We can have our students develop many 21st century skills but they may not use any of these skills for anything other than their own academic improvement. We can help them to use their skills to make a difference in our community, state, nation, or world.
For example, students examine a traffic problem at their local school, come up with a viable solution, and present that solution to the Board of Education.
Students create a video documentary that shows a historical perspective on a current problem. They explore similar problems. They analyze what past solutions seemed to work and why and which ones did not work and why. They send their short documentary to their state legislators as these officials consider new legislation.
Students select a national problem such as literacy. They then figure out how they can begin to work on the problem locally. For example, they may write and illustrate their own books, digitally record the reading of the books, and create CDs to be passed out at the local food banks.
Students, collectively, select an area of the world and then read the various profiles of people requesting microloans on Kiva. The students decide which person/group they will fund after they decide on a criteria for selection. Each student contributes one dollar so the class can loan a $25. They looked at the map of where the other funders come from to see the international dimension of this project. They monitor the repayment and then reloan the money.
To what local, state, national or world problem do your students apply their 21st century skills to make a difference?
My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.
Also, my book, Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.