, initiative, self
direction, communication, social and cross-cultural interaction, productivity and accountability, and
leadership and responsibility. The ability to work effectively and creatively with team members and
classmates regardless of differences in culture and style is an essential 21st century life skill (Trilling &
Fadel, 2009, p. 80). Likewise, teachers need to prepare the students for a world beyond the classroom
in order for them to become successful in all aspects of their lives. Also, leadership and responsibility
provides lots of opportunities to take responsibility and exercise leadership-skills important to future
employers (85). Teaching students responsibilities will strengthen their work ethic when they have a
job or career. They will be prepared and be confident when they are seeking for job opportunities. It will
continue to help them succeed in the job market and learn even more skills.


Century Learning Methods

Equally important to 21st century learning is the application of learning science research and principles
to learning methods and the design of learning activities, projects, assessments and environments.
Principles of effective learning important to 21st century education practitioners include 4:

Authentic learning - learning from real world problems and questions

Mental model building - using physical and virtual models to refine understanding

Internal motivation - identifying and employing positive emotional connections in learning

Multi-modal learning - applying multiple learning methods for diverse learning styles

Social learning - using the power of social interaction to improve learning impact

International learning - using the world around you to improve teaching and learning skills.

A particularly effective learning method that incorporates these principles are group learning projects
driven by an engaging, real-world questions or problems. These inquiry- and design-based,
collaborative learning projects5 are a powerful learning method especially suited for building the
essential 21st century skills-and-knowledge listed in the rainbow model above.
Students in well-designed and managed learning projects often produce artifacts (reports, models,
simulations, presentations, inventions, videos, etc.) that can be evaluated for both understanding of
content knowledge and the proficiency level of a range of 21st century skills. Students collections of
projects, often placed in structured electronic portfolios, can provide rich evidence for
increasing competence and achievement over time.
Students should also be globally and culturally aware. Teachers must integrate this into lessons so that
they can teach their students skills they will need for getting job or starting a career. In many schools,
teachers teach their students a concept and test them, but they ask questions in another language.
Usually the language is one that is very much used and is becoming more well known. A lot of
business is done with Japan, and also a lot of Spanish speakers are coming to the United States so
those would be language that could benefit the students.


Project Bicycle Frame and Components

One learning method that incorporates 21st century themes and skills is the project learning bicycle.
Students in well-designed and managed learning projects produce artifacts-reports, presentations,
videos, podcasts, models, simulations, inventions, part of their projects work (Trilling, 2010,
p. 44). When carefully looked at the handle bars represent driving the project forward and the frame
represents both the student and teacher cooperating to create a meaningful project. The gears
represent the tools used in the project. For instance, the students may have used computers,
websites, digital media or other forms of technology in their project. The wheels represent a continuing
process of defining, planning, reviewing, and doing. Overall, the goal is a rich learning experience that
blends knowledge understanding, and solid performance on many of the 21st century skills (101).
Thus, it gives the students the opportunity to express themselves and think outside of the box while
demonstrating their talents.
An important new concept in education is that literacy is always changing, and with that you need to
adapt to new methods of teaching. Instead of just teaching students how to read and write, you need
to be sure they are literate in technology as well. Teaching students about technology should be part of
the curriculum.
A factor that displays 21st century skills within a classroom is to use a variety of hands on activities on
many different subjects.


