Today's world demands more than Three Rs (reading, writing, and arithmetic), today's workplace looks for graduates that are also proficient in soft skills. These soft skills are also known as the 21st century skills: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication. These skills are essential for students to succeed in life. Communication often tops the list of desired skills in the STEM field and that today's workplace involves explanation, negotiation, and other forms of intense human interaction. Furthermore, global citizenship requires linguistically and culturally effective communication making it imperative for graduates to know how to communicate clearly and effectively.
At PNA we recognize the importance of helping students develop these 21st century skills so that our graduates are better prepared to meet the challenges of their future workforce. So, in the classroom and throughout the school, students are given opportunities to develop these soft skills.
In our class one of the ways we practised and developed our 21st century skills was by a blindfolded obstacle course! We created a small course around the classroom and worked in paris to complete it. One partner was blindfolded and had to listen and follow directions carefully whilst the other had to use effective communication. The pairs collaborated and worked together to get each other around safely. It used all aspects of 21st century skills of critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication from the pair to be able to be successful as well as having a lot of fun doing it!
This week we have also began looking and exploring one of my favourite topics. Space! I think space is absolutely fascinating and it is still my childhood wish to become an astronaut! The scope of space is massive, so we have focused our current lessons around our solar system and what we can see in the night sky. I have to say I have been thoroughly impressed by the knowledge that the class already has and their enthusiasm and inquisitiveness for the topic and for finding out more.
There are a huge amount of technical vocabulary words to learn when discussing space which whilst tricky is great for improving our phonics knowledge. One of the words we have learnt is 'constellations'. When we look up at the night sky we can often see the stars. These stars can be joined together like a dot-to-dot to create pictures in the night sky and are given names to represent the pictures they create such as 'Orion', 'Leo' or 'The Big Dipper'. In class we had a go creating our own 'Constellation Observers' so we could look at the stars and constellations whenever we wanted.
Fun Fact: When looking at the night sky you can see about 2500 stars with the naked eye.
This Sunday there is a total Lunar Eclipse and it will also be a Super Blood Wolf Moon. We spent some time in class discussing what this means and the scientific reason of why it is caused. Due to the orbits of the Earth and the Moon. The Moon will be passing closer to Earth and as such will appear to be about 10-15% bigger than usual. Hence 'Super'. Also due to the total eclipse, light from the sun will be refracted by the Earth's atmosphere with the red light waves being reflected by the Moon giving it its blood red appearance.
It should be a fantastic spectacle and is something we spent time learning about in class this week as well as the differences between solar and lunar eclipses. We constructed a spinning model to help us understand the causes and reasons for solar and lunar eclipses and once again I was impressed with how quickly the class understood the concepts. Fantastic work!
With the start of the new year, many of us decide on goals we would like to achieve over the course of the coming year. A decision to do or to do not do something and it is generally with the aim to improve or better ourselves. A new years resolution.
In class this week the new year presents a great opportunity to review where we started and to look ahead to where we want to be. It is also a great time to review of class guidelines and to make sure they are working for all of us.
After a period of self reflection, each student was asked to chose something of which they were proud of, something at which they wanted to get better at, and something at which they had already improved upon. After some discussion each student transformed their wish into a goal, with two to three actionable steps.
This was a challenge for some. Personally I find it much easier to be critical and find something I can improve upon but much harder to show off and find something I would say I am good at. However it is something valuable and important to be able to do.
We have made reading goals in class before, whether it be in reading or math or gym. Where they choose something they could do better, close their eyes, and visualize doing it better. these have often been short term goals as well. Something that can be achieved in the lesson or within the week. However, this was the first time I asked them to write down their goal and the steps they could take to achieve it. This was also a long term goal. Something that could be worked towards for the rest of the year. Setting, making a plan for, and working towards goals is a complex task, but an important one.
Achieving a goal takes discipline and perseverance. When we make goals, students become vested in their own education, begin to take responsibility for their learning, and learn an important tool for becoming lifelong and reflective learners.
Ms. Tuomi has over five years experience in ASD, where she taught first and fifth grade classrooms. An avid skier, Ms. Tuomi is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Alaska Pacific University’s Bachelor of Arts in K-8 Education.