How esports can boost teamwork skills

Teamwork and communication are the top skills employers are looking for, a new survey of hiring managers reveals. That bodes well for the students at a Los Angeles secondary school who are taking part in an innovative program that uses esports to teach critical 21st century skills: Teamwork and communication are also the skills these young gamers have seen the most improvement in so far.

Working with a company called wethink, Horace Mann UCLA Community School launched an afterschool program in January that has students in grades 6-12 practice and reflect on 21st century skills such as problem solving, teamwork, communication, leadership, and character as they compete against each other in the popular online video game League of Legends.

Esports is a perfect vehicle for learning these essential workforce skills, wethink says. Many of the attributes that students will need in the workplace correlate with success in gaming. For instance, to achieve success, players have to learn how to work together to accomplish a common goal.…Read More

Learning through gaming

When students are so deeply engaged in a task that they can’t wait to dive in — and at the same time, they’re learning fundamental skills that are critical for their success — it’s a magical combination.

That’s what a lucky group of 20 students at Horace Mann UCLA Community School are about to experience as they take part in an innovative afterschool program. The students will practice and reflect on 21st century skills such as problem solving, communication, and teamwork as they compete against each other in the popular online video game League of Legends.

A partnership between UCLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Mann is a public school serving students in grades 6-12. As director of the UCLA Community Schools Initiative, Dr. Christine Shen serves as a liaison between the school and the university. Her typical day consists of interacting with others and solving problems, and so she knows firsthand the value of these skills.…Read More

15 skills students need for success — and how to teach them

21st century skills. Social and emotional learning skills. “Soft” skills. Whatever you choose to call them, there is a set of skills that are essential for success in school, work, and life — and yet teaching and assessing these skills in a formal, structured way can be challenging.

According to a report from McKinsey & Co., the global workforce will undergo a dramatic shift as a result of automation. The need for basic cognitive skills will decline by 15 percent over the course of this decade, while skills that can’t easily be replaced by computers —social and emotional skills such as leadership and empathy, and higher cognitive skills such as creativity and critical thinking — will be in high demand.

Related content: How gamification can improve schoolwide behavior…Read More

Bridging the gap between science and coding

Students exposed to coding and programming at an early age are well equipped to take on higher-level computer science courses in high school—and they also build essential skills for future opportunities in the technology world.

When Rob van Nood was hired as the educational technology specialist for Catlin Gabel School in Oregon, coding and computer science courses were only offered in grades 9-12, and not to students in the younger grades.

Related content: 5 examples of coding and robotics in the classroom…Read More

Teaching faculty to think like innovators

The rapid pace of technological change has forever transformed the face of the global workplace. In fact, its future is unimagined; 85 percent of jobs that will exist in 2030 have yet to be created. As all brave explorers on any frontier know, survival in an uncertain world requires adaptability, resilience, and resourcefulness. Today’s educators must nurture these traits in students to prepare them to meet whatever challenges await and to succeed in a new order.

Schools are thus charged with going beyond academics and instruction in the latest technology to teach students “survival” skills, such as how to brainstorm, think creatively, design, and prototype … how to communicate, collaborate, and lead … and how to innovate. These are the skills employers are seeking as the nature of work becomes increasingly mutable.

At Dwight, we’ve been teaching these entrepreneurial skills through Spark Tank, an after-school incubator for K-12 students. They bring their ideas for new products, social enterprises, political initiatives, and non-profits to Spark Tank, where they develop them through five stages, from concept to market launch. During this process, students learn a range of practical problem-solving, design, presentation, marketing, and business skills, gaining invaluable entrepreneurial and innovation experience.…Read More

3 ways to promote grit via literacy instruction

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” –Japanese Proverb

J.K. Rowling. Bill Gates. Oprah Winfrey. These are no doubt names that most students recognize as successful. But what often goes overlooked is the perseverance needed to achieve success, and that successful people—including these household names—often overcome great obstacles. To that end, the conversation in schools has shifted to resilience and grit, recognizing that people who demonstrate determination often end up being movers and shakers in today’s world.

