Developing 21st-Century Learning Skills at ISB

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As the ISB Technology Integration Specialist, working with teachers to create authentic learning opportunities that leads to the development of core 21st-century skills is my goal. These skills include accountability, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, ethics, global awareness, along with problem-solving, productivity and self-direction, to name a few. Why are these skills such a necessity as students traverse through secondary school to university and eventually the workplace? Today's employers demand that individuals develop complex thinking and communication skills. The need for retention skills and content knowledge is outmatched by finding and analyzing information, making decisions and developing new ideas. Employees who have developed critical thinking, collaborative and problem-solving skills possess essential qualities needed in the 21st-century workplace. As a school, we are committed to developing learners that possess these increasingly critical qualities.

Teachers in the ISB community see the importance of infusing 21st-century skills into the classroom environment and assessment activities. One area we have been a big proponent of is visual storytelling. Students’ opportunity to share their knowledge of a topic through images, illustrations, and videos allows for a different modality to be used and focuses on creating authentic artifacts. Showcasing students’ work and allowing them to feel that what they are doing is important and worth sharing with an audience is a substantial motivating factor. Putting students in small collaborative groups to plan, produce and edit a visual slideshow or video helps develop many of the 21st-century skills required by employers today. Differentiating assessments using technology allows students to access a more significant amount of the curriculum, no matter their learning readiness. As Douglas Reeves states, designing learning experiences that accommodate 21st-century skills and meeting the needs of a wide range of learning styles and cultural backgrounds ensures learning success for all students.
Ryan Bollhorn, Technology Integration Specialist