As educators in the 21st century, we are charged with educating students to be successful in a complex, interconnected world. This responsibility requires schools to prepare students for technological, cultural, economic, informational, and demographic changes (ASCD position statement, 2008). To this end, the Annville-Cleona School District has worked to weave 21st Century Learning Skills into all aspects of the curriculum and school environment. 
    What are 21st Century Learning Skills?
    • Ways of thinking. Creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and learning
    • Skills for living in the world. Citizenship, life and career, and personal and social responsibility
    • Ways of working. Communication and collaboration
    • Tools for working. Information and communications technology and information literacy


    Learning and Innovation Skills


    Reason Effectively

    • Use various types of reasoning (e.g., inductive, deductive, etc.) as appropriate to the situation

    Use Systems Thinking

    • Analyze how parts of a whole interact with each other to produce overall outcomes in complex systems

    Make Judgments and Decisions

    • Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims and beliefs
    • Analyze and evaluate major alternative points of view
    • Synthesize and make connections between information and arguments
    • Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis
    • Reflect critically on learning experiences and processes

    Solve Problems

    • Solve different kinds of non-familiar problems in both conventional and innovative ways
    • Identify and ask significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions


    Think Creatively

    • Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming)
    • Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
    • Elaborate, refine, analyze, and evaluate ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts
    • Demonstrate imagination and curiosity

    Work Creatively with Others

    • Develop, implement, and communicate new ideas to others effectively
    • Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work
    • Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world limits to adopting new ideas
    • View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation is a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes

    Implement Innovations

    • Act on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the field in which the innovation will occur


    Communicate Clearly

    • Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written, and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts
    • Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes, and intentions
    • Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g., to inform, instruct, motivate, and persuade) and in diverse environments (including multi-lingual)
    • Utilize multiple media and technologies, and know how to judge their effectiveness a priori as well as assess their impact

    Collaborate with Others

    • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
    • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
    • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member


    • Demonstrate the ability to interpret, recognize, appreciate, and understand information presented through visible actions, objects and symbols, natural or man-made2


    • Demonstrate the ability to evaluate the quality of scientific and numerical information on the basis of its sources and the methods used to generate it
    • Demonstrate the capacity to pose and evaluate scientific arguments based on evidence and to apply conclusions from such arguments appropriately
    • Demonstrate ability to reason with numbers and other mathematical concepts


    • Apply knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and skills across disciplines in appropriate and effective ways


    • Demonstrate the ability to use language to read, write, listen, and speak


    Information, Media and Technology Skills


    Access and Evaluate Information

    • Access information efficiently (time) and effectively (sources)
    • Evaluate information critically and competently

    Use and Manage Information

    • Use information accurately and creatively for the issue or problem at hand
    • Manage the flow of information from a wide variety of sources
    • Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information


    Analyze Media

    • Understand both how and why media messages are constructed and for what purposes
    • Examine how individuals interpret messages differently, how values and points of view are included or excluded, and how media can influence beliefs and behaviors
    • Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of media

    Create Media Products

    • Understand and utilize the most appropriate media creation tools, characteristics, and conventions
    • Understand and effectively utilize the most appropriate expressions and interpretations in diverse, multi-cultural environments


    Apply Technology Effectively

    • Use technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate, and communicate information
    • Use digital technologies (e.g., computers, PDAs, media players, GPS, etc.), communication/networking tools, and social networks appropriately to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information to successfully function in a knowledge economy
    • Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information technologies


    21st Century Themes


    • Use 21st century skills to understand and address global issues
    • Learn from and work collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions, and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue in personal, work, and community contexts
    • Understand other nations and cultures, including the use of non-English languages


    • Demonstrate the ability to make appropriate personal economic choices
    • Understand the role of the economy in society
    • Apply entrepreneurial skills to enhance workplace productivity and career options


    • Participate effectively in civic life through knowing how to stay informed and understanding governmental processes
    • Exercise the rights and obligations of citizenship at local, state, national, and global levels
    • Understand the local and global implications of civic decisions


    • Obtain, interpret, and understand basic health information and services and use such information and services in ways that enhance health
    • Understand preventive physical and mental health measures, including proper diet, nutrition, exercise, risk avoidance, and stress reduction
    • Use available information to make appropriate health-related decisions
    • Establish and monitor personal and family health goals
    • Understand national and international public health and safety issues


    • Demonstrate ecological knowledge and understanding of how natural systems work, as well as knowledge and understanding of how natural systems interface with social systems
      Demonstrate understanding of the relationship between beliefs, political systems, and environmental values of various cultures
      Demonstrate understanding of environmental issues caused as the result of human interaction with the environment, and knowledge related to alternative solutions to issues
      Demonstrate active and considered participation aimed at solving problems and resolving issues3


    Life and Career Skills


    Adapt to Change

    • Adapt to varied roles, job responsibilities, schedules, and contexts
    • Work effectively in a climate of ambiguity and changing priorities

    Be Flexible

    • Incorporate feedback effectively
    • Deal positively with praise, setbacks, and criticism
    • Understand, negotiate, and balance diverse views and beliefs to reach workable solutions, particularly in multi-cultural environments


    Manage Goals and Time

    • Set goals with tangible and intangible success criteria
    • Balance tactical (short-term) and strategic (long-term) goals
    • Utilize time and manage workload efficiently

    Work Independently

    • Monitor, define, prioritize, and complete tasks without direct oversight

    Be Self-directed Learners

    • Go beyond basic mastery of skills and/or curriculum to explore and expand one’s own learning and opportunities to gain expertise
    • Demonstrate initiative to advance skill levels towards a professional level
    • Demonstrate commitment to learning as a lifelong process
    • Reflect critically on past experiences in order to inform future progress


    Interact Effectively with Others

    • Know when it is appropriate to listen and when to speak
    • Conduct oneself in a respectable, professional manner

    Work Effectively in Diverse Teams

    • Respect cultural differences and work effectively with people from a range of social and cultural backgrounds
    • Respond open-mindedly to different ideas and values
    • Leverage social and cultural differences to create new ideas and increase both innovation and quality of work


    Manage Projects

    • Set and meet goals, even in the face of obstacles and competing pressures
    • Prioritize, plan, and manage work to achieve the intended result

    Produce Results

    • Demonstrate additional attributes associated with producing high quality products including the abilities to:
    • Work positively and ethically
    • Manage time and projects effectively
    • Multi-task
    • Participate actively, as well as be reliable and punctual
    • Present oneself professionally and with proper etiquette
    • Collaborate and cooperate effectively with teams
    • Respect and appreciate team diversity
    • Be accountable for results


    Guide and Lead Others

    • Use interpersonal and problem-solving skills to influence and guide others toward a goal
    • Leverage strengths of others to accomplish a common goal
    • Inspire others to reach their very best via example and selflessness
    • Demonstrate integrity and ethical behavior in using influence and power

    Be Responsible to Others

    • Act responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind

    1. Except as otherwise noted, the skills definitions are derived from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Framework (www.21stcenturyskills.org).

    2. Derived from definition attributed to John Debes, per the International Visual Literacy Association.

    3. Adapted from the Environmental Literacy Council Framework