Thanks to pioneering work by Carol Dweck, Martin Seligman, and Angela Duckworth, we now know that the ability to cope and persevere through setbacks and adversity can be learned and taught. In a related movement, educators across the country are leading the charge to implement social-emotional learning (SEL) programs and teach the core SEL competencies they’ve always known to be immensely valuable. By teaching skills ranging from self-management to responsible decision-making, educators hope to instill students with the positive mindsets, resilience, and grit they need to succeed in school and life.…Read More

Here’s how to foster creative problem solving

Last year, Adobe conducted a study of Generation Z students (ages 11-17) that found students and teachers believe creativity is critical for success in the future workforce. Based on this insight, we conducted another study this year to dig into this notion of creative problem solving: What does it mean, what are the sub-skills, and what are the gaps and barriers that exist? We discovered a disconnect between the needs of tomorrow’s workforce and what students are learning in the classroom today.

So how can teachers foster these skills now, even when curriculum standards are catching up, and help their students develop these key skills?

Engage kids with digital projects
What this means: Every industry is going digital and nearly every job has a digital component. Being able to clearly communicate ideas via multimedia (videos, audio, visual presentations, etc.) is more important than ever for people entering the job force, regardless of their level of education. Instead of assigning students to write a five-page book report, teachers can ask students to shoot and edit a short video depicting a chapter or a sequel, or using digital images to represent what they are learning.…Read More

Why creative thinking might be our strongest asset

Developing a creative mindset is more important than ever before, not just for our students, but for educators as well. The advancement of technology, the connectedness of society, and the innovations that are taking place on a regular basis all point to creative thinking as a key asset in the digital age.

So how do we develop a more creative approach to problem-solving? As a designer and educator, I’ve observed a set of principles that can lead to some rather creative approaches to doing things.

When developing your own creative thought process or nurturing it in your students, the first step is to debunk the myth that being creative is what you do, more than how you think. The tenets of this myth say that being good at art, music, or cooking is what makes someone “creative.” In reality, these are merely expressions of the creative process. To develop creative expression, we must spend more time discussing the above ideas with students to help them get over the first, and sometimes biggest, obstacle to creativity—developing a creativity mindset.…Read More

The New Librarian: Building confidence through coding

When reading became more digital with the introduction of tablets and e-readers, libraries became pressured to innovate and remain relevant. As a former classroom teacher and current literacy specialist at the Muskingum County Library System in southeastern Ohio, I have had to step back and rethink how to ensure that children are not just achieving foundational literacy skills such as reading and writing, but also developing digital-literacy skills.

The original purpose of the public library was to be a repository of knowledge and experience. Now, we are not only a supplier of knowledge but also a facilitator for learning experiences.

Wanting to help build skills through library resources, I decided to create community workshops at which kids could explore coding, engage in 21st-century learning, and, most important, have fun. When it comes to organizing library programs and events, our staff focuses on giving patrons opportunities to “read, discover, learn, and create”—and not just in isolation, but in concert with each other. The following guidelines to creating an effective workshop reflect that mission.…Read More

Putting the SEL into PBL

In project-based learning (PBL), teachers present students with a real-world problem and challenge them to solve the problem through research and inquiry, often collaborating with each another and producing a final product that encompasses everything they have learned. The project relates back to the standards and learning objectives teachers are covering, but in a more tangible way. Often, PBL will naturally integrate objectives from a variety of subjects within the same project.

The Buck Institute for Education outlines seven essential components for project-based learning:

  1. a strong student activator
  2. a driving question
  3. opportunities for student voice and choice
  4. 21st-century skills
  5. time for inquiry and innovation
  6. feedback and revision
  7. a publicly presented final product.

Learn more about these seven essentials here.…Read More