Transforming Learning through 21st Century Skills: The Who Took My Chalk? Model for Engaging You and Your Students,
By Lydotta M. Taylor and Jill M. Fratto
Foreword by Bob Pearlman: Letter to a 21st Century Teacher
I see your challenge. Your note to me makes it clear that you know
the world is changing dramatically, and you worry that your students are
not getting the knowledge and skills they will need. You say you have
read Friedman, also some Dan Pink, and recently saw a great animated video
of a speech by Sir Ken Robinson on creativity. You just learned that students
from Shanghai surpassed all other countries worldwide on the latest PISA
exam of 15-year-olds. And you agree with Friedman who tells his own daughters
an updated version of the old eat-your-supper-children-are-starving story:
"Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for
You say that your district has been obsessed with meeting state standards.
You have worked with the standards and know they are good, but also that
the state tests measure basic content knowledge at best. You worry that
these standards and even the new Common Core standards, which most states
are adopting, are not enough and that your students, even if they master
them and do well on the state tests, will still not have the knowledge
and skills to compete with students all over the world. They won't have
critical thinking. They won't have collaboration. They won't have communication.
They won't have creativity. And more.
You realize that you will have to expand your curriculum so that your
students will experience and then master these 4Cs. You realize you will
also need to create classroom assessments, what some call performance
assessments, to give feedback to students so they know how they are doing
and can become more self-directed learners. There are a lot of new skills
that you will have to develop professionally, and you could use some help.
A few school districts have done a lot to define and implement 21st
century learning and teaching. These districts provide supports to teachers,
including training, coaching, and professional learning communities, and
even align their human resources and compensation systems to support these
developments. But most districts are either at the beginning of this journey
or are not on this path at all.
This poses quite a challenge to you and other teachers who may not
have either district-based or school site-based supports for 21st century
learning and teaching. But you are determined, nevertheless, to design
learning experiences for your students that will engage them and ready
them for the work and life in the globally competitive world of the second
decade of the 21st century. You are determined to transform your own classroom.
You are also willing to collaborate with colleagues to transform your
school and even your district.
Authors Lydotta Taylor and Jill Fratto of the EdVenture Group have
written this excellent book to pilot you on this journey. They have created
a practical guidebook to help you hone your ability to make these changes
using their Who Took My Chalk? model, a multiphase training program
designed specifically for educators to help you set the stage for adapting
to 21st century learning in your school.
There is much to be done and that you can do, say Taylor and Fratto.
You can recognize the need or desire to change; assess your school culture
and your personal attitude; set and achieve 21st century goals; communicate
clearly to colleagues, parents, and sponsors; predict possible roadblocks;
engage internal and external support; make it real in your classroom;
and create and finalize your plan for success.
For Taylor, a former teacher, and Fratto, a management consultant,
making it real in your classroom is the ultimate goal, but they know well
it takes more than new pedagogies to produce a sustained transformation
of teaching and learning even in a single classroom. It also takes clear
goals, communication, school culture, and support.
Twenty-first-century teaching and learning aims to produce engaged,
self-directed, and self-assessing learners. Taylor and Fratto provide
excellent examples and resources to support this classroom change. This
country is also rich with great practice that evolved in the last decade
of the past century and the first decade of the new century. Innovative
school models like New Tech Network, Big Picture, High Tech High, Envision
Schools, EdVisions, and Expeditionary Learning have blazed the trail,
and groups like the Buck Institute of Education and the George Lucas Educational
Foundation's Edutopia have provided valuable resources and tools.
As teachers it is our own version of a Hippocratic Oath that makes
us do what is best for our students to prepare them for their futures.
Let's be ready to do 21st century teaching and learning together with
all our colleagues at our school or in our district, but let's also get
started and get it right for our own kids in our own classrooms.
Bob Pearlman is a 21st century school and district consultant. He is the former director of strategic planning for the New Technology Foundation, former president of the Autodesk Foundation, and a classroom teacher for 27 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and http://www.bobpearlman.org.