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New Maps Infuse 21st Century Skills

The 21st Century Skills Maps for Science and Geography, which were released in late June, reveal how integrating the skills of problem solving, communicating and critical thinking into science and geography classes supports teaching and prepares students to become effective and productive citizens.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills collaborated with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) to create the frameworks. The maps are the third and fourth of a series. The last map, for math, will be released later this year.

The maps are awareness tools that show what 21st century skills look like in core subjects, says Valerie Greenhill, vice president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The teacher-created vignettes help guide classroom practices in grades four, eight and 12, which link science and geography to the skills required for college and work.

Francis Eberley, NSTA executive director, says the map provides rigorous coursework and applies skills of collaboration and innovation to make science “come alive and better engage students.” For example, seniors would participate in a “citizen science” project such as service learning or an environmental project and would need to work collaboratively with local and remote research scientists, organizations and agencies. Students would then work in teams, blog about their experiences, and present their findings to an audience.

Joseph Kerski, NCGE’s vice president of external relations, says the maps ensure geography students “engage in spatial analysis and inquiry that will prepare them for today’s rapidly changing world.” For example, eighth-graders in geography would identify historic and contemporary migrant groups in their area and examine why migration occurs. Students would investigate the changes that occur when people migrate and present their findings. —Angela Pascopella