I am a grateful and fortunate former educator, who was exposed to the Framework of 21st Century Learning at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson, Maryland! In fact, I helped managed a Business program that integrated Business Education and Information Technology (IT) for students in grades 9 through12. What an experience collaborating with some amazing students on innovative business lessons and IT based application projects!
In this blog I would like to share some of my thoughts on how students can apply 21st century skills during class and what my hopes are for our current students around the nation! I know that our new education reform, Common Core, has had mixed reviews. However, I support students being college and career ready which is the core objective of our new education reform. My main purpose in collaboration with our education reformers is to advocate for teachers and students in order to voice what I know can be effective for students based on my 7 years of teaching in a computer lab. My hope is to help assist Common Core and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills have a smooth transition for school systems nationwide. In fact, Common Core, PARCC, school officials, and other partners want to hear from us as parents, teachers, and students so we can take part in shaping our own communities by being active participants in developing our future workforce! Therefore, I would like to provide you with an overview of ways to empower our students to be globally competitive using the Framework of 21st Century Learning.
I. LIFE & CAREER SKILLS
My Personal Reflection:
I believe the most lasting impact I made as an educator was assisting my students to become more organized and accountable for their own success using technology. Goal setting and being consistent with my lessons was a great model for them because they were able to develop academic discipline that could be beneficial for the workplace. I tried my best to create relevant academic connections with each unit by either using the internet to interact with real world websites that students would either use as future consumers, merchants, investors, or household managers. Therefore, my business students were constantly using 21st century skills such as:
- Leadership and Responsibility – Working as interns or teacher assistants on projects that would help our school activities to be executed efficiently and effectively.
- Initiative and Self-direction – Experiencing Webquest projects that would prepare them for independent research on the college and career level.
- Flexibility and Adaptability – Quarter projects that include real world scenarios ranging from creating business plans to apps to solve problems relevant to individuals or businesses.
- Social and Cross Cultural Skills – Experiencing innovative team projects that included diverse learners collaborating in order to achieve a common goal through video presentations, entertaining skits, news broadcasts, talk shows, or sales demonstrations.
- Productivity and Accountability – Using a web management system such as Edline or PB Works increased productivity and positive outcomes for students’ academic performance with up to date grades as well as course material accessible 24-7 .
My Professional Projections:
Civic & Business Literacy for low and middle income students is vital for racial and social academic disparities in education. Therefore, increasing civil and business literacy will close the academic and career achievement gaps. I guarantee that it will reduce the amount of legal victimization cases as well as increase employability and financial literacy for society as a whole.
Target Goal 1: All students in grades 6-12 should be required to complete a series of Personal Law and Business Law courses. In fact, there should be an academic target for each grade. For example, grades 6 through 8 could focus on increasing reading comprehension skills through real world scenarios. This could be done by reading contracts or applications and reviewing technical writing in order to successfully purchase a brand new or used car using critical thinking skills.
Target Goal 2: All students should be required to take an Entrepreneurship course before graduating high school.
By eleventh grade, students should be challenged to enhance their creative and technical writing skills by developing a business plan. This real world project encompasses all of the academic skills learned in Kindergarten through tenth grade from Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, to Technology.
Target Goal 3: Execute learning opportunities for Financial Literacy that focus on planning for each phase of students’ middle to high school career by creating financial budgets for summer career camps, attending junior or senior prom, taking college courses, participating in academic competitions, and/or starting up a small business. Encourage students to be more involved in making responsible economic decisions with their birthday monetary gifts, allowances, or holiday funds! The overall objective for this life and career target is to have a financial literacy initiative for each grade level. For example, a required Principles of Insurance & Planning for Future Car Expenses unit for 9th and 10th graders, who are about to earn the privilege of driving.
II. 4 C’s: COLLABORATION, COMMUNICATION, CREATIVE & CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS
My Personal Reflection:
The 4 C’s encapsulates every skill that is needed to ensure our students will be an asset to any person, organization, or global community. Applying the 4C’s in my learning lab, I recall my students being project managers, accountants, teachers, event coordinators, editors, marketing managers, public speakers, computer technicians, programmers, consultants, entertainers, and entrepreneurs right before my eyes. We had a lot of memorable moments! That is what school is all about: Creating scenarios or situational events that will allow students to have on-the-job training and personal development while in school! Promoting leadership in creative ways for students to experience a task or a skill that they’ve never challenged themselves with before or giving them a chance to apply a skill they enjoy in order to influence them to make productive contributions to the class experience is definitely “21st century learning”! One thing I know for sure, a student will never forget a relevant or meaningful experience! As you can see, a teacher never forgets meaningful experiences either!
My Professional Projections:
Target Goal 1: Utilize the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiative in new and meaningful ways that will support life as well as career skills. For example, support home economics in order to increase academic achievement for girls to be more interested in STEM careers or support their future responsibilities of managing a home. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary trades such as Culinary Arts, Fashion, Interior Decorating, Carpentry, Cosmetology, and Mechanics could be a great addition to classroom activities which directly connects with Science as well as Mathematics. Think about the academic connections you can make and the teachers or industry workers you could team up with to implement the 4 C’s in your classroom!
