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Getting to 21st Century Learning

Recently, Jody Britten spent some time talking with a group of school administrators from Indiana. The focus of their time together was on implementing the Common Core Standards and using technology to help engage students in the higher order thinking tasks embedded into the Common Core Standards.

As the discussion continued it was obvious that what they were building was a framework for 21st Century Learning. This framework was constructed on four pillars – Common Core Standards, authentic work, digital tools that inspire creation, creativity and collaboration, and 21st Century Skills like critical thinking.

This framework holds an exciting promise but in reality it was a little overwhelming to consider. As the group broke this framework down into manageable next steps that would begin a journey, Jody articulated a few steps to remember.

1. Use data!
Jody shared our D21 report with the group so that they could see how baseline data is essential to creating a sustainable 21st Century Learning Organization. Having access to baseline data across the 7 dimensions of 21st Century Learning is key. As Jody mentioned, you have to know what you are starting with and you need to have the data set that will allow you to continually monitor progress.

2. Plan for professional growth!
Jody shared a few case studies from our work here at Metiri that can offer insights into professional growth. From examples of teacher teams collaboratively designing new units of study for the Common Core Standards, to teacher leaders developing a definition of student engagement, Jody painted a portrait of how professional growth can look in the 21st Century. A big focus was on rethinking our use of time to allow teachers to work through asynchronous content before coming together as a team to work. Jody showed our 21st Century skills eBook series that provides teachers with research and strategies for each skill area. She also provided an overview of our AP21 tools that allow teachers to “see” Common Core Standards being implemented, access rubrics for 21st Century Skills, access rubrics for Common Core Standards, and document their scoring team’s progress in achieving interrater reliability using samples of student work.

3. Everyone has to change!
Jody shared reflections from her experiences with schools who are implementing the Common Core Standards. One constant was that everyone has to willing to change, visions from all stakeholders must align to encourage the creation of a 21st Century Learning organization. What happens in the classroom must be supported by policies and decisions that will sustain the vision.

4. Don’t just buy stuff!
At Metiri we are lucky to work with learning organizations all over the world. One challenge that we continually observe is the purchasing of tools that are either “one hit wonders” having a single use, or the purchasing of materials that sit in a closet. Buy tools that will support your vision of 21st Century Learning. Spend time and money on classroom innovations that align to your vision, your definition of student engagement, and your goals. Empower innovative practice in the classroom, and look for how cost savings from things like teacher-created digital textbooks can save money, support your vision, and improve student learning.

4. Start with the end in mind!
Always move towards your vision for 21st Century Learning. When the daily operations of learning organizations become the driving force and not your vision you may be loosing ground. Stay focused, draw connections, and create a dialogue throughout the organization that is focused on continual growth, progress, and revisioning. Jody highlighted Cheryl Lemke’s work with school districts around the country on creating a vision for 21st Century Learning across stakeholder groups. These dynamic visioning sessions, led by Cheryl, are really pulling districts into innovative thinking and the reimagination of school.

To talk with Jody about her work, visit her Our Team profile and use the contact form to send her a message or follow her on twitter @jodybritten