I have no time in class for 21st Century skills… What should I do?

I have no time in class for 21st Century skills… What should I do?

A common misconception when it comes to helping learners develop the so called 21st Century skills – including creative and critical thinking, communication and collaboration- is that this puts strain on the syllabus and takes valuable class time from language activities. In fact, it is not a matter of finding extra time but how the lesson is planned and how some activities are designed. Here’s an example below:

The traditional way
Most coursebooks have stories. Usually students read the story and then discuss it with the teacher.

How can I tweak it?

Choose a secondary character or an inanimate object from the story. Invite students to discuss in pairs/groups how this character or object would narrate the story. Would it be the same or different? Then ask them to write a version of the story based on the point of view they discussed earlier.
Share the stories on the school blog and ask learners to write reviews on them, comparing them to the original story and highlighting strengths and weaknesses.

This will help learners develop not only their language skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing) but also creative and critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills without devoting extra time for 21st Century skills.

How can I facilitate 21st Century skills development in class?
 From my experience, you can do it seamlessly by introducing and applying:

  • Pair and group work
  •  Wh- questions (what, why, how)
  •  Information gap activities
  •  Encouraging evaluation and feedback
  •  Challenging established ideas or routines
  • Personalizing content

I am sure you will discover more ways that work with your class. Looking forward to reading your experience and ideas.
Dimitris Primalis

Originally published on 17th October 2019 on Linkedin

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