Target Goal 2: Create in-house jobs for students to explore all of their 21st century skills with the help of business partners. School internships or being an outsource for local companies is advantageous to our future business leaders. In fact, I’ve interacted with ninth graders who could have been an asset to a company based on their skill set. So as education leaders, we have to strategically plan for career opportunities for our students to work on their career portfolios as early as middle school to be used in the future when applying for college or employment.
III. INFORMATION, MEDIA, & TECHNOLOGY SKILLS
Business Education, Telecommunications, and Information Technology projects will progressively change the way we execute lessons in our classrooms. Yes, schools are literally incubators developing our students to be prepared for the Information, Media, and Technology Age! Since Information Technology (IT) is the core infrastructure of businesses and how businesses stay competitive across the world, it is imperative that we expose students to developing their marketable talents using Business Education, Telecommunications, and Information Technology as early as elementary education! In fact, computer programmers are in high demand as well as media and technological skills are needed at every level of employment. We know this because as professionals we constantly use technology to enter data, manage databases, schedule meetings, analyze data, present at meetings, communicate through social media, and to train employees using video instruction in order to increase production or profits. We, also, observe various professionals using technology from the medical field to operating a hair salon. It’s just the way we do business and students should be developing these marketable skills now so they can be independent adults and productive professionals!
Check out this video on YouTube via www.code.org:
My Personal Reflection:
Applying Information/Media/Technology skills were the norm at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology. Therefore, my business students experienced the advantage of being current with global events and capturing real time corporate data such as stock pricing, interest rates on current banking products, or even car and house loan pricing for budgeting projects. Furthermore, I executed a wide range of information, media, and technology application projects. For example, my students actively participated in stock market games, federal spending research projects, corporate research, business news reports, video interpretations of content, and learning games using web applications that supported financial, business, and entrepreneurship literacy. These variety of skills really allowed my students to experience virtual reality, providing a sneak preview of what it felt like to be an adult or professional!
My Professional Projections:
Target Goal 1: Provide students with opportunities to become Microsoft Office Certified in Information System Management programs and Information Technology web applications.
Every middle school infrastructure should have a Business Education and Information Technology model in order for students to become professionally certified or receive college credit for taking proficiency exams. I truly believe middle school students need initiatives like this in order for them to feel as sense of accomplishment and as a result influence them to further develop in whatever core subject or 21st century literacy area they personally connect with as a future career. Here are a few sources that will be helpful for the middle and high school grades:
Microsoft Office Certifications – Middle Students should be certified in at least Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, and Outlook in order to have the effective skills to manage as well as operate a business.
Information Technology Certifications – High School Students should graduate with 1-2 programming languages so they will be able to become self-managers and diverse communicators when working on corporate projects.
Collegeboard’s CLEP Exams – High School Students can earn college credit and save money on college tuition as well as time sitting in a college course that may not be challenging to them, resulting in receiving a college degree faster.
Target Goal 2: Provide students with access to video editing and graphic design programs as well as media centers that will give them the technology tools they need to succeed as an entrepreneur or employee.
Performing and Visual Arts integrated with all content areas is a MUST! The Arts make learning so much more engaging and entertaining! Through telecommunication and video production, students can explore all aspects of the core subjects with a strong emphasis on reading, language arts, math, and science. When you instruct students to dive deeper with your content area encouraging them to plan, organize, and execute learning experiences by making connections to a variety of core subjects, you are assisting them with retaining empirical knowledge. Let’s use the 21st century learning core subjects for an example of how education leaders can make learning realistic, relevant, and right!
English, Reading or Language Arts – (1.)Writing commercial scripts for a local business new marketing campaign or (2.) Using social media and developing a video to produce a public service announcement about the latest school events.
Mathematics/Science – (1.) Producing an instructional video on how you can use algorithms in our daily lives or (2.) Learning computer programming techniques using Microsoft Excel or Access programs.
Economics – (1.) Creating a financial plan using Microsoft Excel and utilizing a scholarship app to support students with their search for funding their college experience; also, (2.) Originating a video documentary of the cost and benefits of executing a new Civil Rights Movement.
Geography/History – (1.) Developing a video game that allows you to plan for road trips across the United States in order to learn geographic terms and concepts or (2.) Producing annual plays about ancient African history and its cultural impact on every continent.
In closing, in order for all school systems to be globally competitive within the workforce, it should be required for students to be knowledgeable with using Microsoft Office applications, skilled with graphic designing programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Fireworks, familiar with video editing software, and proficient in 1-2 computer programming languages such as Java and C++. So here are a few programs you should consider for your school’s technology plan:
Please take a few minutes and view this video, “Learning Code is the Best Thing You Can Do This Year” via Elite Daily
I encourage you to use the websites and videos in this blog to continue your journey making the necessary technological changes that will equip students for a successful life beyond the classroom! If you are interested in learning more about my professional workshop concepts that are included in this blog, please feel free to purchase my eBook, “Can I Inspire You With My Imagination?” to read a sample of what topics I could cover for your organization. Thank you and I hope that you are ready for this wonderful New Year, 2015! Great events are approaching for you and me! Happy New Year!!