1. Think critically and problem solve – Students will be able to reference their background knowledge and make inferences that will help them solve problems that they have not been exposed to before.
2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively – Students will be able to generalize methods or make conjectures based on patterns or trends that they notice in order to quantitatively reason through a solution.
3. Collaborate fairly – Students will be able to work collaboratively in order to successfully complete problems as well as make sure that all participants share equal responsibilities.
4. Perseverance – Students will not be defeated by failure. They will struggle through a problem and realize that mistakes are opportunities to learn.
5. Attend to Precision – Students will be able to determine the appropriateness of a solution and understand when precision is necessary and how to achieve it.
6. Appropriate leadership – Students will be able to appropriately make decisions for their groups that will benefit the team in accomplishing their goals, but will also know when to take a step back and allow others to lead.
7. Willingness to try – Students will be able to try new things, speak their minds, and put forth effort without hesitating for fear of getting something wrong.
I am currently teaching 6th graders at Vista Magnet Middle School and I strongly believe that middle school is where essential skills should be instilled in students. For that reason I was pleased to read Wagner’s “Global Achievement Gap” because it informed my teaching on how to better prepare the 21st century students. In middle school (and maybe even prior) students learn the importance of technology and how quickly one can obtain an answer using the Internet. Wagner argues that being exposed to quick solutions is what makes the 21st century student different than any previous generation. Students can quickly become bored if a procedure is time consuming and would rather be given a formula to get the answer. Therefore, I need to be aware that the needs of the 21st century students have changed, so I plan to incorporate activities in my math classes that provide quick solutions using technology. With this in mind I still believe that students need to be able to derive a solution without the support of technology in order to become problem solvers.
I believe that Wagner is missing leadership as an essential skill. In today’s society students need to have leadership skills in order to successfully complete tasks because there are rarely any tasks that are individualized. In other words, students need to have confidence to lead others because there will be tasks that will require a group effort to complete.
In order to instill the 7 essential skills in my students I will implement student-centered activities that require group work and leadership. Students will participate in frequent communication with peers in the form of student presentations, whole class discussions, and pair-shares.
This year I plan to help my 6th graders attain these skills by taking away the responsibility from me and giving it to my students. This will require my students to become leaders and to problem solve through tasks and think abstractly when necessary. Students will have to persevere and work collaboratively in order to help one another be successful and they will attend to precision to check if their solution makes sense. I will measure the success of my students based on the conversations they have, their attitude towards learning, and their progress towards mastering the mathematical concepts we explore.