21st century learning requires teachers to be cognizant of the changing technology as well as the ever changing skills that will required in order to participate in it. Gone are the days where lectures and worksheets dominate the teaching classroom. Project based learning that require communication, collaboration, and problem solving (just to name a few) are the teaching concepts of the future. That means that teachers will have to adjust their teaching and assessing in order to give the student the necessary skills for tomorrow.
In the TED talk with Tony Wagner, he mentions the need to reinvent the system of education, not just reform it. Technology has made knowledge free and widely available. Therefore, it is not important anymore to memorize facts and figures, what is important is “What you can do with what you know”. He then lists 7 Core Competencies that businesses across the globe identified as important.
Critical thinking/Problem Solving – From global warming to economic and political upheavals, tomorrow’s’ citizens will face problems on a global scale that will need to be tackled.
Collaboration across networks/leading by influence – As we are connected by social media and tools that allow us to collaborate on the global scale, today’s learners need to effectively navigate working in groups to solve problems.
Agility and Adaptability – As technology continues to advance and change at a rapid pace, today’s students need to be able to learn and adapt to new tools and devices.
Initiative/entrepreneurship – The internet has allowed anyone and everyone to innovate and monetize almost every aspect of our world and culture.
Effective Oral Communication – With the upcoming demographic shift, (minority will be the majority in 2020) it is important for the leaders of tomorrow to effectively communicate with a wide range of cultures and demographics.
Access and Analyzing Info – We are in an age of information overload. Future citizens will need to have a analytical and discerning eye for sussing out relevant and accurate information.
Curiosity and Imagination Technology opens up a new world of tools and ideas, yet individual need to have the imagination and open mindedness to continue to push the envelope and innovation.
Of these skills, I feel that Critical Thinking as well as Collaboration are two of the most important skills for today’s students. A love of problem solving as well as a way to critically think for solutions are skills that will be utilized in all areas of future professional careers. Also, because we all have deficiencies in certain areas, it is essential that students learn to collaborate to come up with the best possible solutions to problems. Those two skills also have many other skills encompassed within them. For example, if you are effectively problem solving in a group, you are probably also analyzing info, using effective oral communication and using imagination.
Of course, while all these skills are great in theory, teaching, and more importantly, assessing them can be challenging. In his blog, Will Richardson created a grid with different skills and the difficulty in assessing them.
So the question becomes, how do we account for those difficult to assess skills like curiosity, resilience, courage, etc? While there is no one exact way to account for these skills. Perhaps they answer is in self reflection. By making students cognizant of their own learning process by self reflecting, we can encourage those hard to reach skills. I find most students will be honest with you and with themselves in the type of work that they are capable of.
In the new Connecticut Common Core Music Assessment for Singing, student are asked to sing and record their voice into a recording device. Students are then asked to self-assess using a rubric. The teacher also assesses the student using a different rubric. While this assessment already has a technology component (recording device) it can be elevated using online rubrics such as ForAllRubrics combined with Edmodo so that students can record and keep their recording and assessment as a sort of online portfolio. I’ve written previously about them here. Using rubrics to have students self assess is the best way for students to grow and develop 21st century skills.
Since I’ve written about these items before, I wanted to add some technology that would be useful for students to develop independence in their musicality.
Before they are able to fill out the rubrics and self assess, they need to have prior knowledge:
- Students should have an understanding of the key music vocabulary (see student Self-Assessment Form) and concepts included in the task.
- Students should be familiar with the knowledge and skills contained in this assessment and be familiar with the steps of the Performing process in the Three Artistic Processes model.
- Students should be comfortable singing by themselves. Solo singing should be a regular part of instruction.
- Students should be comfortable singing into a recording device.
- Students should be able to follow along with the notation of a familiar song, so that they can identify in which measure a singer might have made an error.
While teachers will have to actively go over key vocabulary on how to evaluate a performance as well as the key elements of the artistic model, technology can help with three bolded elements above. A program such as Smartmusic, allow teachers to upload music into their program. The students can then sing into a microphone attached to a computer and not only will the music follow along for where the student should be, it will also given feedback on any wrong notes or rhythms throughout the piece. At the end of the recording, the program will highlight all the wrong notes and give a score on their singing. Because it is online, Smartmusic can be used in the classroom and at home. This allows the student who is not comfortable singing by themselves to practice in a more comfortable environment. Using Smartmusic can allow students to take initiative in their own learning as they can practice as much as they would like. They are analyzing the data received from the program in order to make corrections in their performance. There are also free vocal solos that are accessible if the student seeks them out. They will even develop practice strategies such as:
- Slow down the tempo.
- Keep a steady beat.
- Repeat problem measures.
- Tune up.
Using this program, students can take charge of their own learning if they so choose.
21st century skills require innovation from teachers to create new lesson that encourage independent learning and thought. Collaboration, problem solving, as well as many others, are key skill for our future citizens. We as teachers need to encourage these skill in all ways possible, whether through technology or without.