Three Ways To Start Making Skills The Focus
Over the last couple of months I posted about the skills every high school student needs and the value of making skills the focus in the classroom (skills don’t have to be “extra”!).
Now that you’re familiar with the skills we have identified and our skills-forward approach to learning, I’m guessing you have a lot of questions, like:
How do I get started with making skills the focus in my classes?
How do I focus on skills when I also have to focus on standards?
What does it mean to be proficient with skills, such as Learning Skills and Work Skills?
Over time we’ll answer all of those questions and more. For now, here are three suggestions for getting started and making skills the focus of your classes.
- The skills you already focus on in your classes.
- The skills you feel are most important for students to develop in your classes.
Identify 1-3 skills you find most relevant and want to emphasize. You can always add more later. These might be skills highlighted in the unit students are currently working on or skills that students will need to demonstrate for an upcoming project or assignment.
Then, check out these Teacher Resources that are designed to help you make Learning and Work Skills a priority in your classes.
- Learning Skill Bookmarks. These include prompts to help you make skills the focus of discussions and conversations.
- Learning Skills in Conversation includes examples to help you use skills in everyday conversations with students.
- “Keep Calm and Focus On” lesson Facilitation Guide, Google Slides, and Student Template to help students practice the Work Skill, “Focus”.
Communicate with students about the skills they’re practicing.
- Write the skill or skills on the board or on a big piece of paper. If you already share objectives or standards with students, circle the action word to highlight the skill students are practicing. Alternatively, provide a few options and let students select the skill they want to focus on most each day or for a specific assignment.
- Talk about the skills every day in class. Contextualize them in the activities students are working on, help students identify skill-based goals, and discuss their value with students.
Look back at the bolded words above – Reflect, Plan, Communicate. Those are three of the Learning and Work Skills you’ll practice as you get started with making skills the focus of your classes! See how I did that? 😉 Pretty soon you’ll also be able to seamlessly integrate the Learning and Work Skills into your conversations and activities with students.
Keep an eye out for more skills and habits resources coming your way in upcoming months. You can also reach out to our team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how to engage students in learning by focusing more on skills practice. Please also contact us with questions you’d like us to address in future posts!
Jolene Zywica, PhD
Dr. Zywica is Opportunity Education's Senior Director of Learning Strategy. She ensures that the resources, tools, and experiences designed for teachers and students effectively support teaching and learning. Prior to joining the team in 2014, Jolene dabbled in teaching both high school and college students, was a high school literacy coach for 5 years, and has spent over 18 years designing and studying the impact of learning programs aimed at engaging students through active learning and technology.