In February, 2008, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) developed a working definition of 21st Century Literacies (and, yes, “literacy” now has a plural form):

Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Twenty-first century readers and writers need to

  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments”

The NCTE has been joined by other national groups, such as the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a “national organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student. P21 and its members provide tools and resources to help the U.S. education system keep up by fusing the three Rs and four Cs (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation). ”

Framework for 21st Century Learning

Framework for 21st Century Learning

Our work with students and teachers is also guided by the resources and topics posted to the 21st Century Schools website.