PDI-7: 21st Century Skills
Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Location: Philadelphia Marriott Hotel, Room 405
Science Area: Biology/Life Science
Intended Audience: High School
Recommended Pathway Sessions
Center for Science Education, Education Development Center, Inc.
Jackie Miller, Education Development Center, Inc.
Irene Baker, Education Development Center, Inc.
Marian Pasquale, Education development Center, Inc.
- What are the 21st Century Skills and why are they critical for students to master?
- How can teachers analyze and assess the Skills they currently employ with their students?
- How can teachers better integrate these skills into their science investigations and curriculum?
In its report Tough Choices or Tough Times (2006), the National Center on Education and the Economy issued a dire warning about the potential consequences from the poor preparation American students receive in their education today. If the United States is to compete in a changing global economy, our students must have a very high level of preparation in reading, writing, and speaking, and in the basic disciplines of mathematics, science, literature, history, and the arts. But content alone is not sufficient; they must also be comfortable with ideas and abstractions and be skilled in analysis and synthesis and in creative and innovative thinking, be self-disciplined and organized, work well in a team, and be flexible in pursuit of their goals.
The call for skills development and integration into American education echoes the importance placed on "thinking critically and logically about relationships between evidence and explanations, constructing and analyzing alternative explanations, and communicating scientific arguments," as stated in the National Science Education Standards. These important components of learning are also exemplified in efforts such as the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which was created in 2002 to "serve as a catalyst to position 21st century skills at the center of US K–12 education by building collaborative partnerships among education, business, community, and government leaders" (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004, p.9). The Partnership advocates strongly for instruction of critical thinking and problem solving, communication, creativity and innovation, collaboration, information and media literacy, and contextual learning skills.
21st century skills are implicitly required as part of the inquiry science experience, but they are never explicitly taught to students. The lack of explicit instruction of these skills hampers students’ ability to become fully engaged in and learn from inquiry science instruction.
Although inquiry skills and 21st century skills have obvious similarities a distinction is often made between them. In this Professional Development Institute we will examine 21st century skills, their integration into the content of instructional materials, and how they support student development of science concepts. Participants will experience and examine 21st Century Skills through the lens of science investigations and will have the opportunity to apply these skills to their practice. There will be a combination of hands-on activities and reflective discussions.