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Friday, December 5, 2008

Rigor Redfined - Tony Wagner (ASCD 2008)

Tony Wagner, Coordinator of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, writes in the October 2008 edition of Educational Leadership that "students need to master seven survival skills to thrive in the new world of work." Many of the seven skills are similar to the NETS for Students published in 2007. As you read through the Mr. Wagner's seven skills, which do you see as being most vital in your classroom? Which do you think are already tested or encouraged by our current curriculum? Which ones do you see our curriculum moving towards? Or which do you see our curriculum hindering?
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17 comments:

Beth said...

This is an excellent article. It got me thinking and agreeing. Students/job-goers today do not lack knowledge, they do lack interaction. Verbal communication is an issue. With computers students don't have to talk. I don't feel this is so apparent in elementary school, but by high school and college it is. I loved the comment in section 4. "if you try five things and get all five of them right, you may be failing. If you try 10 things, and get eight of them right, you're a hero." We don't give students a chance to fail. We teach them to "get it right". Our district, as well as others, have so much curriculum built into the day that we don't have time to let students experiment, question, or fail and try again. To take extra time to collaborate with others and question why they are doing something is just too much lost time in a day. Certain areas of study focus more on collaborating and trial and error, however we must continue to work tword this in all areas. We see this is a great need for future jobs.

Kali said...

I enjoyed this article. It really got me thinking about how and what I teach. I think that our math curriculum and probably the way we do reading workshop now start to teach some of these 7. Our math curriculum is a lot of writing and communication. Investigations in Math really focuses on the students working in small groups/partners and working/figuring things out for themselves. The teacher isn't at the front of the classroom talking and telling the students how to do something. Then, it's a lot of conversation, discussing how you solved the problem, what you did, and why. In reading, we do more work with partners and small groups. I think this is one part that helps the communication and working well with others. It's something I see 4th graders having trouble with. If they don't like the person, they don't want to work with them, and it might be the end of the world. I love teaching Science when I can do inquiry based. For the first time, we did a science experiment last year where we just gave the students supplies, told them what the end product should be, and told them to try it out. It was amazing! They learned so much!! But, the first 5 minutes was tough for the students. They couldn't figure it out. Teachers usually tell them what to do. They wanted answers and directions. By the end of that lesson, they were so excited because they figured it out on their own and had to explain what they did to accomplish it.

csteede said...

I agree, this article is excellent. For those of you who know me, you know that I come from a human resource background and do a lot of work with the Generational differences in the work force. Since America is seeing such a disconnect in the worforce due to four generations existing, I have been asked by some of our business partners if we see the disconnect in the schools. I have to answer yes because unless teachers are aware of the generational differences, they will not know how to teach to them with the exception of their generation and how they have been teaching throughout their career. I agree, we as a district, do a fantastic job in preparing and delivering the curriculum, but we need to move beyond the four walls, step out of the comfort zone, try things differently to see if we can get the results we want. I know, I know....your are telling me there is not enough time and I agree with you, but I also know there are teachers out there that don't get the delivery completed and teach to the assessment. (shocker?) ARe those students learning anything less? I don't know. As our younger teachers move into the work force, we fail them in college by teaching them to teach the same way as it has been taught over the last 150 years. Unfortunately, we have created this non-interactive generation Y. We have made a variety of technologies available to them. Cell phones, laptops, internet, email, texting, Wii, the list goes on and doesn't stop. In many recent articles I've read, many schools are going to the "teach to the gadget" concept. Using ipods--students that miss classes could make up the work via podscasts. Great for guest speakers, etc. Cell phones--those with GPS features allow geography classes to teach students about orienteering. Our Zoo Academy is looking into GPS systems because the Zoo works all over the world and it is a good teaching tool. Palm pilots---hmmm--maybe our students would use it as a planner? Gosh, their cell phone has a calendar on it also. And then, we have the electronic games. This particular generation utilizes MORE electronic games than any other. Have you watched a student playing one of these games? I have---my two kids, ages 8 and 10. They play DS games. I have watched them use many of these skills stated in the article from these games----to the point that I shared with Josh about the Bitstrips website. My youngest was watching me TRY to create (keyword TRY) a comic strip. She stepped up to the plate unafraid to try anything, but from the use of the games, could figure out what several icons meant. "mom, press this button, click here, this will help you design the face, etc." I'd asked if she was ever on this website.....no, she hadn't. Do I feel there is a place for technology? Yes. Taking small steps is what I think it is about. Allowing teachers to try new things and work with businesses to "get the job done." I hate how much has been put on the teachers' plates....manager, parent, nurse, facilitator, instructor, etc.....and working with a generation of helicopter parents is not easy. Sorry, I rambled.

