The Framework for 21st century learning is a model that correlates support systems to student outcomes. The input of the support systems comes from teachers, parents, partners in education, and the rest of the learning community. Student outcomes are defined as
a blending of specific skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacies
In other words, the hope of the 21st century paradigm is to create the citizen of the future: one who possesses the intricate mental, technological and cognitive tools to problem solve, to think critically, and to make proper assumptions independently.
It is precisely at the elementary level that students are ready to be properly molded to think without bias and using factual information to make proper choices. The frameworks of 21st century learning hence impart elementary learners in a positive way because it entails that the teaching process should be:
- teacher serves as a facilitator, not as a leader
- students use rubrics to assess their own performance
The application of the "four Cs" to the core curriculum is perhaps the most positive result as it is pedagogically applied through interventions. The four C's are:
- critical thinking
Therefore, initiatives such as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are currently being put into place to ensure that the 21st century framework can actually come to life in the regular classroom.
The Framework for 21st Century Learning is developed from a collaboration between various for-profit and not-for-profit entities. This collaboration resulted in guidelines for student learning in areas including technology, critical thinking, and problem solving. According to information from the collaboration, the entities have been working on initiatives relative to the term “21st Century Learning” since 2002.
However, “21st Century Learning” is not a curriculum that can be subsequently divided into lesson plans or learning objectives. As such, one good way to impact elementary learners is to target specific grade levels. Further, a second good way to impact elementary learners is to consider that most states have currently adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). As such, any initiatives, lesson plans, or learning objectives derived from the “21st Century Learning” concept would most likely need to align with CCSS.