When it comes to implementing the Common Core State Standards, we have much to do, not the least of which is parent education. Parent newsletters are one obvious avenue for getting the message out. Here are some topics and ideas that can help you get a head start on next fall’s newsletters. Principals, you are welcome to cut and paste and, of course, contribute your own “open source” musings in the comments!
21st Century Learning
Things are clearly different in our 2013 world, and school is one of those things! The model of schooling that most of us experienced was established in the 19th century and fine-tuned in the 20th century to develop a citizen workforce for the Industrial Revolution. In many ways, the schooling we adults received was based on an assembly line model. As we educate your children, we are not preparing them to work in a factory. The skills they will need in the workforce will be a “blend of content knowledge, specific skills, expertise and literacies”. (Source: Partnership for 21st Century Skills.)
Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity
The new basics are critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. In fact, at our school, we add a fifth “C” to this: conservation. Let’s review what these skills are and think about how we may already see them being developed in our school.
- Critical Thinking requires one to reason effectively, solve problems, make judgments and decisions. We scaffold our students’ opportunities to think critically and provide a foundation upon which to base their thinking. (Hint – our “Character Counts” program)
- Collaboration is the ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams, to be flexible and able to compromise, to assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and to value the individual contributions of each team member. (Hint – Parent-Teacher Committees, Fundraising Drives)
- Communication is the ability to express ideas clearly in a variety of ways—written, spoken, drawn, built, acted out—and to receive ideas from others by effective listening, watching, and questioning. (Hint – Reading and Writing for sure, but also Art, Music, Tech)
- Creativity not only means having new ideas. It is the ability to elaborate or refine the ideas of others and to be open to new ideas and possibilities. (Hint – PTA Meetings, Science Night)
- Conservation means that our students will take individual and collective action towards addressing environmental challenges. (Hint – our school Green Team!)