In our 11th #21for21 episode of Competencies without a Classroom we sat down for our first dual interview of the season with two middle school educators based in Pennsylvania, Josh and David. For the past three years, they have combined forces within their school to create a learner-centred, competency-based program called Project Wonder.
Project Wonder is a school within a school, developed with a learning model for the 21st century that meets each learner where they are, and gives them the skills to be successful beyond their education. With the help of each other, the students, parents, and teachers, Project Wonder continues to develop and share their successes and failures along the way.
At the heart of the school within a school is the idea of a ‘profile of a graduate’. Developed by and for students, parents, and teachers - it is a vision of what a graduate should be able to do to be ready for a global marketplace. In other words - what skills and competencies should students need to display evidence of in a portfolio upon graduation.
What can you borrow from Josh and David for your classroom to help teach 21st-century skills?
Rather than a traditional class schedule, Josh and David reform each student’s day around ‘a profile of a graduate’, all through prioritization.
At the start of each day, learning targets are set in the place of a class schedule. After being informed of the day’s learning targets, each student can plan out their day - thinking about, their progression, what they need to accomplish, and what they want to accomplish.
By following this model, their day becomes more engaging as students can take what they are most passionate about and find ways to make connections to the learning targets that are set out for them.
What 21st- century skills are being developed?
Through this model of agenda-setting, students learn the valuable skill of prioritization and the ability to better understand their process of learning. Each day they assess their needs and wants and find a balance between what needs to get done, and what they want to get done.
Self-reflection is also learned through the ability to guide oneself and make personal decisions. Each day every student asks important questions like “why this or that?” and “why would I do it this way?”. They are then able to advocate for their learning process and the importance of pursuing their passions.
Reflection Prompts for Your Students
Use the prompts below to have your students reflect on what they heard in the episode and consider how Josh and Dave’s advice can be applied to them.
- If Dave were the Superintendent of his school, he would focus on making sure every student understands the process of learning. Thinking about your personal learning style, how do you go about learning a new skill or concept? What works best for you?
- On the contrary, through personal experience, you are likely to have made attempts to learn new skills or concepts in ways that do not work well for you. Think of a scenario in which you experienced a form of failure in attempting to try something new, how were you able to learn from that instance? What skills did you take away from this failure?
- If Josh were to have his own billboard, it would simply say “why?”. Referring to the importance of self-advocacy and understanding why you make the decisions you make. If you were to set an agenda for your day, what are you choosing to work on and why? What skills are you striving to develop through this decision?
Yearning for more? You’re in luck! We’ll be speaking to educators all month long about #21for21 and the development of 21st-century skills in the classroom. Join the fun and head over to futurereadyclassroom.com to sign up for episode recaps, lesson plans, and chances to win some awesome prizes.
- Follow Dave on Twitter
- Follow Josh on Twitter
- Read Daves book recommendations - Holes, Bridge to Terabithia, or A Wrinkle in Time
- Read Josh’s book recommendation Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
- Try out the Fearsetting exercise
- Read Think Again by Adam Grant