WATESOL: 21st Century Teaching: Promises and Realities | October 18, 2014
Keeping up with the Digital Revolution in the Language Classroom: 4 Skills meet 21st Century Skills

By Jill Robbins. Ph.D.
Multimedia eLearning Teacher, Voice of America Learning English

21st Century teachers of English as a Second Language are faced with two challenges:

  1. Helping their students master academic skills in a new language
  2. Helping students utilize the tools provided by modern technology to further their learning and facilitate their achievement.

Language and the thinking skills referred to as 21st Century Skills (as proposed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills) are necessary for success in the 21st Century workplace. This workshop is aimed at showing how the development of these skills can be supported through the use of technology in the second language classroom.

Specifically, this workshop explores the “Learning and Innovation Skills” component of 21st Century Skills, which is divided into these areas:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Communication and Collaboration

We’ll focus on three sample tasks, using freely available (open-source) applications. Only basic computer literacy on the part of the teacher is required for these activities.

3:10 – 3:30 Introduction and Orientation
3:30 – 4:00 Group exploration and development of task
4:00 – 4:10 Sharing of tasks developed by groups

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Some samples of possible tasks:

Task 1 (Creativity and Innovation):

  • Creative Projects
  • STEM Challenges
  • WebQuests

Task 2 (Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving, Communication):

  • Debates
  • Conduct Media Analysis
  • Tackle Local Problems

Task 3 (Communication & Collaboration):

  • Use and Develop Podcasts
  • Create a Wiki
  • Share a VoiceThread
  • Start a student blog