Friday, March 27, 2009

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

I have been exploring the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website (, and I am overwhelmed by all the information it contains! I looked at this site a couple of years ago, and I was surprised by how the site has grown.

My first stop was the Route 21 area ("Welcome to Route 21," 2007). I began by browsing their resources ("Browse resources," 2007). There are 568 items listed, and I quickly realized that it would take days to explore them all. The first one listed, the 21st Century Information Fluency Project (, is packed with ideas and lessons for teachers and students to improve their information literacy. The activities I explored are very engaging. I went to the Action Zone and tried a couple of Search Challenges. I gave up before I found what Kermit was saying, but I solved the Optical Illusion Challenge. I want to return to this site and explore the toolkits on searching, evaluating websites, and ethical use.

Another treasure I found was West Virginia's Teach 21 website ( They have created Instructional Guides (2009) that can be searched by subject and grade. The guides contain detailed lesson plans for units of study that incorporate 21st Century skills. This is another site that will take some time to explore.

I spent some looking through the articles and press releases on the home page. I agreed with many of the sentiments expressed there. Because I am very busy with graduate work, my job, and my family, I do not keep up with current events the way I should. I enjoyed reading the highlights ("The partnership’s statement on President Barack Obama’s education plan," 2009) and transcript (Montopoli, 2009) from President Obama's March 10, 2009, speech on education. I am not as informed about his education policies as I should be, but I thought he had some good ideas for education. Fully funding No Child Left Behind, rewarding teachers who make a difference, creating flexible schedules for students and teachers, removing bad teachers from the classroom, infusing 21st century skills, and expecting more from teachers, parents, and students all sound like a step in the right direction. I wonder how he is going to find funding for these ideas in today's economic crisis, but I am pleased with his emphasis on 21st century learning.

The information provided by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is very practical for teachers and students. The online tools could form the framework for a teacher's professional development plan for several years. The activities can enhance teachers' knowledge of 21st Century Skills, but many activities are also appropriate for use with students. The only drawback to the site is the sheer magnitude of the resources. Teachers may turn their back on these resources because there is so much to wade through, especially if one is looking for some specifice resource. This is all the more reason that I should begin the very lengthy toolkit on effective searches!


Browse resources. (2007). Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved March 28, 2009 from

Instructional guides. (2009). West Virginia Department of Education. Retrieved March 29, 2009 from

Montopoli, B. (2009, March 10). Obama's remarks on education. CBS News Political Hotsheet. Retrieved March 28, 2009 from

The partnership’s statement on President Barack Obama’s education plan. (2009, March 11). Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved March 28, 2009 from

Welcome to Route 21. (2007). Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved March 28, 2009 from


  1. Jeanne, Great job on the post. I like how you have included hyper links to the resources that you site in your post.
    I too felt overwhelmed by the large amount of information on the site. The Route 21 was a great resource on the website. I was excited to find that there were so many resources available for teachers. I searched for lessons that might help me in my classroom and found 98 resources that might apply to ELL. That is much less than the 568 that are listed. Since the information provided is very good and relevant to today's classrooms, I was surprised to find that there are only 5,194 members that access the resources.
    The great thing about the West Virginia website is that they are years ahead of other states, especially Indiana where I live and teach, in designing and implementing 21st Century Skills into educational curriculum and schools. In looking at there redesign, I too found several useful resources. I particularly liked the curriculum maps that were designed for Social Studies and Language Arts. These can prove useful for teachers in providing technology resources to use to enhance lessons.
    You are right on point with the large amount of information that is available. It often comes down to so much information and so little time. One suggestion might be assigning this resource to a curriculum specialist to disaggregate the information by subject area for teachers. Our district has curriculum "coaches" that work with teachers on designing lessons, assist with creating curriculum maps and finding relevant information for curriculum design and implementation. I am thinking of suggesting this website to their department to see if they can work on filtering through all the information and locate the most relevant information for teachers.

  2. Jeanne,
    You had more success than I did exploring the resources. I got frustrated because almost every link I explored was trying to sell something. I did find out what Kermit was saying in 44 seconds! These activities will be a fun way to help my fifth graders refine their Internet search skills. Thanks for sharing that find. I also found the site difficult to navigate because of the wealth of information. It would be more effective if it had sections designated for educators, administrators and government (since that is where the change will need to come from).

    I would like to see more direction in how to make these changes. Integrating 21st century skills into our schools is an essential change that needs to be made. While most teachers and administrators realize this the issue is how and with what resources? Schools are required to meet so many guidelines with less money and staff then major corporations (many of whom are being rescued today!). Our schools need realistic support from our society and government to make these changes. The corporations that are part of Partnership for 21st Century Skills could play an essential role making these changes. Aren't we preparing their future employees? A great place to start would be support and training for our teachers. I read an article in Edutopia recently that suggested that the best way to train teachers in technology is to first promote the use in their own personal lives (Moulton, 2009). The author's point is that there are many excellent teachers that understand their curriculum and have been teaching it well for years. They are now asked to change their delivery mode and it is a difficult task. If teachers can see the benefit in their own lives they are more likely to integrate those into the classroom. This sounds like a positive and supportive way to initiate change. A laptop and internet access for every teacher (and some professional development too!).

    Moulton, J. (January, 2009). Technology integration begins at home. Retrieved March 29, 2009 from

  3. Jeanne,

    I think we were all a little surprised by the sheer volume of information on the site. I was also a little confused by their use of terms of which I was not familiar, like Route 21 for example. I did find great info and resources in their "Publications section." I found the Outcomes and Examples in the 21st Century Skills Map for English to be a tool that I will consult over and over again.

    Our school is in the middle of two very large projects. One: create a literacy plan and two: create an online curriculum. I found this site to be a valuable resource for me as I endeavor to finish these two plans for our school.