Creating the 21st-Century Learners
Today’s world requires a new, highly developed set of skills to find success. In the Dubuque Community School District, students continuously develop competencies around critical thinking and problem solving; digital-age literacy; communication and collaboration; and creativity and innovation.
Collectively, these foundational skills will enable our students to be 21st century citizens who make positive contributions to their schools, workplaces and communities.
Following are examples of current initiatives designed to assist students in developing or complementing 21st century skills:
21st Century Learning Project
A pilot consisting of 72 middle-school and high-school teachers from across the district collaborate to learn and implement new classroom strategies for teaching 21st century skills. Teachers in the project participate in collaborative professional-learning sessions with other participants and acquire job-embedded professional development in their schools. Teachers in the project are armed with tablet technology both for their use and for their students as a vehicle for delivering class content.
Digital Literacy Curriculum and Labs
New digital literacy curriculum in Dubuque’s public middle schools is helping students learn how to use technology to communicate and collaborate while also getting a lesson in responsible use of technology. The courses are taught in four new Digital Literacy Labs across the district (one at Jefferson Middle School, two at Roosevelt Middle School and one at Washington Middle School) equipped with the latest computer technology as well as interactive projectors and other technology tools. Digital literacy is also reinforced in curriculum across the district.
Performance Character Assessment
In order to develop strong 21st century skills, we believe students must also be empowered to have strong personal, social and civic responsibility. In developing these supporting skills, the Dubuque Community School District has created a system to assess student progress in the area of performance character. Beginning at the middle school level, a new indicator assesses students’ appropriate, consistent use of intellectual habits, study habits, learning tactics and time management skills expected of them.
While on the surface, LEAD21 is a K-5 reading curriculum, its lesson content is highly aligned with 21st century skills. The program is designed to expand literacy in various ways that encourage students to engage verbally and through writing in both traditional and electronic formats. It is also designed to provide a structure to ensure equity among various levels of learning.