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Skilled Communication

We started our adventures on the 7 C's of education talking about the importance of embracing change. In education and the world, technology has dramatically increased the speed of changes that can be made. This week we will look at communication. When you think about communication in your classroom, how are you building the communication skills of your students? We are going to look at two important sources to discuss the importance of incorporating skilled communication in lessons.

Tony Wagner, a world renowned education reform expert, discusses what he refers to as the 7 Survival Skills for students in the 21st Century. Wagner spent time with business leaders and education leaders from across the globe as he developed his 7 skills. His focus is on the need for effective communication skills in both oral and written formats.

“The biggest skill people are missing is the ability to communicate: both written and oral presentations. It’s a huge problem for us.”

—Annmarie Neal, Vice President for Talent Management at Cisco Systems

Wagner's work centers around the need for students to be able to effectively communicate in multiple formats, but its more than just organizing a thought and presenting that thought. He discusses the need to be able to use skillful communications to accomplish something. It is one important piece of the bigger picture. And he points out that this communication must be multi-modal, as students who are able to use various formats will be better able to adapt to the needs and opportunities they will face in work and personal situations.

Are students required to communicate their own ideas regarding a concept or issue? Must their communication be supported with evidence and designed with a particular audience in mind?

Microsoft's 21st Century Learning Design based on the International Teaching and Learning research, provides a rubric that allows teachers to evaluate lessons. "This rubric examines whether students are asked to produce extended or multi-modal communication, and whether the communication must be substantiated, with a logical explanation or examples or evidence that supports a central thesis. At higher levels of the rubric, students must craft their communication for a particular audience."

Both of these tools challenge educators to look deeply at how they incorporate activities that touch on developing communication skills of students. If you are looking at ways to evaluate how 21st Century ready your lessons are both of these resources merit further reading. The best part of it is that you can use the evaluation rubric to quickly address areas that would allow you to ramp up a lesson  


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