Thursday, March 5, 2009

21st-C Skills & Effective Lesson Plans

My friend Patrick Riccards blogs as Eduflack and today (Mar. 5) summarizes and endeavors to advance the debate on 21st century skills. He is correct in pointing out that skills have to be about knowledge and and that the two go together:

The debate over 21C skills should not be one between one set of curricular goals versus the other. This isn't core knowledge versus soft skills.

Riccards then goes on say that the need for students to have these skills (the ability to communicate effectively, critical reasoning, and so forth) necessitates certain teaching practices:

[O]ur focus should be on how we teach those core subjects that are necessary....How do we teach the social sciences in a manner that focuses on project-based learning and team-based activities?

This presumes that the effective way to teach the social sciences is project-based learning and group work. Perhaps it would be wiser to go topic-by-topic in the social sciences (and other academic disciplines). For each topic, teachers should have field-tested, proven lesson plans in which the learning approach is appropriate to the topic. Lesson plans that work -- lesson plans that are proven effective in getting the students to master the subject matter -- are what's needed. Students can only apply knowledge if they first have it.


  1. You make a good point. I completely agree that students can only apply knowledge if they first have it. And the name of the game is lessons that get the students to master the subject. The challenge, particularly with students today, is to keep their attention and demonstrate relevance. That means teaching those proven lessons and helping students acquire that knowledge through new learning challenges (i.e. technologies) and through methods other than a rows of desks neatly aligned. We need to spend time on HOW we teach those field=tested, proven lessons.

  2. The challenge therefore lies in how we craft lesson plans in schools.

  3. I think lesson plans that work for one class, may not work for another. It depends on the teacher, as well as the kid.