Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

The Partnership for 21st century skills ( is a remarkable resource for educators. It is a national organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my state (New Jersey) participates in this endeavor ( Prior to this week, I had not heard the term P21 (Partnership for 21st century skills), and while browsing through their website realized the importance of getting students prepared to handle the technological advancements of the 21st century.

Reading about the Framework for 21st Century Learning ( has helped me develop a new understanding of the issues surrounding 21st - century skills. P21 outlines this framework in a graphic representation that is very easy to understand. It also provides tools and resources to help educators blend the three R’s and four C’s (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation) into their teaching.

While browsing through the website I came across a video presentation by Sara Brown Wessling, National Teacher of the Year, 2010 ( I was very inspired by this video and sent a link to all my colleagues to view. Sara Wessling reiterates in her video the importance of teachers realizing the need for students to be ready for 21st century skills.

On their website, I found many resources to prepare students for 21st century skills. The information that I did not seem to find was strategies for the learning disabled and students who are struggling in their reading and writing skills. The Assessment of 21st Century Skills “outlines key principles and strategic recommendations for current and future efforts to develop 21st century learning assessments.” It talks about moving forward but has no guidelines for students who are struggling.

The implications for my students and for me as a contemporary educator will be to teach with the P21 framework in mind. Students today are much more technologically advanced than their teachers are. Keeping this in mind, teachers need to become contemporary educators and gear their instruction to match their student’s ability to relate better with technology.

I was very happy that New Jersey is one of the states involved in moving forward with participating in the 21st century learning. My only concern is that my district has not informed teachers about this participation. Prior to this week, I had never heard about P21. I believe this is an essential resource for teachers to be aware of, so that they are better equipped to get their students ready for the skills of the 21st century.


  1. This website is absolutely outstanding. It has many resources available for educators. When I first accessed the website I felt like a kid in a "candy store", I was trying to access everything!! It will take sometime to navigate through everything but it will be well worth it. I had never heard of P21 either until recently. I agree with you, this will be an essentioal resource for teachers to become better equipped in getting their students better prepared for the 21st century.

  2. This website does provide wonderful information on how to incorporate P21 skills in the classroom. I was also happy to see that New Jersey was one of the states on board with the ideas of P21. However, like you, my district has yet to inform us about the initiatives they plan to put in place. I would enjoy engaging in professional development in this area in order to learn how to incorporate these skills in my classroom. You are right, many children are more technically advanced than their teachers, so it is important to begin teaching these skills now. The year is passing by and I would love to begin implementing these skills in my classroom now.

  3. This website provides good resources and explains how to prepare students for the 21st century. My question to you is what type of professional development would you like and when would you like to participate in the development? I ask this question because to often I have been involved in professional development that has put me to sleep and that has taken away my personal free time. So I am curious how it is done in NJ.

    Heriberto Adrian Lopez

  4. Response to Adrian,

    We normally have our professional development classes after school in 2-hour sessions. If more time is needed for a particular topic, additional 2-hour sessions are arranged on different dates. I too have not been thrilled with some of the professional development courses that we are required to take. Some of the courses that I have an interest tend to hold my concentration, and I participate in them more than the ones that are just forced on us.

    A few weeks ago I attended a professional development class on how to Skype and different ways to use it in a classroom. Only 20 teachers in the entire district are involved in this endeavor. In March, we will meet again to talk about how Skype was implemented in our classrooms, and if we need any further assistance. These kinds of courses are good for teachers wherein they are given the resources, assistance and feedback on what was taught to them. Every district in New Jersey is different in the way professional development courses are conducted, but I feel that our district is moving forward to implement the 21st century skills in the classroom. Even though at present only a handful of teachers are taking part in this initiative, I am certain that eventually more teachers will join us.

  5. Mrs. Singh:

    My first thought upon reading the beginning of your blog was this: Why hadn't the New Jersey state Dept. of Education or Mrs. Singh's school district informed the teachers of New Jersey that the partnership existed and that NJ was working with it?

    To me, this is indicitive of the bureaucracy that pervades many organizations that are either directly funded by government or seek to work with government/public institutions (the partnership obviously falls into the latter category).

    I found a lot of high-reaching hyberbole on the Partnership's site, but felt it failed to clearly verbalize to educators exactly how the Partnership is going to help schools reach the lofty goals the Partnership has set forth.

    It is amazing to me that the Partnership and the states with which it is currently paired have not done a very good job of marketing the Partnership to educators. As a teacher in New Jersey, you had no idea the Partnership existed. That represents either a failure on the part of the administrators of your school district, or a failure on the part of the Partnership itself. Considering the Partnership was founded by a high-powered Washington D.C. marketing executive, I would think it would be able to do a much better job of creating a buzz amongst teachers and reaching out to them.

    Why do you think your administration has not felt it important to let you and your colleagues in New Jersey know about the Partnership and what it can do for you?

  6. Response to Lyndsay,

    You are right - the year is going too fast and we need to implement these P21 skills to the students soon. I wish our district would let their teachers know that New Jersey is a part of this endeavor. We need to jump on this bandwagon right away and do something about it.

  7. Response to Carri,

    I am not sure why states do not advertise that they are part of this organization and provide funding for professional development for teachers to implement these 21st century skills into their classroom. I plan to e-mail our director of curriculum and professional development to see if he can send out information about P21 to the teachers.
    I am hoping that this will get the wheel rolling and we can move forward with it.

  8. I would have also liked to see more ways to implement this with struggling learners and learning disabled students. In my opinion, they need these skills more than those students who do not struggle with content. They might not have to know how to add fractions to get somewhere in life, but they will have to have good critical thinking and problem solving skills. I work with these students everyday, and I would have loved to see some good strategies to use.