What does Future Ready Learning Look Like?

What does Future Ready Learning Look Like?
Posted on 01/19/2018

We say that our students need to have “21st century skills” in order to be a future ready learner, but what are these skills and what does it look like when students are using them?   This will be the focus of my blogs over the next few months.

To be clear, all of the skills we will talk about are within the context of rigorous academic learning standards.  There are different frameworks that use various terms to define 21st century skills, however on a high level we can think about these skills in the following categories: Inventive Thinking; Effective Communication; Digital-Age Literacy; and High Productivity.


Inventive Thinking
 is required for our students to apply higher-level thinking skills in more complex situations that are initially made easier with technology.  These “life skills” for students in the 21st century include: adaptability and managing complexity; self- direction; curiosity; creativity; risk taking; higher-order thinking and sound reasoning.  A current example of this in District 66 is students in social studies working in student-selected, thematic groups to develop open-ended and "researchable" questions for their project on Ancient Greece.

Effective Communication skills are critical for our students because now, more than ever, they are preparing for careers that require working within teams, teaching co-workers new skills, and working with diverse groups. 

Students need to be skilled in: teaming and collaboration; interpersonal skills; personal responsibility; social and civic responsibility; and interactive communication.  An example of this in District 66 is students working collaboratively to create evidence-based claims after viewing & doing a close read of Steve Job’s Commencement Speech.

Digital-Age Literacy
 is essential for students to effectively navigate the complexities of a digital society. Students need to be skilled in basic literacy (the 3 Rs), scientific literacy, economic literacy,

technological literacy, visual literacy, information literacy, multicultural literacy, and global awareness.  A current example of this in District 66 is students creating their own screen-cast and placing it into Playlist for other students to learn about cell theory.

High Productivity skills are needed by students when entering the workforce.  Studies have shown that businesses are seeking employees who posses high productivity skills, over those with simply high scores on standardized tests. A recent survey of former District 66 students revealed that a number of them wished that they had more high productivity skills when they entered high school.  These skills include: prioritizing, planning, and managing for results; effective use of real-world tools; and the ability to produce relevant, high-quality products.  An example of this in District 66 is students using a flipped-classroom playlist to learn the basics of the a math lesson on two variable relationships multiplying fractions, then reinforcing the concepts in class.

Is this really new?  As adults who went to school in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, we might read this and remember learning some of these skills back when we were in school.  And yes, not all of these skills are new to education or business.  However, what is new is the level of competency that today’s learners will need to have in order to be "college and career ready" after they complete their K-12 education.

Reminder:  The
 Building Our Future Open House
 is next week!  We hope to see you on Tuesday, Jan. 23 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at Ide School.

Tim Arnold, Ph.D.