J Allen said...

One thing that I will add, as an opinion, is that the "not enough time" is sometimes overblown and starting to become a crutch excuse. You may not have "enough time" because you are spending so much time re-creating basic lessons from the past that could easily be updated, saving you time in the future. People have found that excuse works and it's getting past that point where it should be tolerated. I know first hand how difficult teaching can be, but technology will make life easier if you let it. One blog post I read last year noted that computers have been around for 20 years in schools. The "I don't know how to use one" excuse should be over with by now. It is now 2008. We should be way past "How can we integrate 21st century skills?" We are 9 years into it! Should we have had this conversation 15 years ago? Having said that, technology has exponentially become easier to use in the last few years, so that's one argument as to why we are just now seeing how easily it can be used. Web 2.0 is still a relatively new term (well, probably not in a tech world...). As Beth noted, we are preparing students for future jobs, many of which we've never heard of or imagined.
Great comments! Keep up the conversation!

ZooAcademy said...

Great article
I think the education machine is so big and set in its old ways that it is going to be hard to make changes this dramatic. Then there is also the group of teachers that have been around since before computers, well???

I would also like to mention that I visited MIT this last year and this style of teaching was used in the classes and labs I sat in on.
Amazing how the process was so positive. I know the typical student at MIT is going to be motivated and not needing to be baby-sat They had to think and brainstorm very intensely on their own and then only after long observation and listening would the professor finally add advice or comments that would generate the thinking to move to the next.
This is how those jobs we don't know about yet come to be.
Very impressive. step.

jfrevert said...

Wow! These seven make complete sense to me. Because I work with an at-risk population, I am especially worried about #3 - Agility and Adaptability. Many of our students do not handle any type of change well. For whatever reason, changes in schedule, routine, and expectations can freak them out. Our students often also lack resilience. When they are faced with a difficult challenge, they often give up without trying. Their thought process seems to be, "I can't do this; it's too hard, so why bother?"

Our staff often discusses how helping our students develop social skills is probably even more important than the academic skills in each of our areas. To me, those skills, being able to get along with and work with others, are an integral part of many of the seven survival skills. What it takes to develop those skills, though, is a willingness to believe that they are important enough to earn time in our already jam-packed days!

Sandy Science said...

A very wise history professor once said that there were more great thinkers during the revolutionary war than any other time in US history. I believe that it takes a crisis to achieve innovation. The numbers indicated on School Improvement Data do not show what is really happening in the schools.

I agree that students today are not taught how to think. When challenged to think outside of the box they immediately become uncomfortable and want to be told exactly how to solve a problem.
As a science teacher, I frequently set up problem solving activities where there are no right answers. Students struggle because they want to know if they are doing it right. I blame the tendency of the educational system to teach toward the test; to feed students answers and to not teach real learning.

I want my students to delve into a topic and learn using as many different formats as possible. If technology helps them to search for new ideas, then I will embrace it.

Elizabeth said...

This article really affirms many of the things we do in our district from unit designs to our assessments. It is hard to say which ones I see as most important because many of them go hand in hand. We focus on written and oral communication quite a bit, and really that is the umberella objective of many of the other skills. I also see our guided reading and guided math as a way to meet the leadership, problem solving and collaboration skills. Education has really changed over the years. I have only been out of school for 11 years, but I still remember sitting in rows and not working in groups the way we do today. What a great article to start reflecting on my own teaching and how I am helping to prepare my students to be successful in the world.

Melissa said...

Love this article!!!! I'm glad I read it after reading "The Prose of Blogging" b/c the one thing that bothers me most about blogging (verbal communication) is exactly what this article says is missing. I agree. With all of the texting abilities and e-mailing and technology communication tools out there, our kids are losing their abilities to communicate effectively. The 7 survival skills mentioned in the article are eye-openers! Are we teaching the youth of today to survive? I don't think so! Scary.

Kali said...

I agree with Sandy that students want immediate results and they want a right or wrong answer. They don't have the patience to work things out. I think Investigations and experiments are helping get that problem solving mind back. There are so many students that finish everything really fast and when they have to start out doing a lot of thinking, it throws them off! A lot of it is communication too. As a teacher, I see how it connects and sticks better too.

Brenda said...

The skills discussed in this article are so important. These are skills, I believe, we are working on in our district. We are not there yet but getting there. Some subjects are easier than others to apply these skills. If it weren't for the seemingly constant assessment I feel there would be more opportunity. This time of year especially I feel that all I'm doing is testing and students aren't getting enough opportunity to problem solve and work with their classmates. The assessments we are given require them to spend a lot of time spilling out knowledge in one form or another. I sometimes have a difficult time getting certain students to work cooperatively with their classmates. At their age they only want to work with their friends. How do I get them to get over this?

jkimball said...

