There are many people that will tell you what is wrong with education these days. As a matter of fact, there are many people making a living giving speeches or who have wrote books all about the problems. It seems to me that not as many people are providing answers though. It is always easier to tear down something that to figure out how to fix it.
After I did my first PYP Exhibition, I started to come up with an idea for a change. It was not a revolutionary idea, but rather a shift in focus. The IB has transdisciplinary skills (or ATL skills in secondary) that is part of the curriculum, but most of the time is is an afterthought. Quite often we don’t explicitly teach or explicitly assess these skills. I thought of the idea of using them as the center of everything and structuring units around them. Thinking skills, Social Skills, Self-Management Skills, Research Skills, and Communication Skills.
I am lucky to be working at a school (ISHCMC) that truly encourages innovation and change. After sharing my ideas with others at the Learning2 conference, I was encouraged and supported by my grade leader, principal and head of school to experiment with how this might work. We changed a science unit to see how it might look using a #SkillsFirst approach. There were others at the school who were also exploring how it might look in their grade as well. It was quite successful and sparked some interesting ideas from it.
I asked Suzanne Kitto, a grade 5 teacher who was doing her own exploration into this #SkillsFirst approach to teaching to join me in giving an inspire talk and in running a workshop at ISHCMC’s 3E conference. I have attached the video from it below.
We are still experimenting and figuring out how this works in the classroom and hope that you might join us. Are there more skills, such as digital literacy skills that should be included into the mix? How do you explicitly teach or assess something like cooperation? Can we create a POI for the skills across the grades? These are questions we are still thinking about and would like other input. We honestly feel that this is a very good approach to teaching students for the uncertain future. Skills are timeless and will be useful no matter what the future holds.
I hope to be adding more on this topic in the future…