of 21st Century Skills

Systematic integration 21st century skills and content benefits the students in the following areas:
linguistically, socially, cognitively, and academically. Linguistically, students benefit by being able to
learn lifelong skill in meaningful, authentic ways through challenging content. To further elaborate this
point, "the content of each lesson must be taught simultaneously with the linguistic skills necessary for
understanding it" (Cantoni-Harvey, 1987, p. 22; Snow et al., 1989, p. 202). Additionally, the integration
of content and skills benefits students socially. Language is learned most effectively for
communication in meaningful, purposeful social and academic contexts. In real life, people use
language to talk about what they know and what they want to know more about, not to talk about
language itself (Snow et al., 1989, p. 202). The students are able to communicate the content among
their peers and be able to use it in their everyday lives. Also, the students benefit from the integration
of 21st century skills and content cognitively by using reasoning and problem-solving skills to promote
higher level thinking. This will obtain to the extent that higher order thinking skills require more
complex or elaborate language skills in more cognitively demanding tasks (215). The use of higher
order thinking will gain the students interest in the content when related to real life situations. This will
enable them to think outside of the box and move up the latter in achieving higher levels of proficiency.
Academically, most students will benefit from the integration of content and skills to survive in the
world today. Students will gain a plethora of knowledge to understand and solve real-world situations
using the 21st century skills.
Teachers may design a curriculum around a themed-based approach in order to incorporate 21st
century skills into the content areas. This will allow students personal interest is brought into the
classroom while focusing on higher order thinking skills. Themes that may be used for a unit are
political issues within the community, pollution, recycling, or even broader topics. The theme must be
very interesting to students and must allow a wide variety of language skills to be practiced, always in
the service of communicating about theme (Oxford, 2001, p. 4). By relating the content to real life
situations the students will be engaged and motivated to learn and take action in their road to success.
By posing open-ended questions and posing intriguing problems engage childrens imaginations and
help motivate them to explore, discover, create, and learn (Trilling & Fadel, 2009, p. 94). By applying
skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity to the content knowledge-increases
motivation and improves learning outcomes (50). The students will have the opportunity to express
their viewpoints and take action in their own learning. It deeply engages students in their learning,
goes beyond memorization to meaningful understanding, and results in large learning gains for
students with a wide range of learning styles and backgrounds (Trilling & Fadel, 2009, p. 104).

Teachers must utilize a variety of methods for the children to build their own understanding through
real world applications interactions with their peers in many cooperative group activities. Life is a
multimedia event, and the meanings that we secure from life are not simply contained in text; they
yield their content through a wide variety of forms (Eisner, 2002, p. 154). The students need to have a
deep understanding for the real world in order to become successful individuals and be more
technologically enhanced.
Students need to become more globally literate because many jobs are now more focused on those
issues. Students need to know more about the world, think outside of the box, develop better people
skills, and become smarter about selecting news sources. To do this it is important for teachers to keep
up with the times and create a modern curriculum. One of the best ways to achieve global literacy is
through communication, collaborative learning, research, and problem solving. Technology helps
tremendously in these areas, so it is a great tool to use in the classroom. Not only that, but it will help
the students to find more relevance in school as well.

As educators shift from the traditional school methods of the lecturing and note taking, there is a need
not to use technology as a means of supplemental education, but truly integrated. Simply stated: using
a computer to take notes instead of using paper is no different. However, using software as a means to
collect and analyze data would be one way to integrate technology into educational practices.
Achieving a new balance of learning practice that supports an expanded set of learning goals and a
broader definition of student success is a significant challenge to often change-resistant educational
systems around the world. The interlocking support systems of education - standards, assessments,
curriculum and instruction, professional development and learning environments - all have to shift
together to provide a solid infrastructure for 21st century learning.
Schools, districts, provinces, and entire national education systems are successfully moving toward a
21st century learning model, motivated by the need for an educated workforce and citizenry capable of
meeting the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century with some work and a lot of effort from
the government.

Basic Skills
Reading: Identify relevant details, facts, and specification; locate information in
books/manuals, from graphs; find meaning of unknown words; judge accuracy of
reports; use computer to find information.
Writing: Write ideas completely and accurately in letters and reports with proper
grammar, spelling, and punctuation; check, edit, and revise for accuracy and
emphasis, use computer to communicate information.
Mathematics: Use numbers, fractions, and percentages to solve problems; use
tables, graphs, diagrams, and charts; use computer to enter, retrieve, change, and
communicate numerical information.
Speaking: Organize and communicate ideas clearly; speak clearly; select language,
tone of voice, and gestures appropriate to audience.
Listening: Listen carefully to what person says, noting tone of voice, and other body
language; respond in a way that shows understanding of what is said.

