Evaluation – Partnership for 21st Century Skills

My reaction to this phenomenal site? As I read, react is exactly what I do.

After reading about “new literacies” and the “gap,” a site like The Parthnership for 21st Century Skills offers a slight sigh of relief. At least someone (people) out there is (are) aware and already working. (Listen, I am late at the 21st Century Skills game, but I still care.)  

Surprises to the site? The surprise is that folks from all walks: education, business, and government are contributing and caring together. George Lucas? Karl Fisch? The NEA, NCTE, PBS, Pearson, Scholastic, Sesame, Ford, Gale, and LEGO? Let me reiterate, LEGO and Sesame? Realizing the extent of support for a new era is energizing. Realizing my needed and necessary part in the change is slightly scary. Watching Ken Kay (President, Partnership) makes me aware of the fact that I must do my part on a personal level and on a more stressful level (time is scarce and so is sanity it seems when teaching is infused with learning) I need to advocate for change soon.

Disagree with the site? In the profuseness of 21st century skills information I could not find a way to subscribe via RSS. Yet my limited technological skills cause me wonder if the problem is not a lack of expertise on my part. And if that is all I can find asunder, I feel sure my knowledge of the subject is insufficient to make a judgement. I am entrigued and enthralled, and a little overwhelmed when I view the site, so “skills” saturation is my only disagreement. 

Implications for my students and myself? The implications are parallel to the information on the Skills site. Phenomenal. “My” students, unfortunately, may not benefit, but America’s students will. And given the mass effort of its contributors, my urgency to act on a personal level has definitely increased.

A final comment. As a seemingly progressive state in many aspects, Maryland lets me down by not advocating or even apparently understanding the need for change in education. I am appalled that the push to mandate better results in testing, dropout, and graduation scores/rates only manages to create a wider gap between skills needed, and skills force fed. (I truly can make that sentence parallel with “skills received.”)

At fifty years old, I realize that change is difficult.  But as a community, a very large, very proud and free community, let’s strive to get over the need for 500 year old technology (Miners & Pascopella, 2007) and “our mother’s education” and recapture the need to work hard together as a community, a country.  Our future depends on it.



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15 responses to “Evaluation – Partnership for 21st Century Skills

  1. Marilyn Goodrich

    Steph, I understand how you feel. I think the state of PA has dropped the ball with this one. I am wondering if you might be the one to make the changes needed. Letting the kids aware that there are these skills out there and that you are willing to work with them and get them started can start the fire for you. Maybe they can come up with ways to get the “word out” to all?
    Marilyn Goodrich
    K-12 Eductional Consultant

    • stephaniedyer


      Last year was the first year we created our entire yearbook on-line, and though the change was not deliberate on my part in terms of 21st century skills, I am happy that my students can partake of the 21st century”ness” of on-line publishing.

      I am not sure the students are the ones who need to be made aware of “skills out there.” I believe too many of them are already utilizing new technologies with no clue as to how powerful they are. I believe we adults need to “start the fire.” I keep telling my coworkers about developing a blog, aggregator, and wiki, and they seem to be interested at least. In the library the other day I was surprised by an instructional assistant’s attitude when expressing my concern about not meeting the needs of our students. And, though dealing with special needs students and having little knowledge of technology, she felt her students needed and would benefit from the 21st century skills. I was surprised when as the bell rang and we were flying back to our duties, she was practically begging me to present an inservice to our colleagues.

      I hope our increased knowledge will give all of us at Walden class the initiative and courage to move forward and take the time to support the “Partnership.”

      HS English
      Stephanie D.

  2. I wouldn’t feel bad that your state isn’t listed on this website. My state of Wisconsin is listed, and I am in my eighth year of teaching and I wasn’t even aware that we were or that we had 21st century skills that are supposed to be implemented in our classrooms. I don’t know if any schools in our area are even fully aware of this. I find that even more disappointing. It almost seems to me that Wisconsin’s involvement could be a bit of a show because not all of our schools are involved. I wonder if some of Wisconsin’s bigger districts in Madison and Milwaukee are involved.

    • Marilyn Goodrich

      Why would the state leave schools out? I think that they need to make it a state wide initiative. The only issue is that they would have to attach money to it or no one would try it.
      As for PA…well….we can’t even get a state budget and we are all holding on for dear life right now to see what they will come up with. They have been focusing on coaching and math lately. The reading iniatives are few now. We have started working on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), but we have not had a committee meeting in a while….I think they are good at starting things, but not following through.
      Wouldn’t it be fabulous to start an initiative using these 21st century skills? Sure would, but that would mean putting money towards it and they can’t even pay for their own staff—they have laid off 200 state employees as of last month.
      Sometimes I feel as if I cannot do anything and make any changes? Do you feel that way?
      Marilyn Goodrich
      K-12 Educational Consultant

    • stephaniedyer

      Tonia and Marilyn,

      I totally agree that just because states “sign-on,” does not mean they are changing much of anything. Since I began teaching almost six years ago, I have heard much disgust about lawmakers not “putting money where their mouths [are].” (They remind me of my ex, who after leaving me for another woman could not understand why people were irritated with him. Maybe he should have been a politician, yes?)

