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 21st Century Literacy:  Teaching the Five C’s in the Information Age


Keith Manos


Course Description

This course provides teachers in grades 3-College practical, research-based strategies for creating engaging lessons that help students improve their skills at collaboration, critical thinking, communication (both print and digital), creativity, and choice – the 5 C’s of the 21st century classroom. Teachers will learn how to make students college and career ready with lessons that adhere to the Ohio Learning Standards, utilize technology, demonstrate professional accountability, and lead to student achievement.

Course Objectives (Participants will be able to . . .)

1.         Design effective lesson plans aligned with the Ohio Learning Standards and 21st century    literacy.

2.         Create a student-centered classroom grounded in the mastery of 21st century skills.

3.         Produce engaging lessons that foster problem solving, promote critical thinking, and

            involve students in collaborative work.

4.         Assess student progress with a variety of assessments and rubrics, both formative and      summative, that align with the Ohio Learning Standards.

5.         Define what it means to be literate in the 21st century and contrast it with previous            centuries.

6.         Identify websites to explore and add to their “teaching toolbox.”


In short, participants should expect to leave this seminar with a series of useful, classroom-tested strategies to help their students not only become truly literate but also succeed on state-mandated tests.  The real value of literacy hinges on how students first understand the terms and events that literate individuals are expected to know and, second, apply them.  Creating 21st century literacy should be a focus in all content area classroom.


Learning Experiences

Through direct instruction, model lesson plans, videos, and writing, participants will learn how to use research-based and classroom-tested activities that help grades 3-12 students master 21st century skills as mandated by Ohio’s Learning Standards. 


Schedule of Tentative Activities

Day One

Today’s Focus: Critical Thinking and Promoting Creativity

1.    Introduction to presenter and course and the five C’s of 21st century learning.

2.    View YouTube videos: “A Vision of K-12 Students Today” and “A Vision of 21st Century Teachers.”

3.     Read “The 5 C’s of 21st Century Learning” and “What does it mean to be educated in the 21st century?”

4.     View YouTube video “The Four C's: Making 21st Century Education Happen.”

5.     Read “Give Kids Real Problems to Solve – Even in Elementary School” and “Critical Thinking and Close Reading.”

6.     Charles Lindbergh activity.

7.     Overview on Close Reading:  contextualization and breaking the stranglehold of the textbook.

8.     Examine model lesson plan on Rosa Parks.

9.     Explanation of effective lesson planning to promote critical thinking. Contrast performance goals and learning goals.

10.   Factitious activity.

11.   Read the article “Students Are Really, Really Bad at Spotting Fake News, Misleading Websites.”

12.   View Dorothy and Scarecrow scene from The Wizard of Oz.

13.   Explanation about improving students’ creativity.

14.   Read “A Creativity Conundrum: Can Schools Teach Students to Innovate?”

15.   View YouTube video “Creativity in the Classroom.”

16.   Review of Bloom’s taxonomy.

17.   Examine model lesson plan on Aesthetics.

18.   Read “4 Ways to Develop Creativity in Students.”

19.   Summary of today’s key points.

20.   Examine model lesson plan on democracy.

Day 2

Today’s Focus:  Communication
1.     View Youtube video  “A Vision of Students Today.”

2.     Altruism activity.

3.     Explanation about the contrast between academic v. workplace writing and the need to close the gap between academic and workplace writing.

4.     Read “21st Century Academic” and “Teachers of the Future.”

5.     Examine sample Report assignment.

6.     Read “Digital Literacy: An Evolving Definition.”

7.     Credit card activity.

8.     Explanation of how teachers should design assignments so that students learn to be self-directed, digital learners and communicators.

9.     View YouTube video “10 Future Predictions to Blow Your Mind from World's Best Futurists.”

10.   Explore various websites.

11.   Overview on digital literacy, emails, texting, Twitter.

12.   Read the article “The Technology of Text Editing.”

13.   Texting activity.

14.   Read “The Email Charter - 10 Rules to Reverse the Email Spiral.”

15.   Examine “Email/Memo Assignment.”

16.   Examine “Pop Up Debates” as oral communication activity.

17.   Overview on creating a multi-modal assignment. Overview on writing across the curriculum and communicating with technology.

18.   Summary review and examine selected websites.

Day 3

Today’s Focus:  Choice [student-centered classroom], the Ohio Learning Standards, and Assessment

1.     Reports on research related to the student-centered classroom.

2.     View YouTube video “Education in the 21st Century – Student Centered Learning.”

3.     Read “Creating a Student-Centered Classroom,” Comparison/Contrast writing assignment, “Encouraging Student Input . . . According to the Experts.”

4.      View YouTube video “Student Centered Learning: Why, How, What.”

5.     Explanation and tips for creating a student-centered classroom and how this contrasts with a teacher-centered classroom. Note contrast between teacher-centered and student-centered classroom.

6.     Read “What Student-Centered Looks Like” and “Encouraging Student Input.”

7.     Overview on Ohio Learning Standards – OLS applications, pedagogy, and accountability. Read “Premise of the Ohio Learning Standards.”

8.     Examine model lesson plan based on Ohio Learning Standards.

9.     Read “Reading Standards for Informational Text K-5” to compare and contrast OLS by grade levels and to apply OLS to reading literacy.

10.   Visit ODE website and examine the Ohio Learning Standards.

11.   View the YouTube video “Assessing Student Learning.”

12.   Reflect on students’ views about assessment.

13.   Read “Guidelines for Assessing Student Learning.”

14.   Explanation of the contrast subjective v. objective assessments, formative and summative assessments.

15.   View the YouTube video “Assessing Student Learning” by Andrea Peacock.

16.   Overview on basic assessment tools, including rubrics and evaluation forms, and evaluations in the 21st century workplace.