Thinking Skills
Creative Thinking: Use imagination freely, combining ideas or information in new
ways; make connections between ideas that seem unrelated.
Problem-Solving Skills: Recognize problem; identify why it is a problem; create
and implement a solution; watch to see how well solution works; revise as needed.
Decision Making Skills: Identify goal; generate alternatives and gather information
about them; weigh pros and cons; choose best alternative; plan how to carry out
Visualization: See a building or object by looking at a blueprint, drawing, or sketch;
imagine how a system works by looking at a schematic drawing.

People Skills
Social: Show understanding, friendliness, and respect for feelings; assert oneself
when appropriate; take an interest in what people say and why they think and act as
they do.

Negotiation: Identify common goals among different parties in conflict; clearly

present the facts and arguments of your position; listen to and understand other
party's position; create possible ways to resolve conflict; make reasonable
Leadership: Communicate thoughts and feelings to justify a position; encourage or
convince others; make positive use of rules or values; demonstrate ability to have
others believe in and trust you because of your competence and honesty.
Teamwork: Work cooperatively with others; contribute to group with ideas and
effort; do own share of work; encourage team members; resolve differences for the
benefit of the team; responsibly challenge existing procedures, policies, or
Cultural Diversity: Work well with people having different ethnic, social, or
educational backgrounds; understand the concerns of members of other ethnic and
gender groups; base impressions on a person's behavior, not stereotypes;
understand one's own culture and those of others and how they differ; respectfully
help people in these groups make cultural adjustments when necessary.

Personal Qualities
Self-Esteem: Understand how beliefs affect how a person feels and acts; "listen" to
and identify irrational or harmful beliefs you may have; and understand how to
change these negative beliefs when they occur.
Self-Management: Assess your knowledge and skills accurately; set specific,
realistic personal goals; monitor progress toward your goal.
Responsibility: Work hard to reach goals, even if task is unpleasant; do quality
work; display high standard of attendance, honesty, energy, and optimism.

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21st Century Workplace: Skills for Success
Most Americans agree that the workplace is changing and that the skills necessary for
success in the 21st century workplace are different from those needed in the 20th century.
In his book A Whole New Mind, author Daniel H. Pink writes that we are "moving from
Information Age to the Conceptual Age" [Pink, 2005, p. 33]. He argues that the
workplace is
changing as a result of three factors--Asia, abundance, automation-and that to remain
competitive workers will need new skills [Pink, 2005, p. 46]. According to Pink "in the
Conceptual Age, what we need . . . is a whole new mind"--one that incorporates both
brain and left brain directed aptitudes (Pink, 2005, p. 51). Where the left brain is
"sequential, logical, and analytical," the right brain is "nonlinear, intuitive, and holistic."
notes that while the "defining skills of the previous era are necessary," they are "no longer
sufficient." Instead he argues, the "right brain qualities of inventiveness, empathy,
joyfulness, and meaning increasingly will determine who flourishes and who flounders"
(Pink, 2005, p. 3).
The Changing Workplace
Pink's findings concur with those of other experts and researchers who have studied the
changing workplace and the skills that will be needed for continued work success. The
enGauge 21st Century Skills notes in its report on Literacy in the Digital Age that
at the U.S. Department of Labor... assert, ?The influence of technology will go beyond
equipment and faster communication, as work and skills will be redefined and
" (enGauge, 2003, p. 8). The enGauge report asserts that "rapid change and increased
competition require that workers use their ?soft skills' to adapt quickly to changing
technologies and organizational structures" (enGauge, 2003, p. 8).
According to this study "As society changes, the skills needed to negotiate the
of life also change. In the early 1900s, a person who had acquired simple reading,
and calculating skills was considered literate. Only in recent years has the public
system expected all students to build on those basics, developing a broad range of
literacies. To achieve success in the 21st century, students also need to attain proficiency
in science, technology, and culture, as well as gain a thorough understanding of
information in all its forms" (enGauge, 2003, p.15).
The workplace and employer expectations have changed over time. "For businesses, it's

