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21st Century Skills - Competencies without a Classroom Podcast - Episode 8 Recap

S2 E8: Richard Byrne @rmbyrne
Griffin Jaeger
April 17, 2021

“people have a tendency to avoid things that are uncomfortable - do them, it'll make you better in the long run.”

In the eighth #21for21 episode of Competencies without a Classroom we sit down with Richard Byrne, who spent the first decade of his career teaching high school Social Studies. He then went on to spend 8 years as a consultant in schools across the US and Canada and now resides in Maine where he teaches high school computer science. Richard has a passion for the use of technology tools in the classroom, sharing his insights online.


What can you borrow from Richard for your classroom to help teach 21st-century skills?

Today’s high school students do not know of a world without google at their fingertips. For this reason, Richard focuses heavily on the modern skill of search in his classroom. In other words, getting students to go far beyond the first few pages of Google results to gain insight.

Richard stresses the importance of going beyond the first few pages in google’s search results and using different parts of technology and google’s search mechanism to find information. He does so through a classroom search challenge.

The process is simple. Take a big picture topic and ask your students ‘what do you want to know about this?’. Their creative and vastly different answers won’t often be found on the first few google pages. Richard then asks his students to go through both their inventory of info and their various search tools to find a conclusion of the question at hand, all through search. The key is to let them ask interesting questions that arent easily googled, then walk them through the steps of what they know and what they need to know to get their answer.

Through this process, your students will develop key critical thinking and curiosity skills, all through the power of search.

Reflection Prompts for Your Students

Use the prompts below to have your students reflect on what they heard in the episode and consider how Richard’s advice can be applied to them.

  1. Richard tells us about the importance of exercising every part of you - your body and mind. Practice goal-setting. How do you plan to exercise your mind today, and what is one way you will exercise your body?
  2. In this episode, we chat about managing and being aware of your own digital footprint, that is, your personal activity and traceable data online. Employers take interest in how your online perception reflects the values of their organization. What steps do you take to ensure that you keep a clean digital footprint? How do your passions and values shine through your online activity?
  3. Similar to Richard’s classroom exercise, think of a topic you are learning in class, or one you are curious about, then ask 1-3 creative questions. Practice your critical thinking and search skills by using the tech tools available to you to answer these questions. What conclusions did you come to?

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 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.
  • Read The Joy of Search by Daniel Russell to learn more about going beyond basic search
  • Learn and find more from Richard at
  • Subscribe to Richard’s Newsletter
  • Read Richards Daily Blog
  • Subscribe to Richard on Youtube
  • Follow Richard on Twitter
  • Google ‘Richard Byrne’ and practice your personal search skills!

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