Preparing our Students for the Global Society

By Kristine Papamichael M.S.Ed. 

The buzzword, “21st Century Education” can be heard among educators, teachers, students and in the community at large. So what is 21st Century Education? According to Scott McLeod, it is bold.  It breaks the mold.  It is flexible, creative, challenging, and complex.  It addresses a rapidly changing world filled with new problems as well as exciting new possibilities.  The new millennium brought with it a dramatic technological revolution.  Social media, web-based videos, and electronic communication became the norm in everyday life. We now live in an increasingly diverse, globalized, and complex, media-saturated society. According to Dr. Douglas Kellner at UCLA, this technological revolution will have a greater impact on society than the transition from an oral to a print culture. There has been a paradigm shift in our educational philosophy which has been embraced by the faculty here at Sage Day.

As outlined in Sage’s mission, our faculty strive to “…empower and prepare students with the skills needed to realize their potential and achieve success.” The teachers here are dedicated to challenging and assisting students in becoming contributing and successful global members of society. Classrooms have increasingly focused on creative thinking, flexible problem solving, digital literacy collaboration and contemporary skills needed to be successful in post-secondary pursuits. Focusing on student driven learning, Sage Day teachers are maximizing each student’s unique capabilities.

So, how does this play out in classrooms at Sage Day? The answer is simple yet complicated. 21st Century Skills come in many forms, shapes and sizes. Over the past year, our teachers have increasingly integrated authentic learning through the use of ongoing problem-based learning experiences (PBLs). PBLs focus on developing a solution to a real-world problem identified by the student. This gives students the freedom to choose work that is relevant and important to them which results in increased interest and richer learning. Because many of our PBLs are cross-curricular, students tackle problems from multiple perspectives, just as they would in the real world.

In walking through the halls of Sage Day, you will see students in class working on laptops or teachers using interactive Smartboards to promote student centered collaboration and information sharing. Social Media has become an integral learning tool as well. No longer are blogs and twitter purely for fun. They have become a staple in our society. Words that are used as commonly as “TV” and “radio,” now include facebook, twitter, blogs and more. Sage teachers capitalize on these virtual outlets and use them to enrich learning in a manner both interesting and useful to students. Teachers here use websites such as Quizlet.com to highlight key terms and elaborate on important concepts. Students have also been downloading the Quizlet app which turns their phone into a virtual flashcard. Edmodo is another platform utilized by many teachers at Sage. It allows students to collaborate, share content and access homework. To encourage digital literacy skills and home-school connections, teachers utilize the discussion board feature which encourages student participation even at home.

21st Century Skills go hand in hand with career and college preparation. Sage Day has begun to enhance its transition process through the implementation of a web-based collaborative guidance program, Naviance. Naviance is a College and Career Readiness platform that connects academic achievement to post-secondary goals. It allows students, teachers, counselors, and parents to communicate easily and collaborate through a virtual platform. The use of the Naviance program not only facilitates a variety of 21st Century Skills but also increases student accountability in their future.  Further enhancements to our transition process are in the works.

These are just a few of the many skills staff and students work on to prepare them for the ‘world after Sage.’ 21st Century Education is more than just a buzzword. It is more than a pedagogical shift in education. It truly is the future. It redefines the role of teachers and students. It is a culture of inquiry. Imagine a school wherein the students make exponential growth in their basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening, researching, scientific explorations, math, multimedia skills and more! Picture an environment where learning is driven by the students and for the students. Do you have the picture? Can you see it? What you see is Sage Day.