no longer enough to create a product that's reasonably priced and adequately functional. It
must also be beautiful, unique, and meaningful...," writes Pink [Pink, p. 35]. In addition
many jobs are being outsourced. "White collar work of all sorts is migrating to other parts
the world," Pink notes [p. 38]. "The main reason is money." Workers in other parts of the
world can do what American workers can do--only for less money. Automation is also
changing the workplace as we know it: Computers are now doing tasks better, faster, and
cheaper [Pink, 2005].
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"The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different type of mind,"
warns Pink [p.1]. Workers will need to build on the skills of the 20th Century by
mastering a
new and different set of skills in the 21st Century. "We must perform work that overseas
knowledge-workers can't do cheaper, that computers can't do faster, and that satisfies the
aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual demands of a prosperous time," writes Pink [p. 61]. For
example, "engineers and programmers will have to master different aptitudes, relying
on creativity than competence, more on tacit knowledge than technical manuals, and
on fashioning the big picture than sweating out the details," Pink writes. [p. 44-45].
In their book The new division of labor: How computers are creating the next job market,
Frank Levy and Richard Murnane argue that two categories of skills will be more valued:
"expert thinking--solving new problems for which there are no routine answers" and
"complex communication--persuading, explaining, and in other ways conveying a
particular interpretation of information" [Pink, 333].
Schools must prepare students for a different workplace--one that values innovation,
imagination, creativity, communication, and emotional intelligence [Pink, 233].
The 21st Century Workplace Skills
The enGauge report identified four skill clusters as essential to success in the 21st
workplace. These skills "were developed through a process that included literature
reviews, research on emerging characteristics of the Net Generation, a review of current
reports on workforce trends from business and industry, analysis of nationally recognized
skill sets, input from educators, data from educator surveys, and reactions from
groups. In addition, data was gathered from educators at state-level conference sessions
10 states, surveys, and focus groups Chicago and Washington, D.C." (enGauge, 2003, p.
The four skill clusters are:
Digital-age literacy, which includes the various competencies expected in a 21st
century workplace.
Inventive thinking, which includes the ability to think outside the box.
Effective communication, which is the ability to clearly communicate with a wide

range of audiences.
High productivity, which will be a requirement of success in the 21st Century
Mastering the Skills
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Within these skill clusters are a subset of skills and competencies that workers will be
expected to have mastered. EnGauge further defines the subset of skills for each skill as
Digital-age literacy encompasses:
Basic literacy: This is defined as the ability to read, write, listen and speak as well as
to compute numbers and solve problems.
Scientific literacy: This is defined as a general knowledge and understanding of
scientific concepts and processes.
Economic literacy: This includes an understanding of basic economic concepts,
personal finance, the roles of small and large businesses, and how economic issues
affect them as consumers and citizens.
Technological literacy: This includes an understanding about technology and how it
can be used to achieve a specific purpose or goal.
Visual literacy: This includes good visualization skills and the ability to understand,
use, and create images and video using both conventional and new media.
Information literacy: This includes the ability to find, access, and use information as
well as the ability to evaluate the credibility of the information.
Cultural literacy: This includes the ability to value diversity, to exhibit sensitivity to
cultural issues, and to interact and communicate with diverse cultural groups.
Global awareness: This is an understanding of how nations, individuals, groups, and
economies are interconnected and how they relate to each other.
Inventive thinking will be prized in the 21st Century and a successful individual needs to
develop and cultivate these essential life skills: (enGauge, 2003, p. 35)
Adaptability and managing complexity: This is the ability to recognize and
understand that change is a constant, and to deal with change positively by
"modifying one's thinking, attitude or behavior" to accommodate and handle this new
Self-direction: This is the ability to work independently, whether developing goals or
plans, managing one's time and work, or evaluating one's knowledge or learning
Curiosity: This is the desire to learn more about something and is an essential
component of lifelong learning.
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Creativity: This is the means of producing something new or original that is either
personally or culturally significant
Risk taking: This is a willingness to think about a problem or challenge, to share that
thinking with others, and to listen to feedback. It is a willingness to go beyond a safety