17.   Read “Typical Teacher’ Comments on Student Writing.”

18.   Examine model self-assessment.

19.   Deal with diagnostics, prioritizing criteria, relating assessments to the OLS, distinguishing between process and product, and scaffolding.

20.   Review summative assessments, readiness, remediation, enrichment activities, and potential alternative assessments.

21.   Summary and review.


Day 4

Today’s Focus:  Collaboration and College/Career Readiness

1.     Overview on importance of collaboration and teamwork in the 21st century classroom.

2.     View the YouTube videos “Education – Collaboration,” “21st Century  Skills:  Collaboration – Communication,” and “21st Century Skills in Action: communication, collaboration, listening, and information literacy.”

3.     Identify collaboration practices that can be used with students.

4.     Read the article “Career Readiness.”

5.     Overview on career readiness in the 21st century

6.     Visit ODE website to view Career Tech pages.

7.     Survey on 21st century job titles and job trends in the 21st century.

8.     Examination of My Next Move website.

9.     View Ted Talk by Ashley Stahl.

10.   Examination and critique of sample lesson plan.

11.   View Ted Talk: “On Demand Learning in the 21st Century Classroom.”

12.   Reflection on 21st century workplace issues, freelancing, problem-solving, entrepreneurship.

13.   Summary and review.

14.   Work on project.



Atwell, Nanci. In the Middle: New Understanding About Writing, Reading, and Learning.  Boynton/Cook Publishing.  Portsmouth, NH.  1998.

Block, C.  Improving Comprehension Instruction:  Rethinking Research, Theory, and Classroom Practice.  Jossey-Bass. San Francisco, CA.  2002.

Close, E.  A Middle Mosaic:  A Celebration of Reading, Writing, and Reflective Practice at the Middle Level.  NCTE.  2000.

Commission on Adolescent Literacy.  Adolescent Literacy:  A Position Statement.  International Reading Association.  1999.  www.readingonline.oeg.

Dinesh, Asha. “The 21st Skills Students Need to Learn in School.”  EZ School.  2013.  June 21, 2013.

Fountas, I.C.  Guiding Readers and Writers (Grades 3-6):  Teaching Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy.  Heinemann. Portsmouth, NH.  2001.

Kay, Ken.  The Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education.  Pearson Publishing.  Upper Saddle River, NJ.  2012.

Marzano, Robert. What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action. ASCD, 2003.

Marzano, Robert, et. al. A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works.  ASCD, 2001.

Miller, B. “21st Century School House” blog.  2008.  June 21, 2013.

Opitz, M.  Flexible Grouping in Reading:  Practical Ways to Help All Students Become Better Readers.  Scholastic.  1998.

Rasinski, T.  Teaching Comprehension and Exploring Multiple Literacies:  Strategies from the Reading Teacher.  International Reading Association.  2000.

Sawyer, Keith.  “Assessing 21st Century Skills.”  Creativity and Innovation Wordpress blog. June 20, 2013.  June 22, 2013.

Tompkins, Gail.  Literacy for the 21st Century:  A Balanced Approach.  5th Edition.  Allyn and Bacon Publishing, Inc.   Boston, MA.  2009.

Wepner, S. et. al.  Eds.  Linking Literacy and Technology:  A Guide for K-8 Classrooms.  International Reading Associaiton.  2000.

ED ___ 21st Century Literacy:  Teaching in the Information Age



1.  Participation in class during each class session – 10%.

2.  Primary Source Document Assignment:   Break the stranglehold of the textbook by locating a primary source document that you can apply to a specific lesson in your subject area. This primary source document could be, for instance, a letter, speech, or news article that would help students understand events and/or develop better interpretations about the subject matter. Explain in a single paragraph how this document would relate to a specific lesson. This is due at the beginning of class on Day 4 – 10 %.

3.  Website Assignment:  Explore and summarize the contents of an assigned website (these can be found on page 75 of the booklet), listing the key points and interesting information that fellow educators (and students, in turn) could find valuable.  Be sure to address how colleagues could use this website to improve their own teaching and/or engage students to improve their digital literacy. Then write a one page summary about this website in the form of an annotated bibliography – 20%. This is due two days after the conclusion of the seminar.

4.  Final Project:

The variety of communication formats allows for a variety of assignment and assessment options that any teacher can use with any lesson.  That said, you are to design a single lesson, assignment, and assessment criteria/rubric for the students’ final product. This product can be generated from a reading or writing lesson.




Project Directions:


1.         The Assignment - What exactly do you want the students to accomplish?  Be very          precise and explain in 3-4 sentences the purpose for using this assignment with your      students, answering the question:  Why am I doing this with my students?). You should   also include here the Ohio Learning Standard(s) you want students to master.


2.         The Lesson – What are some learning activities that you will use in the classroom to

            engage students in the lesson and develop their background knowledge, cultural literacy,    and communication skills?  Be sure to include a technology task(s) and career readiness          tie-in to the lesson, which should have a student-centered approach.  In addition, students            must have the opportunity to collaborate and use critical thinking.  List these in numerical      order (a minimum of eight).   


3.         The Product - What will the final product look like - i.e., short-answer test questions,       summary, essay, report? How much writing, for instance, is expected of the students?               Provide the specific directions as if giving them to the students in either sentence or bullet format.


[Pretend now that the students have completed their final product and are ready for it to be evaluated.] 


4.         Provide the actual summative assessment form.  Consider:  How will you evaluate the   students?  What will be the evaluation criteria for the final assignment? What OLS           standards are they expected to have mastered?  Include the OLS on the assessment form.


The final project will be emailed to Keith Manos at by a mutually agreed deadline.  This project is worth 60% of your grade.


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