Nebraska Summit on Career Readiness

a project of the Nebraska Department of Education in partnership with the Department of Labor, Future Force Nebraska, and Partnerships for Innovation

Knowledge and Skills

For the next round of work, we have identified a series of descriptors of what it means to be career ready. You will have the opportunity to work on the descriptor of your choice. Each team will identify the behaviors or measures that we could use to identify someone with those skills or abilities.

Assignments - Knowledge and Skills

This activity has several parts.

Part 1: Identify Knowledge and Skills.

For your topic area, brainstorm a list of around 15 knowledge, skills, and behaviors that are essential for career readiness.

Then choose the top 5.

For each of these five, describe what would be learned / experienced / accomplished in Elementary School, Middle School, High School, and Postsecondary school for your topic area (showing a continuum of learning so that proficiency and mastery can be demonstrated by age 18).

You have about 45 minutes for this activity.



Part 2: What Would it Look Like in Practice?

After you have identified your list of top 5 knowledge and skills, please develop a story that exemplifies what several of these knowledge and skills would look like in practice.

The story should help someone that isn’t here today to understand in practical terms how these skills could be acquired and/or applied or demonstrated and/or measured.

You have about 40 minutes for this activity.




Part 3: Explore and Discover

We’ll do three 10 minute shifts so you can cross pollinate and have input into and from other groups.

Please choose one person to volunteer to stay in your group and explain the work you’ve accomplished while the rest of the group can go exploring and visit, learn and contribute, to three other group’s work.

After three shifts of 10 minutes each we’ll return to this group to finish Part 4.




Part 4: Pilots

Develop three potential pilots that could be set-up for your topic area.

What would you do in the pilot?
What would you measure in the pilot?
How would you know if the pilot is successful?
How would you communicate the importance of this pilot (and to whom)?

Review the prioritized list of shifts identified earlier and see which one(s) can be mapped to support the pilots in your topic areas.

You have about 60 minutes for this activity (including lunch).

Following this activity we will gather together in the large group to hear your list of knowledge and skills, the story that exemplifies these, and the suggested pilots you could run.


Short cuts (jump to the team work and the conversation that followed):
Team 1
| Team 2 | Team 3 | Team 4 | Team 5 | Team 6 | Team 7 | Team 8 | Team 9 | Team 10

Team Ten - Innovation & Creativity

Report Out

Creativity and innovation is difficult to wrap your head around, so we referred to the jobs skills pyramid. Some routine work will be done by machines. Some routine work will be done by people. Creative work is the diamond at the top that will be done by people. Most of the routine work will be done in the developing world. We want most of the work done in the US to be the creative work. This will help the US stay globally competitive. We are below 10th in the world on all economic indicators except innovation and entrepreneurship. We need to create cognitive dissonance in order to push our students into this creative realm. This was the context we used for our conversation.

Our students need to know how to acquire new information. They need to persevere. Some aspect of play is very important - if we do not feel as though we're able to play in our work, we are probably not peak performers.

Throughout the learning experience, learners need to be able to select their own learning environments. Challenge-based learning is very important. Creating ideas and products is very important. How can we be both intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs? We need to identify and leverage individual talents and strengths. We should weed out the things we're not passionate about so that we can focus on the things we are passionate about.

We identified pilots for each phase of schooling. In elementary and middle schools, we will give students the challenge of building a green school. They will learn about the strengths of their teammates. We will group students based on T/S/MI. They will report their solutions, then we will remix the teams to develop another round of innovative solutions.

The second pilot is focused on middle and high schools. They will identify community needs and develop a business plan for a new business to leverage those needs. Their program may leverage the physical plant and the technology resources of the school. Students will actually start businesses and run them on an ongoing basis.

Our last pilot is for high school and university students. [YouTube video about the Green Acres project is private.] Teams will review a challenged neighborhood or development and create a revitalization plan, present it and defend it.

Discussion: Is the elementary pilot too advanced for elementary-aged students? We want to leverage the creativity of younger students, but they are normally not capable of sophisticated thought until fourth grade.


Team Nine - Technology

Report Out

We developed five key standards for technology: basic technology fundamentals, adapting to new technologies, identifying the best tool for the task, Ethics-Privacy-and-Safety, and global technology. Instead of redefining these skills, we decided to start with the ISTE standards that have already been developed.

We decided to create a graphic story, and leveraged the facilitation team to do it. A student's alarm in the morning might be their cell phone. They will use that phone to communicate with friends. On their phone, they'll see that they need to log onto Facebook to see what's new. Students will use their computer for connecting, getting information and submitting homework. They will grab their iPod on the way out the door. They will use all of these tools to collaborate with friends. Then they get to school and we tell them to unplug and sit quietly. Our concern is for their safety, but the school experience is technologically 100% disconnected from their daily lives.

Not all students are as technologically engaged as others. The student population is very diverse in this aspect of their lives as well.

We identified several pilots for technology. Our first pilot program is for the elementary level. We will ask elementary students to create a curricular-based presentation that utilizes appropriate levels of technology. It is very important (especially for low-performing students) to clearly articulate the criteria and measures of success. We will use data to determine success based on established goals. We will give feedback to the schools, the teachers and the participants involved in the projects. We may choose to engage parents and other community stakeholders as well. The evaluation piece is similar across our three pilots.