zone, to make mistakes, to creatively tackle challenges or problems with the ultimate
goal of enhancing personal accomplishment and growth.
Higher-order thinking and sound reasoning: The higher-level thinking processes
include the ability to analyze, compare, infer, interpret, evaluate, and synthesize.
Sound reasoning applies common sense and acquired knowledge and skills to
ensure good problem solving and decision making.
Effective communication is the ability to communicate with both individuals and groups
a positive manner. Effective communication involves: (enGauge, 2003, p. 47)
Teaming and collaboration: Teaming is a situation in which individuals share a
common goal, bring unique capabilities to the job of achieving, work in a structured
environment, and exhibit trust and respect towards one another. Collaboration is the
cooperative interaction between the members of the team as they work together to
achieve their goal.
Interpersonal skills: This is the ability to manage one's behavior, emotions, and
motivations to foster positive interactions with other individuals and groups. The
ability to effectively manage conflict is also an important interpersonal skill necessary
for success in the 21st Century workplace. These skills are exhibited both in
one-on-one situations and in emails, conference calls, and videoconferences.
Personal responsibility: Personal responsibility in the 21st Century workplace
requires one to understand the legal and ethical issues related to technology and to
mange and use technology in a responsible manner.
Social and civic responsibility: This requires that individuals use and manage
technology to promote the public good and to protect society and the environment.
Interactive communication: This requires that individuals learn to communicate
using a wide range of media and technology. They must select the most effective
method of communication for the intended audience and use it responsibly and
effectively to enhance the dissemination of information.
High productivity is expected of workers in the 21st Century workforce. Individuals need
master these skills if they are to be productive. (enGauge, 2003, p.59)
Prioritizing, planning, and managing for results: These organizational skills help an
individual achieve the goals that have been set through efficient management of time
and resources, effective problem solving, and strong leadership skills.
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Effective use of real-world tools: This requires that individuals master current and
new technology to communicate and collaborate with others, to effectively problem
solve, and to accomplish tasks. They must learn how to select the appropriate tools
for the task at hand and to apply these tools efficiently and effectively to achieve
Ability to produce relevant, high-quality products: This is the "ability to produce
intellectual, informational, or material products that serve authentic purposes and
occur as a result of students using real-world tools to solve or communicate about
real-world problems" (enGauge, 2003, p. 59).

Our changing workplace requires that all 21st Century workers master the skills required
a knowledge-society as well as the new skills necessary to move beyond the Information
Age into the Conceptual Age. The enGauge report identifies "three significant things that
need to occur if students are to thrive in today's knowledge-based, global society. These
are: (enGauge, 2003, p. 2)
The public must acknowledge 21st century skills as essential to the education of
today's learner.
Schools must embrace new designs for learning based on emerging research about
how people learn, effective uses of technology, and 21st century skills in the context
of rigorous academic content.
Policymakers must base school accountability on assessments that measure both
academic achievement and 21st century skills.
As the workplace changes and evolves, so must its workers if they are to be successful.
NCREL and Metiri Group. (2003). "enGauge 21st century skills: Literacy in the digital
age." Napierville, IL
and Los Angeles, CA: NCREL and Metiri.
Pink, Daniel H. (2005). A whole new mind: Moving from the Information Age to the
Conceptual Age. New
York: Penguin Group.
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21st Century Skills
Classroom Application
21st Century
Workplace Skill Examples of Application in Social Studies
Digital-age Literacy
Basic, scientific, economic,
and technological literacies
Use understanding of statistical techniques, sampling bias, and population parameters in
simulated settings to
study the effects on outcomes. Analyze these factors in published scientific or economic
reports, and use
knowledge of statistical techniques to evaluate the validity of the reports' findings.
Visual and informational
Create an age-appropriate electronic portfolio of maps and other geographic projects, and
write a reflective essay
explaining how selected portfolio pieces reflect what they have learned about specific
Cultural literacy and global