      I would actually rather Maryland not “sign-on” unless they intend to follow through. I believe awareness and education about 21st century skills is the only place to start. I also believe that it should be up to educators not politicians or administrators to determine a plan for change. So much to do; so little time.

      HS English
      Stephanie D.

    • stephaniedyer


      I accidentally replied to both you and Marilyn under Marilyn’s reply to me.

      I apologize,

      HS English
      Stephanie D.

  3. Jim

    You make a good point about the commitment a State makes in joining this initiative. Don’t forget education is mostly under state and local authority. Money is the problem and the solution. Unfortunately just forcing states to go along with the “Partnership” means nothing. If your States Departments are like Connecticut’s, it is full of committees, initiatives, and humongous documents. Most educators and politicians don’t even know they exist unless it is thrust upon them. Maybe it is time to wrestle the control from local districts and the states? On the other hand look what happened to a well intentioned No Child Left Behind law. The Partnership is a great site for educators to get the message out but for the politicians and the electorate we need something easier. As Thoreau said “Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity!


    • stephaniedyer


      I feel it is worse (hey, who am I kidding, probably not) in my county at least. They spend money on every new idea “coming and going,” but much of it seems just a “quick fix.” You are so correct, “simplicity” is what we need, a world of simplicity.

      Thanks for the converstation,
      Stephanie D.

  4. Valerie

    Here’s my concern with the website…there are numerous businesses, local, national, and international that are backing this partnership and yet I haven’t heard of this before now! Apple, Microsoft, etc. are huge companies. Why haven’t I heard of it? Why have teachers been passing along this information? Why hasn’t my district taken any kind of action?

    I completely agree with you, Stephanie. As the nation and its numerous school districts up the ante with testing and modifications, the gap between the skills they need and the learning we provide continues to grow. Miners and Pascopella (2007) mention that the technology shift in schools will come down to “patience.” I’m not sure how much longer I can be patient.

  5. Stephanie, I agree the need to advocate for a change is essential. The workforce is changing at a rapid pace and educators need to better prepare themselves for the 21st century skills in our schools. Unforutanately, school district funds are limited and the tools that are needed for teachers to keep up with the demand to teach technology skills are not always available. I am committed to making an effort in campagining my concerns about the need for 21st century skills in our schools. I support the partnership and I will encourage my co-workers to join in to make an effort in the change that is needed in our schools.

    • stephaniedyer


      I agree about limited funds and being commited. I just feel so frustrated when I ask my students to complete their on-line work and our new county Internet filter will not allow us access. Our students already know much more than we do, and I feel like a bumbling idiot as they sit waiting because the county is so afraid of 21st century skills. We need the Internet to teach these skills!

      Stephanie D.

  6. Marilyn Goodrich

    Getting a state involved is great, but like you all said they must enforce it. It’s no good to be a partner with nothing to show for it….no action…no interest….no intiative. Good thoughts with this post.
    Geting the kids understanding and seeing what technology skills are needed is a first step and they are the ones that can keep it going with some students –they will be a driving force in change at some schools—things have been changed by only a few kids! Once the students are on board in your class then the other teachers will start to see what is happening and will also want to get things moving. You have to be the change agent at times. I think we all can take this (21st century skills) and do more with it! Maybe all the discussions will spark some ideas in all of us. More ideas, the better we have to pick one that might work for each of us.
    Marilyn Goodrich
    K-12 Educational Consultant

    • stephaniedyer


      Thanks for the encouragement. The past few weeks have included technology at school but in a negative way. My year old desktop at school was wiped out after a power failure Tuesday, and after being newly imaged, it still is not working well. Finally on Friday, while getting ready for the Internet part of our reading program, our studies were blocked by the new Internet filter our county purchased this summer. I am trying to balance my negativity with the enthusiasm awarded by our class.

      I agree we must all take our newfound 21st century skills knowledge and “run with it.” We must be the initiators, the catalyst, no matter the difficulties.

      Thanks again,
      Stephanie D.

  7. Paul Harvey


    I always am waiting for your next response. Your arguments are so well written and enjoyable to read. Your articulation of words could not be better. Also you have taken off on your technological development. All of this blogging, wikis, and technology that we are learning about and you still remembered to look for and RSS for the site. I did not think of it. With the overwhelming amount of information that we have learned so far it is clear that you are adapting quickly! You are a leader, Great Job!

    It was very nice to see that support for this movement came from many different sources outside of education. This in itself should place emphasis on the rate for this transition to increase immediately.

    The transition is occurring and we are on the first train leading the way, yelling and screaming for the others to “come aboard.”

  8. stephaniedyer


    I love your analogy using a train. There is a quote that I particularly like that talks of life as a train ride. I have it posted in my room (it’s handwritten by me and slightly small by necessity, so I doubt many students have read it) for my students who like to complain. Funny how I dislike complaining and when I complain, I say I am just talking, working through things.

    So, I appreciate your support. You are doing a phenomenal job too! I hadn’t told you that I was impressed with your use of technology in your classes so far. I cannot remember how your worded it exactly, something about a “quarter point” extra.

    Have you determined which of the new technologies you will use for you lesson plan this sixth week? I would love to use a wiki but am not sure my students can handle it. (I have 9th grade reading remediation students.) I you have any ideas let me know.

    Keep up the good work, and much luck with the rest of the class!

    Stephanie D.

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