Our middle school pilot is more sophisticated than the elementary pilot. The student will develop a personal learning plan through Career Field exploration.

Our high school pilot will engage in an all-digital learning experience with the teacher serving as a facilitator. This will require the student to engage with multiple technologies and devices.

Why are iPods so popular? They are simple and multifunctional. Most importantly, they are personal and customizable.

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Team Eight - Adaptability and Life-long Learning

Report Out

Our five elements were: learning how to learn, life balance, intrinsic motivation, openness to diverse perspectives and economic accountability. This last element includes personal finance, but also accountability to the environment, to the community, to your family, to the government and to philanthropy.

We mapped measurable behaviors to different developmental levels for each of these five elements - from Awareness, to Introduction, to Reinforcing/Applying, to Mastery and Beyond. Let's take Intrinsic Motivation as an example. In elementary school we would simply ask students to develop an awareness of what they like. In middle school we will ask them to explore possible careers without pigeon-holing them. In high school, they will pursue a career field through course selection. Postsecondary, they will merge their career and their edcuation into a life plan.

My school is already working on a pilot program with report cards and lifelong learning. We are trying to measure whether students are learning how to learn and how to take responsibility for their learning. We are trying to measure standards rather than seat time. This applies to both students and teachers. We are identifying skill sets, work habits and observable behaviors. Our report cards report three different grades for each subject.

The skill grade measures their knowledge and skills. The work habit grade reports on homework, staying on task and working in teams. The behavior grade measures their behavior in the classes and the groups.

These report cards are dramatically changing the conversations we have internally, the language of the students, and the discussions we have in our meetings with parents. This will be very meaningful information for teachers to receive in transitions between classes and schools.

We have divided assessments between formative and summative. Teachers don't just put a grade on a paper - they encourage students to review or revise particular elements of the paper.

This pilot is a work in process. We started with professional development with the teachers. We did a lot of communication with all of the different stakeholders.

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Team Seven - Teamwork and Collaboration

Report Out

We identified five key concepts: Functions of the Team, Team Norms, Consensus Building, Product/Output/Objective, Collaborative Advantage (what is the value-add?).

We identified three pilot programs. Elementary and Middle school programs will work on an interdisciplinary project within their own school environment.

For the high school project, we used challenge-based projects to solve real business challenges.

Postsecondary, we can develop a product competition with a lot of reflection on both the team process and the quality of the outputs.

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Team Six - Global/Social Awareness

Report Out

Our top five ideas were: Knowlege of and skill in world languages, cultural awareness and diversity, social studies, social and civic responsibility and service, and international relations.

Our pilot program leverages some existing language resources (a Chinese teacher in the O'Neill high school) by pushing Chinese language exposure all the way down through elementary school. We would like to tie this to a wind industry project underway in the O'Neill area with Chinese investors.

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Team Five - Communication Skills

Report Out

Our top five were: Written, Verbal & Listening, Etiquette, First Impression, and Technology.

Our first pilot project is a media project within a journalism class. Students can create a weekly news program of some kind. Students would create the news network, create the news and deliver the news. Business partners may need to provide resources and funding. Teachers would evaluate the content. Measures could include listenership/viewership or website hits if that's appropriate. This program would create opportunities for leadership and communication skills for students.

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Team Four - Exposure to Work Environment

Report Out

Our top five were: articulate relevance and apply content knowledge, effectively marketing self to businesses, articulate personal strengths and interests, adapt and function in a variety of cultures, and successful networking within an industry.

We talked about a Zoo Kindergarten project - this introduces kindergarteners to a great range of skills and abilities. There is another zoo-based program where the last two years of high school are delivered entirely on-site at the zoo. This requires a tremendous integration of the curriculum. The students need to learn all of the different professions required to run the zoo. Students were asked to sit in on the zoo's strategic planning process, and provided a tremendous amount of insight into the process. They are now doing research and producing presentations to be given to the strategic planning committee.

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Team Three - Work Ethic and Personal Responsibility

Report Out

Our top five were: Personal Ethics, Interpersonal Relationships, Personal Responsibility, Work Habits, and Involvement. Many of these items are difficult to measure, but they are very important for career success.

We called our elementary pilot the "Plastics Scholastics" project. We will provide them with a curriculum about plastics. We will get them involved in a community clean-up. Personal Ethics will ask students to identify what they can do to make a difference. We will also touch on personal responsibilty and work habits. This is actually a grant that has been funded, but we haven't started yet.

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Team Two - Critial Thinking and Problem Solving

Report Out

Our top five were: Define problem/issue, listening skills, information analysis, decision making proces, and applying a solution. Many of these themes have been talked about in other presentations.

Our pilot project is focused on designing and implementing a new playground. The teams would need to decide what equipment should be included, where it should be placed, and how to fund it. The projects would become more complex and elaborate as the students get older.

Our elementary pilot was focused on how to name a school. They needed to go through a rigorous research and decision-making process.

A pilot for older students would be how to continue the education process by doing a scenario something like "your school is destroyed by a tornado" - now figure out how learning will continue.

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Team One - Interpersonal & Intrapersonal Skills

Report Out

Our top five were: communication, self-awareness, professional self, decision-making, and working well with others.

Our self-awareness pilot is focused on high schools. This will engage teachers and students. We can measure the end products using a portfolio tool. Students can take the CALS. We will communicate this to students, parents, employers, school boards, teachers and the community.

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