Conduct analysis using demographic data in a geographic information system to analyze

voting patterns and
determine redistricting guidelines
Inventive Thinking
Adaptability/ability to manage
Create a high-quality digital map product, including data that has been gathered in the
local area, to submit to an
agency outside the classroom (e.g., national contest, local newspaper, community
Self-direction Create a culminating project that demonstrates content knowledge and
conceptual understanding in at least three
distinct content areas; project should demonstrate problem-solving ability and ability to
draw connections between
social studies content and real world settings.
Curiosity, creativity, and risk
Use a geographic information system to analyze information on soil, hydrology, and other
factors in order to choose
the best site for a sanitary landfill in an urban region, and prepare an informational video
to present findings
Higher-order thinking and sound
Using the Internet and digital libraries, identify and compare alternative, sustainable
economic activities in regions
of significant resource depletion
Effective Communication
Teaming, collaboration, and
interpersonal skills
Create a public awareness campaign to encourage product recycling in order to reduce
the amount of refuge that is
deposited in the local landfill each week.
Personal, social and civic
Collect, analyze, and comply data that reflects current political candidates position on
pending legislation and
future agenda as a public service tool.
Interactive communication Prepare an informative oral presentation that evaluates
alternative land use proposals using various presentation
tools (e.g., multimedia slide show) and incorporating spatial data and maps.
High Productivity
Ability to prioritize, plan and
manage for results
Employ more complex problem-solving methods to develop a deeper understanding of
the planning and
management of a construction project (within certain material & budget constraints).

Effective use of real-world tools Formulate, approach, and solve problems beyond those
studied using a variety of problem-solving tools such as
graphing calculators, probes, GPS, and geometry tool software.
Ability to produce relevant, high
quality products
Use data and maps prepared in a geographic information system to compare and analyze
alternative land use
proposals and communicate conclusions using such tools as html, advanced multimedia
applications, and video
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21st Century
Workplace Skill Examples of Application in Language Arts
Digital-age Literacy
Basic, scientific, economic,
and technological literacies
Choose a social issue or controversy that has been a subject of protest songs. Primary
sources (print, digital, or
community resources), research an aspect of the issue to use as background in writing an
original protest song or
Visual and informational
Create a visual representation (any media) of life combining family interviews and
historical significant events.
Cultural literacy and global
Analyze the portrayal of bosses in popular media (comic strips, TV comedies, dramas,
movies), identifying
stereotypes found and identifying the kinds of "real life" bosses that are not included.
Inventive Thinking
Adaptability/ability to
manage complexity
Create digital videos that present a persuasive argument that calls for social action or
community change.
Self-direction Create and produce a DVD or website promoting personal responsibility.
Curiosity, creativity, and risk
Develop a "Frequently Asked Questions" type research paper (that explains a topic
thoroughly, based on likely
questions about the subject) as a webpage.
Higher-order thinking and
sound reasoning

Evaluate information found on the internet to distinguish between information and

propaganda, satire, or
commercialism on the Internet.
Effective Communication
Teaming, collaboration, and
interpersonal skills
As a team use video cameras and editing software to create a DVD of a collaboratively
written play.
Personal, social and civic
Maintain a generative self-reflective journal (either print or online) that is utilized and
referenced throughout the
development of a project or unit that has social and or civil implications. For example
researching the legal, moral,
health, and social consequences of lowering the legal drinking age to 18.
Interactive communication Select and organize abundant materials (digital and print)
according to the basic principles of information
management. Read and understand the organizational efforts of others. Students can
demonstrate this by creating a
substantial web site of personal portfolio materials that is not only easy to navigate and
read at the interface level, but
also organized and understandable at the file-management level.
High Productivity
Ability to prioritize, plan and
manage for results
Participate in an online interactive debate with student panels and evaluator-experts.
Effective use of real-world
For a selected topic, evaluate the accuracy, relevance, appropriateness,
comprehensiveness, and bias of electronic
information sources.
Ability to produce relevant,
high quality products
Create digital videos that present a persuasive argument that calls for social action or
community change.
8 of 9 10/25/07 4:52 PM
21st Century
Workplace Skill Examples of Application in Science
Digital-age Literacy
Basic, scientific, economic,
and technological literacies
Read and evaluate technical information about measuring instruments for the purpose of
deciding which instrument
is the most economic for the job.

