According to a recently released Gallup report, schools need to create more opportunities for teaching 21st century skills to high schoolers including – collaboration and problem solving. Working in conjunction with Microsoft Partners in Learning and the Pearson Foundation, Gallup interviewed some 1,014 people ages 18-35 with varying levels of education. Researchers asked participants to recall their final year of school. , asking them to recall their last year of school.

VOCABULARY 180The study reported that just 22 percent of students with a high school education or less said teachers prompted them to apply what they learned to a real-world problem, according to the report.

Additionally, only 33 percent of participants reported learning about other cultures and teaming up with classmates on projects. While technology use was common among these students, only 3 percent said they used video conferencing, discussion boards or collaborative tools such as Skype – skills that are pertinent and effective in today’s workplace.

Of the participants polled, those that noted using these skills during their final year of school were more likely to say they excelled at their jobs.

The Common Core State Standards adopted by most states require teachers to incorporate collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking into their lessons. With implementation of those standards already underway, these tips can help educators bring the real world into their classrooms.

Cull current events: Look at what is dominating the news cycle and think about how it applies to your lessons, experts suggest. Teachers can use severe weather outbreaks and environmental disasters to illustrate everything from climate patterns to the logistics of coordinating relief efforts.

Using separate oil spills in the Gulf Coast and Alaska as an example, Shanika Hope, senior director of curriculum and instruction at Discovery Education, told High School Notes in December that teachers can have students “compare and contrast that cleanup effort, and talk about ways to improve [it]. All of that’s real-world, relevant stuff that’s important to them, and they’re being asked to leverage different tools.”

Educators can also capitalize on the seemingly never-ending campaign season to teach students about everything from statistics to finance and big data. The U.S. Government Teachers Blog regularly posts on ways to do just that.

Tap industry experts: Getting a CEO into your classroom can be a logistical nightmare. Getting them on a Skype call – now that’s another story.

Free online tools open up a wellspring of opportunity for getting experts in front of students. Educators can set up a call or join one hosted by someone else, using resources such as Skype in the Classroom.

The White House, media outlets and other organizations also regularly host Twitter chats and Google Hangouts with top minds in nearly every field imaginable.

Teachers can also turn the tables and have students present a project or pitch an idea to industry leaders, Andrew Marcinek, an instructional technology specialist at Burlington Public Schools in Massachusetts, suggested in a recent blog post.

CONTINUE READING – Ways Teachers Can Bring 21st Century Skills Into High Schools

Kelsey Sheehy is an Education Reporter at U.S. News & World Report


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