Preparing Students for their 21st Century Lives: An Evening with Ken Kay
Monday, January 22nd, 7pm, Wellesley High School Auditorium
Today, students in the Wellesley Public Schools (WPS) not only focus on mastering the content of their courses, but also work on building a complementary set of skills known as the “4Cs” - Creativity, Communication, Collaboration and Critical Thinking. These capabilities are collectively known as the principles of 21st Century Learning, and are a key priority of the WPS.
“Our mission is to ensure that our students leave WPS ready for college, career, and life,” says Dr. David Lussier, WPS Superintendent. “We know that colleges and employers are looking for not only content knowledge, but also for young people who are lifelong, self-directed learners, who can apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and work in dynamic team environments. As a school district we strive to meet this challenge by embracing the core tenets of 21st Century learning.”
The WPS 2013-19 Strategic Plan charted WPS’s initial course for integrating the 4C’s into the classroom. Since that time, programs such as Evolutions at WHS have created a dynamic classroom environment in which students embrace their curiosity and take ownership of their learning. Evolutions builds connections across the disciplines of Art, English, Science, and Social Studies as students tackle real-world problems -- individually and in teams -- that exist within their community. Students in this program think critically about the content and themselves as they seek creative solutions to their learning challenges.
In addition, all students have increased opportunities to work in a project-based learning (PBL) format which better aligns with how they will work in their future educational settings or the workplace. Programs for social-emotional learning have also been enhanced from Pre K-12 to build the interpersonal skills and empathy for others, which are essential to collaborative team work.
Last summer, a grant from the Wellesley Education Foundation (WEF) enabled a group of 24 WPS elementary school educators to participate in a three-day course on PBL facilitated by the Buck Institute for Education, a organization dedicated to PBL that works with districts across the country on how to write and implement integrated units. Participating teachers completed their first PBL units this fall, which incorporate academic content -- aligned with our state standards -- along with the 4C’s. The projects conclude with student exhibits for parents and WPS colleagues, which enable the children to share both their project and talk about the learning process.
As 2017-18 got underway, the District sought the expertise of 21st Century learning thought partners to support planning the next steps in this journey. In particular, Ken Kay - the Chief Executive Officer of EdLeader21, a professional learning community for education leaders committed to 21st Century education - has been a key resource. A team of educators traveled to Atlanta to attend the EdLeader21 Annual Event to kick start thinking for this year. “It was an opportunity to network with and learn alongside districts and schools from across the country that are also considering ways to integrate and emphasize the 4C's in education,” noted Chelsea Bailow, Professional Development Coordinator.
Since returning home, it has been full steam ahead. Ken Kay presented at the District-Wide Professional Day on November 27th. He challenged the WPS community to consider how education needs to shift in order to keep pace with a world awash in data and information, and the rapidly changing needs of employers. All WPS staff were introduced to the concept of a Profile of a Graduate (POG) that describes the essential knowledge, skills, literacies, and mindsets students need to become lifelong learner and contributor. Districts across the country participating in the EdLeader21 network have developed their customized POG, and now Wellesley is embarking on this initiative in 2018.
Superintendent David Lussier notes, “we believe that in the coming year, we will really move forward with planning the next phase of integrating 21st Century learning principles, which will build on our established strengths and take us to the next level. Essential to this process will be developing a Profile of a Graduate in Wellesley that reflects our community’s values and aspirations and, ultimately, one that will form the foundation of our next strategic plan. The voices of our community and staff will be critical in charting this course for the future together.”
Parents of WPS students and the broader Wellesley community have an opportunity to learn more about 21st Century Learning on Monday, January 22nd at 7pm at Wellesley High School. The evening, sponsored by the Wellesley Education Foundation, will feature both a talk by Ken Kay and some time for interactive dialogue with other attendees about the POG.
About the Event
WEF is proud to sponsor An Evening with Ken Kay. This presentation is open to the entire WPS community. Ken will lead the audience through a provocative and interactive session as he explores the following questions:
How do we define student success in the 21st century?
What are 21st century skills?
Why are these important for our students?
What knowledge, skills and habits of mind do we want all of our WPS graduates to have?
About Ken Kay
Ken Kay is the Chief Executive Officer of EdLeader21, a professional learning community for education leaders committed to 21st century education.
Ken co-founded the Partnership for 21st Century Skills in 2002 and served as its President for eight years. Prior to his work on 21st century education, Ken served as executive director of the CEO Forum on Education and Technology. He co-authored The Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education: 7 Steps for Schools and Districts, released in 2012, and the foreword to the book, 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn. Currently, he serves on the board of the Buck Institute for Education (www.bie.org).