Visual and informational

Develop a graph to illustrate the optimal amount of fertilizer and pesticides for maximum
crop yield from tables of
experimental data.
Cultural literacy and global
Investigate the impact of genetic engineering of crops on global and local food
production, and populations.
Inventive Thinking
Adaptability/ability to manage
Devise a strategic plan to network all the company computers. At the last minute a
division is added. You changed
design to a wireless network to accommodate the additional computers.
Self-direction Research a scientific problem by writing grants and supporting the
Curiosity, creativity, and risk
Conventional belief is that stomach ulcers are created by excess stomach acid. You
observe a certain type of
bacteria in all stomach ulcers and suggest that the bacterium is the cause of the stomach
ulcer. Colleagues laugh
at you and you lose grant support. Years later, antibiotics are standard treatment for
stomach ulcers.
Higher-order thinking and
sound reasoning
Cancer drugs work by killing cancer cells. You have an idea that by cutting off blood
supply to the tumor, you kill
the tumor. You find the chemical signal to make blood vessels grow and devise a drug to
block the chemical signal.
Effective Communication
Teaming, collaboration, and
interpersonal skills
A team designs a new candy. The candy is tested by the sensory and marketing
departments. The design, sensory,
and marketing teams meet and recommend changes in the candy formulation.
Personal, social and civic
Test and analyze results of local water systems. Share the results of an investigation of
water quality with
neighboring communities in order to increase public awareness.
Interactive communication Design an educational software site to aid in teaching specific
content material. Run a beta test program with
teachers. Analyze and incorporate the suggestions from the teachers into the program.
Run a beta test again and

make the necessary changes. Continue with the design cycle until desired results are
High Productivity
Ability to prioritize, plan and
manage for results
Create a report for local authorities highlighting the pros and cons (E.G. economic,
personal, and scientific factors)
of long term storage of radioactive waste materials.
Effective use of real-world
Run a computer simulation and design an aircraft wing. Build a scale model and test the
wing in a wind tunnel.
Repeat cycle several times until the wing design uses 5% less fuel.
Ability to produce relevant,
high quality products
Design a new computer operating system that runs on a wide variety of computers, adapts
to new hardware easily,
and boots up very quickly.
9 of 9 10/25/07 4:52 PM
21st Century
Workplace Skill Examples of Application in Mathematics
Digital-age Literacy
Basic, scientific, economic, and
technological literacies
Research, graph and analyze school attendance and the effect it has on the school and the
Visual and informational literacy Use physical and digital models to demonstrate
mathematical concepts. Research, design, and create model of a
safe playground for a day-care center.
Cultural literacy and global
Use online bulletin boards to engage in discussions of math concepts with people
(students and/or experts) from
around the world; demonstrate tolerance and respect for the points of view of others.
Inventive Thinking
Adaptability/ability to manage
Provided with a salary, setup a workable budget for living independently as an adult.
Self-direction Create a culminating project that demonstrates content knowledge and
conceptual understanding in at least three
distinct content areas; project should demonstrate problem-solving ability and ability to
draw connections between
mathematics content and real world settings.
Curiosity, creativity, and risk

Use graphing calculators and probes to collect and analyze environmental data (e.g., pH
of streams) or contextual
data (e.g., speed of cars in school zones).
Higher-order thinking and sound
Develop an audience-appropriate presentation that uses analysis, interpretation and
display of data and related
inferences to describe the situation and possible solutions for the speeding cars in a
school zone.
Effective Communication
Teaming, collaboration, and
interpersonal skills
After researching community needs/restrictions, design and layout the dimensions for a
community multi-purpose
entertainment center.
Personal, social and civic
Use estimation to determine the reasonableness of an answer and use word-processing
software to explain the
process. How soon will the local landfill be full based upon the property availability
dimensions and the rate of
refuge deposited weekly?
Interactive communication Design a presentation to sell the multi-purpose entertainment
center concept to an entrepreneur for financial
packing. Include startup, construction cost compared to potential revenue generated.
High Productivity
Ability to prioritize, plan and
manage for results
Employ more complex problem-solving methods to develop a deeper understanding of
mathematics, such as
simulating a construction project (within certain material & budget constraints).
Effective use of real-world tools Select and research a stock listed on the New Stock
Exchange. Estimate the projected outlook and profit margin,
track, document, and offer rationale for its gain or loss over a period of time.
Ability to produce relevant, high
quality products
Design a cost effective efficient container to mass produce for industry according to
specific requirements.