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21st Century Skills - Competencies without a Classroom Podcast - Episode 1 Recap

S2 E1: Bonnie Nieves - @biologygoddess
Eric Do Couto
April 13, 2021

In the first #21For21 episode of Competencies without a Classroom podcast, we interview Bonnie Nieves, a biology teacher and author of an upcoming book, Be Awesome On Purpose.

Content Creation for 21st Century Skill Development

Consider turning quizzes in class and ask students to create visual representations of the same concepts from the quiz. The content a quiz would assess and ask students to show what they know through an infographic, meme, poster or other form

The concept of asking students to submit and create visual representations of the concepts they'd normally write a quiz for, allows students to make connections and reasoning from the material that may not have happened otherwise. Bonnie suggests changing around the parameters of the assignment to suit the needs of the teacher. For example, Bonnie might provide specific words that students should use in their visual representations to narrow their focus - or - she may even provide the image that they use.

What 21st century competency or skill is being developed?

Students develop their communication skills - creating visual representations of concepts learned in class allows them to learn how to effectively communicate their ideas outside the typical quiz format. Students are expected to 'give' versus 'taking' a test.

21st Century Skills - Rapid Fire Questions:

Q: What's the one competency that, if Bonnie were the superintendent of a school board, every student would learn?

A: Critical thinking. Bonnie uses the example of Media Literacy. In the 21st century, students will either become consumers or creators of content. Critical thinking helps determine the difference.

Q: What's one life skill each student should learn in high school?

A: Empathy.

Q: If you could post anything on a billboard for everyone to see, what would it be?

A: What is the best thing about your day?

Q: Which would you prioritize, EQ or IQ?

A: EQ.

Q: What's your favorite book or the one you wish you read before you turned 18?

A: Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Q: If you have a magic wand, what is one thing you would change about K-12 education today?

A: Promoting students based on their age. "You go when you're ready." 

Reflection Prompts for Your Students

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

  1. Bonnie says that if she were superintendent, all students would be required to demonstrate evidence of critical thinking. Why do you think this skill is important in the 21st century? Give an example of when you use critical thinking outside of school.
  2. Bonnie shares that media literacy will be an important 21st century skill and that people will take on the roles of consumers and creators. Consider a passion you have. What about this passion drives you and how could you turn this into becoming a creator? Consider a specific area related to your passion or the steps you could take.
  3. In the podcast, Bonnie suggests replacing visual representations in place of traditional quizzes as an exercise to develop communications skills. Find a recent piece of school work you did and try creating a visual representation of it in an infographic, meme or poster format. Did you find this more or less interesting to work on versus the way the work was done originally? What did you learn from it?
  4. Empathy was suggested as one life skill that is critical for students to learn in school. What does empathy mean to you? Share a time when you displayed empathy for someone else.
  5. Consider what media literacy means in the 21st century. If you were in charge of designing a course around media literacy what would it look like? What would you want students to do to prove their understanding of media literacy?

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