Journal of the Effective Schools Project, Volume 18, 2011 Page: 35
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in twenty years?
2. What skills will students
need to be successful in that
3. What contributes to powerful
personal learning experienc-
4. How can instruction be de-
signed around the answers
Skills necessary for success in the
21st century are not unknown to
classroom teachers: critical think-
ing and problem solving; creativity
and innovation; collaboration,
teamwork, and leadership; cross-
cultural understanding; communi-
cation, information, and media lit-
eracy; computing and information
and computing technologies litera-
cy; career and learning self-
reliance (Triling & Fadel, 2009). It
is important to note, however, that
this list does not emphasize content
mastery. Skills required in the fu-
ture will focus on processing rather
than collecting information. Life in
the information age means content
delivery is no longer the sole do-
main of teachers. Because stu-
dents can access content without
instruction, classes should focus on
processes that act on content.
Using Content to Teach the Pro-
Clearly, 21st century skills are pro-
cess, rather than content, oriented.
Information age students usually
are adept at gathering information
from multiple media sources; how-
ever, they commonly lack practice
and experience to successfully use
information to navigate life's chal-
lenges. Explicit literacy instruction
(i.e. math, reading, and writing)
and opportunities to practice 21st
century processes can meet student
education needs at all levels (K-12)
and in any content area.
Finally, the Apple Store experi-
ence (Washor, Mojkowski, &
Newsom, 2009) presents a 21st
century instructional metaphor for
reshaping classroom instruction
for Generation Y and Z learners.
The Apple Store is customer-
centered; customers freely explore
based upon personal interest. The
activity is framed (or confined) to
the content opportunities within
the store. "Geniuses" facilitate
individual learning as needed, both
one-on-one and in small groups.
Other metaphorical elements in-
clude: serving one customer at a
time, risk-free problem solving,
relevance, relationships, rigor, and
authentic assessment (p.60). This
comparison illustrates many as-
pects of an ideal 21st century class-
Although reflection and metaphor
strategies inspire independent in-
structional redesign, Table 1 com-
pares instructional practices that
impede or support 21st century
skill acquisition among digital na-
Without any doubt, public schools
remain necessary to our society;
however, most digital native stu-
dents come to school intuitively
more technologically adept and
technically skilled than many digi-
tal immigrant teachers. To be ef-
fective, educators must continually
ask, " What can schools teach stu-
dents that students cannot learn on
their own?" In addition to explicit
literacy instruction in math, read-
ing, and writing, instructional
changes must be implemented to
meet 21st century expectations.
While teachers already have the
skills to make these changes, im-
migrating to the digital world is
Clearly, 21st century
skills are process, rather
than content, oriented.
Here’s what’s next.
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Tarleton State University. Effective Schools Project. Journal of the Effective Schools Project, Volume 18, 2011, periodical, 2011; Stephenville, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth201694/m1/39/: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Tarleton State University.