Enter the Faire (Spring 2017)
Goochland 21st Century Skills Instructional Framework is both a design for developing project-based instruction around the creation of a learning artifact or performance (product), and an initiative for planning and delivering projects in the classroom. Since 2008, G21 has been focused on developing more constructivist-based learning experiences for students and developing teacher skills to design and implement those experiences.
A new procedure
This school year, the new framework will be presented during a faculty meeting at each school by the director of innovation & strategy (John Hendron), with or without assistance from the technology coaches (Leiderman and Parrish). The goal is to include all teachers, provide more flexibility for the types of projects teachers pursue for their students, and to shift the roles for project design and oversight of the program. After the initial presentation, teachers will have options for completing at least one version of the framework alone or in consort with peers:
- fill out the form independently,
- make an appointment with the technology coach.
Upon completion, the project design must be approved by the building principal or assistant principal.
Format and Forms
A G21 project is nothing more than a design for good instruction based around a project-based lesson or unit of study for students. We ask that in a G21 that students create something, whether that be a physical object, a piece of digital media, or even a performance. Instruction therefore operates around the creation of this product, pulling in a number of skills educators and business leaders today are calling “twenty-first century” skills. These skills are not new, but the term certainly raises awareness of the skills business leaders today are saying students need more practice at developing.
The G21 project framework is a 3-page worksheet in PDF format. Using Preview on a Mac, the form can be completed and saved, and/or printed.
What are the twenty-first century skills?
In the past, we identified 12 twenty-first century skills that could be applied across the curriculum in just about any class, things like “communication, teaching others,” or “research 2.0 skills.” This year, we’ve adopted a new model for twenty-first century learning based on recent research into three main core areas:
- Foundation Knowledge
- Action Knowledge
- Humanistic Knowledge
It is our belief that a strong project pulls skills from each one of these areas.
Skills this area include core content knowledge and we have placed the following disciplines on the form:
- Social Science,
Skills in this area include the following skills focused on action and doing skills:
- Creativity and Innovation,
- Problem Solving & Critical Thinking,
- Teaching Others.
For our veteran teachers, these skills are not new.
This skill group is focused around inter- and interpersonal skills, including:
- Life/Job Skills (formerly called “real world skills”),
- Ethical and Emotional Awareness (formerly called “empathy”),
- Cultural Competence (New),
- Managing Time & Resources.
How is technology integration addressed?
As part of our training with our 1:1 program, we introduced teachers to Puentedura’s SAMR model that provides four levels of how technology can impact instruction. These levels are:
- Substitution: the technology used simply replaces the utility of something non-digital; reading a book online instead in a book, is an example.
- Augmentation: the technology replaces an analog tool, but it also offers some added benefit. A good example here is a multi-touch, digital textbook, that allows students to mark-up the book with highlights, create flashcards, or includes multimedia content for considering information in different ways.
- Modification: in this stage, the technology begins to re-shape what learning looks like because it offers added benefits in the tasks students undertake. For instance, in a writing assignment, being able to receive comments from multiple readers using a tool like Google Docs encourages additional layers of feedback and an opportunity for collaboration.
- Re-definition:: in this stage, new tasks are possible as part of the learning activities by having access to technology. Let’s say you want kids to learn more about poetry through writing a rap. With today’s technology, we can reframe this activity with tools like GarageBand to encourage professional-level fidelity and sharing online of a student’s song. Online, students can review each other’s work and share it with a worldwide audience. Technology in this case re-defines the audience for student creativity and likely increases student engagement with the task.
Within our G21 projects, we ask teachers to rate how technology will be used. There is also a space to articulate what types of technology will be used. Teachers can name application software, a crucial resource, etc. While the desire may exist for every teacher to mark an “R” in how they will be using technology, we want them to take an honest appraisal. Technology use should always foster greater efficiency, but we want our teachers to know how and when it can really impact benefits with instruction. We believe SAMR does an excellent job of illustrating this in an otherwise simple construct.
The importance of product
The previous framework focused on the creation of a student product. In many cases, students created the same products with individual differences. The new format gives more incentive for individualized products designed by students themselves.
Group products are something created as a team. Not all projects will have a group product. A project may involve the creation of a few group products, or just one.
Individual products are another option, where students each create their own unique product based upon your direction, their own design, or a combination of both.
Choosing a School-wide Theme
Schools are encouraged to consider a school theme to help teachers focus on a G21 project that ties into a school-wide need or interest. For SY 2014-15, school wide projects are not required, but are certainly encouraged.
Support with G21
Professional Development over the new format was presented during the “Operation Engagement” sessions this past August. New professional development workshops will be focused on:
- developing driving questions and using inquiry in PBL approaches,
- supporting PBL with reflection and feedback,
- planning a G21 3.0 project.
Because the new format is well-aligned with the Buck Institute model, we will utilize their free online resources in our support through workshops.
G21 Projects Make Better Teachers
Successful planning and execution of a G21 project is required for the highest rating in Goochland’s teacher evaluation protocol.
G21 Recognition Programs
In addition to our model for the G21 Faire to recognize teachers who develop superlative learning experiences for students, we want to expand the recognition arm for students with a G21 Student Exhibition. We will be developing this throughout the year as a showcase for students to enter the their project’s product for a more authentic audience of peers and community members.
SY 2013-14 G21 Faire Winners
- Jennifer Cosby, Goochland Elementary School for GES World Fair
- Anne Moore and Ann Rohrer, Goochland Middle School, for A Bird’s Eye View
- Jennifer Gates, Kelli Bratton, and Erin Yearout-Patton from Randolph Elementary and Goochland High Schools for Helping Hands
Our G21 Goals
Doing G21 projects takes extra time and effort. Again, “Why G21?” The program is an opportunity to engage students in a more progressive learning style built around project-based learning. And it’s an opportunity for teachers to stretch their skills in pedagogy by focusing on what we might call the “smart integration” of technology in teaching. G21 hopefully for everyone is a creative experience that goes beyond content standards by going beyond the Virginia Standards of Learning by engaging students and teachers with real-world skills.