21st Century Skills & Language Arts, 4-12

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) have collaborated to create a framework that provides “teacher-created models for how 21st-century skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity” can be incorporated into language arts classes. This language arts curriculum map offers sample lessons that combine 21st-century skills with interdisciplinary themes such as global awareness and civic, economic, and entrepreneurial. The curriculum map gives specific student outcomes and provides models to increase student achievement in grades 4-12.

Here are a few examples:

  • Grade 4: After reading folktales and watching two or three cartoons, students might write their own contemporary version of a folktale and present it as a stop-motion or claymation film. This activity helps students learn how to communicate new ideas to others and demonstrate originality and inventiveness in their work.
  • Grade 8: To help learn financial awareness and literacy, students might conduct research to answer the question: "How much schooling do you need to get the kind of job you would like to have?" After investigating salaries, employment outlooks, and education or training requirements for their possible careers, students create a chart comparing their top three to five choices and write short personal essays explaining how these choices fit their goals. As a result of these tasks, eighth graders would begin to analyze and make complex decisions, learning to identify and ask significant questions to clarify points of view.
  • Grades 9-12: Teams of students might create a virtual field trip for elementary school students. In addition to creating a video and narration detailing the site, students would research background information and interview appropriate experts such as park rangers, tour guides, and historians. The students then would use a project management tool to organize tasks, assignments, and deadlines. Through this project, students would assume shared responsibility for collaborative work and demonstrate the ability to work effectively with diverse teams. They also would show creativity in planning an interactive experience for younger students.
A curriculum map has already been created for social studies. To view this curriculum map, go to http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/documents/ss_map_11_12_08.pdf.

Additional maps will be available for mathematics, geography, and science in 2009.

Additional reference links:
Partnership for 21st Century Skills

National Council of Teachers of English