I think our educational system provides opportunities for students in all 7 areas listed in the article. Although, not necessarily always in the classroom. Students can learn and strengthen many of these skills through extracurricular activities provided by the schools. Clubs, sports, music (band), etc. can provide more chances for students to collaborate, solve problems, be creative, adapt, and lead...all important skills needed for their future. I agree that there are things we can change in the way we teach, to help prepare students for success in the real world. But is it a drastic change from what most educators are doing now??

Jana said...

I agree with many of the comments already left on this post. The main issue I took from the article is that students need to be taught how to find answers rather than the answer itself. It was surprising that AP classes were not more student involved. Judging from what I have heard and seen my colleagues teaching in classroom education, I feel that our district is moving towards or at the point where we are leading students towards finding answers on their own. With technology becoming ever more present in the classroom, we now need to integrate the technology and teach students how to use it to find these answers.

jody said...

This is an article that gets me thinking about my own teaching. How to teach content without forcing students into memory machines. I don't think that our schools, students or educators focus on the effort - more the results. I found myself thinking of my Honors Germana 4 class. Many of my best students become resistent and resentful the more they are asked to think for themselves. I know they are competing for a GPA and a class rank and honestly many are more concerned about that, than the learning that takes place.
This is obviously something they haven't thought up on their own. They know that test scores lead to scholarships and university admittance. Students today want a bottom line number on a paper or test, rather than suggestions for improvement.
That said - I don't think they are without intellectual curiosity. I think they see themselves as working toward the next goal of college. Most don't consider or understand how these efforts in high school will impact their future in the workplace. Where - they all expect to earn 6 figure ;)
The question now is, how to prepare students and teach the critical thinking skills that are truly needed. This is not an easy task.

Lindsey said...

I really enjoyed this article. It made me think about the time spent in classrooms to let students explore these seven survival skills. I think that as teachers, we understand that students need to be doing these things, yet we don't give them the time. Often, people are uncomfortable with silence and think time, when that is exactly what we need to help our students gain these seven skills. We must give students time to explore, discuss, try, analyze, evaluate, extend, show, etc. in order to help them get a true understanding of what they are learning and create new learning and understanding instead of just copying what someone else has already done or proven. As an educator, I also fall into the category of not giving students enough think time, but I realize that I need to push them further. It will benefit the students and myself because they will learn more and in turn, I will be able to go further into my teaching and challenge my students. I feel that our curriculum is beginning to make room for critical thinking and problem solving activities more and more, but teachers need to be ready to use the time necessary to really explore these lessons and activities. The skill of oral and written communication is also a big one that I feel needs to be pushed more. Students need to constantly be discussing and sharing ideas in order to be comfortable with communication. Being able to simply read something and present it to a group of people is a good skill, but actually being able to be free thinkers and engage in conversation is an entirely different situation. Technology is second nature for many of our students and using it will not only engage them further, but will allow ways for them to seek more knowledge and understanding. Students have a hard time formulating and asking questions. If we allow students to explore situations and projects in groups (which meets survival skill of collabration) they will have others to discuss and problem solve with. Teachers can then be aides to the learning, but push the students to use their critical thinking skills and collaborate in order to come up with individualized and new solutions to problems.

Anonymous said...

As I read the seven survival skills to thrive in the new world of work I agree that all seven are critical but see a big problem in my classroom with the critical thinking and problem-solving. Most of my younger students (9th and 10th grade) have a very difficult time thinking outside the box. If given a problem that does not have a right or wrong answer, they are lost and need help to come up with a solution to the problem. I think the more we do it the more comfortable they will become with it. I find #7 to be a challenge with imagination and curiosity. Unless the student is very interested in the subject being discussed, they are not very curious about digging deeper into it. I have tried to find topics and subjects that relate to students to get them interested so they will ask questions and will get involved in a discussion. It is difficult for students to transition what they are doing in high school to the world of work, and I understand that we need to do a better job to help them do this. Students do not see beyond today what will help them in the future or how this will help them in the future.

Kathy Adams

Anonymous said...

After reading, I too see many students that are not willing to take a risk--responding to new material that does not have a specific answer. Or are reluctant to answer the question "Why do you think...?"

My husband is a director for a company that has employees from several countries so needs to hold conferences to get work done that needs cooperation, collaboration, and problem solving skills. He has to let people go because they absolutely refuse to change behavior that would be a benefit to self and the company....just a good point to illustrate the need for students to develop good communication, collaboration, and problem solving skills.. using technology because of distance between work sites.

B. Cole