In the sixth #21for21 episode of Competencies without a Classroom, we meet Rachelle Dene Poth, a teacher who does it all. Not only is she a Spanish and Steam teacher (focusing on emerging technologies) for grades eight through 12. She is also a consultant, an attorney, and above all, a lifelong learner.
What can you borrow from Rachelle for your classroom to help teach 21st Century Skills?
Rachelle is helping her students develop 21st-century skills through the implementation of Project-Based Learning. In her Spanish class, Rachelle came to the realization that not everyone will go on to be language teachers, she pondered what else she could do to help them prepare for the future. The answer lies in Project Based Learning. In Rachelle's classroom, she told her students that they could focus their project on something that they are interested in, and she was not going to hover over them.
This allowed students to focus on a real-world problem that they were interested in and curious about. They gained independence along the way as they made their own decisions. Not only did her students build language skills, but they also built collaboration, creativity, problem-solving, and communication skills along the way.
Rachelle notes that she knew it was working when it became time for students to present their ideas. Not only were they engaged and spoke from personal excitement, but many students also shared that they stopped caring about the grade, and began to care about what they were going to learn next, where they could go next, and what they could do from there to put their ideas into action.
Through Project-Based Learning, students practiced 21st-century skills and were heavily invested in their own learning.
Reflection Prompts for Your Students
Use the prompts below to have your students reflect on what they heard in the episode and consider how Rachelle’s advice can be applied to them.
- Rachelle notes that as Superintendent, she would ensure that students showed evidence of self-reflection to graduate. Look at where you were when this school year began and where you are now. What personal strengths can you identify? What are some areas for growth that you hope to work on moving forward? What is something new that you took interest in this year?
- Through Project-Based Learning, students must identify some essential questions to guide what their personal project will focus on. Think about your own personal interests and curiosities. What is one real-world issue that aligns with your interests? List 3-4 essential questions that you wish to learn more about pertaining to that issue and how you can begin to tackle it.
- Rachelle lists various skills her students were able to develop through Project-Based Learning. Some include curiosity, collaboration, creativity, problem-solving, and communication. Identify one of these skills that you feel you excel at, how are you putting it into action? Additionally, identify one skill from this list you feel you need to improve on. How are you planning to do so?
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.
Did we mention something in this episode that you're struggling to find? Not to worry, all of the listed resources are linked below.
- Check out The Knowledge Society
- Read our blog post by Nicholas Provenazano on how to implement Project Based Learning
- Read Launch by John Spencer and AJ. Juliani
- Read Pure Genius by Don Wettrick
- Read Hacking Project Based Learning by Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy
- Read ISTE’s Reinventing Project Based Learning
- Check out PBL Works to learn more about PBL in the classroom
- Try out the Fearsetting Exercise by Tim Ferris
- Read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Find Rachelle online: