21st Century Skills
Team 1 - Pre-K
We defined this birth through five. We focused on the individual learning plan. In order to do that it is essential to work with the community and do some face to face assessment. If it is possible to start in the first months of life, we could work with the nurse practitioner to meet with the parents and give them some literature about education. We could partner with child development, libraries and day care centers.
We would encourage families to keep their native languages and bring the founts of knowledge of other cultures into the schools.
Make available one year of pre-school education and we would partner with communities to make sure that education is there. That curriculum already exists and prepares children for kindergarten.
We talked about active vs. passive learning and how much technology is appropriate. Should a child be looking at a screen as opposed to playing on the floor?
In our timeline shown here. Here is a list of our partners. Next year we’d like to have a comprehensive education plan to distribute to the community. We have a professional development plan in place already and in the next three years we could create a resource packet or backpack to distribute. It would be great for the district to do a website for early childhood development.
By 2015 we’d like to have an early childhood hotline where parents could find out about information and resources. It would be great to have an academy for early pre-school kids. In 2018 we’d like to have a home visit for the first month of life.
The first hurdle is staffing, then money, we’d need public support and maybe partnering with a foundation.
Team 2 – Pre-K
There are some similar themes. The categories at the top are what we were asked to answer. The most important ones was the encouragement to play and to express in language. If the parents don’t come to you, then you have to go to them. There are already established pre-schools so we could team up with them and provide materials so that the student would be ready for school.
We agreed that the technology piece in that it needs to be age-appropriate. Just because we have the capability doesn’t mean you have to use it. Balance is important.
The stages and steps we have outlined here. We have to identify funding sources. This is a program that is unfunded and we have to establish how important it is. We identified which departments would be responsible for it.
The number one hurdle is universal buy-in. We need to show why this is important. We can show how a child who is read to has a great advantage and those that haven’t had that never catch up.
We need to run a successful funding campaign. We need accountability and sustainability.
Team 3 – Elementary School
We struggled a bit. We decided that the learning experiences were already part of our elementary school system. We might have to train our staff and make the programs more experiential. You still have to teach them skills because you can’t wait for them to reach that sudden a-ha about how to read or write. We could bring in community speakers; such as bringing in an electrician to speak about electricity instead of one of us.
We need to make this more intentional and comprehensive across the district. We need buy-in. There are several people in our community who are not already in the mindset of this. They don’t have kids, their kids have been out of school for 30 years. They see kids working in the convenience stores who don’t know how to make change, or add, have terrible penmanship and they are going to think we need to teach more core content rather than this. So we have to get this buy-in.
This is our main hurdle. We have a lack of diversity in our community and this will pose a problem in making this really work.
Team 4 – Elementary School
This group was really unique. We were a group of parents; everything we talked about came from that lens. Just keep that in mind.
We couldn’t overemphasize the importance of teachers in the influence of our kids. You remember the good teachers you had and especially remember the bad ones. We really focused on the importance of the teacher-student relationship.
We want to work with this ILP stuff. We want the 21st century skills. We want to bring the parents in to have a half an hour with the teacher to develop a curriculum for our child. We don’t know if that’s possible, but we’d like it.
We need to determine the requirements that will produce 21st century teachers. We want to reward our top performers. The teachers who are great we want to show them the recognition they deserve; perhaps a bonus. This works in the business world so why not here?
The hurdles is money so we need to see some improved private fundraising. We need to help our PTO’s raise money. The assessment piece might have some resistance from the teacher’s union. Parent participation is also a hurdle.
Q: Some parents want to know what the students are learning each day and from a first grader sometimes this is difficult. Some teachers have websites with the lesson plan. Is that possible to put all plans on a website?
A: For the Spartan team, we email all the parents the lesson plans, tests, topics, and that works well for the parents.
The communication piece is really important at the elementary level because they can’t express in the same way as the older kids.
Sometimes the weekly newsletter doesn’t have the education information but more the sports results.
Annette: Put that on the parent communication survey. We look at all of those and will adjust accordingly.
From an elementary school perspective, if the teacher is technologically savvy then it’s easy but if he or she isn’t, there’s a big difference in communication.
I send out emails to parents and I’ll get a call a week later and hear from them that they haven’t even checked their email.
Team 5 – Elementary School
We focused on the content and skills in and out of the classroom. The students need to know how to ask questions. We want to encourage that. We talked about that it’s okay to fail and how to fail fast. We want them to experiment and be willing to try things and learn from those experiences.
We want to take advantage of learning from our communities. We want job shadowing for our teachers too so they can bring things back into their classrooms.
The major steps are staff development, furthering community relationships and the state of NE continuous improvement model. Everybody is involved in this, from the students to teachers, parents and community.
Our hurdles are systems change, the NE administrative code and allocation of resources. Maybe we just need a redirection of funding. .
Team 6 – Middle School
We talked about the professional development of teachers. A lot of times there is not buy-in from the other teachers. Like the technology issue, teachers can end up on either side of that equation.
We talked about research, accountability and evaluation by students. This could give some valuable feedback to the teachers to improve their classes. We have some challenges listed out here.
Group 7 Middle School
We talked about many of the same experiences that you’ve already here. When you look at community support we wanted to have the upper seniors and juniors to have some input and help out with the middle school.
There is the college bound kids and the ones who aren’t. This is a big gap and we need to take care of that challenge. Community support is essential. We need to bring people in. A child at that point, you can have a personal plan going into school but perhaps it will change afterwards.
We debated curriculum or not and I think we decided yes. The rigor and relevance need to be in there. Many people felt that middle school was a waste of a couple of years. We think you need to start being a community citizen.
The hurdles are sustainability of the plan. We need to make those are relevant to make sure there is some continuity and to get the parents involved.
We need to be flexible and innovative.
Group 8 – high School
The key thing is building a development plan for each student. We need participation and increase of use of academics. We spent a lot of time on service projects because they give a lot of opportunity for multi-disciplinary learning. We would want to have a diversity of participants. This doesn’t have to be just for people interested in the skill trades. This way leadership skills could also be evaluated.
We would have a statement of needs, evaluate the kinds of skills that are needed, then sell the plan to the group. The plan can be intellectual or physical. Not everyone is going to build a house, maybe it is to build a website.
Group 9 – High School
We talked about implementing the 21st century skills and looked at the stages of rolling it out. The main point is that this is students first. We will develop the PLO, implement and review it. How about we took 100 students who have a PLP and then build the high school around them instead of trying to get them to fit into our schools. We had two students in our group luckily and they emphasized that active learning makes all the difference in the world.
The hurdles are consistent with what we’ve seen already: teachers roles and responsibility, money and resources and overcoming traditional education culture. We know money is an issue and we don’t expect our teachers to do more than they’re already doing, which is a lot. We will need to compensate them and provide learning opportunities.
We need to just do it!
Group 10 – High School
We would allow students free reign to choose their senior projects. We talked about a digital portfolio and discussed when it starts. We recognize that there needs to have professional development. This is an outstanding opportunity to develop a curriculum for that.
We want to students connected with the community and it doesn’t have to be a service oriented project but whatever they choose. One of the hurdles is how will it operate.
Group 11 – High School
The students know they get math and English and they don’t realize they’re getting other skills because we don’t make a big deal out of it. We want to make the student accountable for these things. With the digital portfolio they can pick and choose the skills and match them where you have proved them over your high school careers. Once they prove it they can get out of high school. Evidence-based graduation.