In the seventh #21for21 episode of Competencies without a Classroom, we chat with the incredible Laura Heyes. She is a fifth-grade teacher in Ontario and an advocate for technology in the classroom. With over 15 years of experience teaching, she is passionate about the use of 21st-century skills in the classroom.
What can you borrow from Laura for your classroom to help teach 21st century skills?
Laura acknowledges that teachers are often torn between having to report on content and curriculum expectations, and knowing in their hearts that they need to be developing core competencies in their students. Her answer - why not both?
A majority of schools in Laura's experience have learning skills or character education in their school. At Laura's school, they have the effective team members, reflective thinkers, independent learners, self-regulated learners, and the engaged participants. Beneath these titles are 21st-century skills like critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.
Laura draws from this language in her classroom discussions so it becomes second nature to students. She includes one of these titles in every assessment that she does, right in the rubric. While rubrics can often be content-based, Laura takes it one step further and includes a learning skill. She co-creates these rubrics with students and encourages them to help identify what these skills will look like, sound like and feel like.
Laura describes this language as ‘alive’ in the classroom. As her students are working, she will call on those who are showcasing core competencies and allow them to describe what exactly they are doing to their classmates. Through this practice, students begin to understand the skills they need to develop and how they can apply them to the tasks they are working on.
Reflection Prompts for Your Students
Use the prompts below to have your students reflect on what they heard in the episode and consider how Laura's advice can be applied to them.
- Using the language your school uses to identify learning skills or character education, highlight three learning skills. One you feel you are strong at, one you need to work on, and one that you have witnessed a peer showcasing in the classroom.
- Laura emphasizes the importance of critical thinking and goal setting as the cornerstone of 21st-century skills. What is one goal you set for yourself in the classroom today? This month? This year? Explain your plan for how you are going to achieve that goal.
- Portfolio assessment is a great way to showcase 21st-century skills. Pick a piece of work within your portfolio (or digital portfolio) and identify 2-3 learning skills you are showcasing in that work. What element are you most proud of? What would you like to work on moving forward?
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.