21st Century Skills & Core Curriculum

A lot is happening these days in regards to state and national K-12 curricula. Cedar River Music is based in Iowa, where we have the Iowa Core Curriculum, which integrates the English Language Arts and Mathematics Common Core (a national movement) with other subjects like Science, Social Studies, and 21st Century Skills. In addition to these content/skill areas, Iowa has adopted what are known as the Universal Constructs:

  • Critical
  • Complex Communication
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Flexibility & Adaptability
  • Productivity & Accountability

Just as the Iowa Core is a variant on the national Core Curriculum movement, the Universal Constructs come in part from a national coalition known as the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. P21 organizes their guide into the following:

  • Core Subjects – 3Rs and 21st Century Themes
  • Information, Media, & Technology Skills
  • Learning & Innovation Skills
    • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
    • Communication & Collaboration
    • Creativity & Innovation
  • Life & Career Skills
    • Flexibility & Adaptability
    • Initiative & Self-Direction
    • Social & Cross-Cultural Skills
    • Productivity & Accountability
    • Leadership & Responsibility

OK, I know what you’re thinking. This all sounds great, but where’s the music and other Fine Arts?! Well, it’s there, in a way. Universal Constructs and P21 Skills are both ways of describing how children learn, just as the Creative Sequence Process does.

Universal Constructs & Creative Sequence Process
Universal Constructs & Creative Sequence Process

As you can see, it is quite easy to link what we are doing as music educators to these new initiatives. Moreover, it adds value to the arts when we can demonstrate how we daily integrate more of these “universal skills” than many other subject area teachers. Page 81 of Creative Sequence: Teaching Music with Flexibility & Organization also lists all the connections to the P21 Learning, Innovation, Life, & Career skills.

Finally, another ray of hope. Not to be left out, a group of national arts education organizations, including NAfME, have come together to rewrite the National Standards for Arts in Education. Originally published in 1994, the nine National Standards for Music Education (p. 79 of Creative Sequence) are familiar to many of us, and are the foundation of numerous state and local music curricula.

The new organization, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards has wisely jumped on the bandwagon, tagging the word “core” to the standards revision. In Iowa, Fine Arts leadership in connection with the DOE have already written standards, which are known now as “Iowa Core Companion” documents, but will hopefully be legislated into the actual Core curriculum in the near future.

Interactive Lesson Plan Template

I’m proud to announce the addition of an interactive lesson plan template to our resources! The template is run on Google Drive Spreadsheets, and may require a Google account sign-in to access. Dropdown menus for Grade, Elements, National Standards, 21st Century Skills, and Media should save you a lot of time inputting information into lesson plans!

(Note: If you are not already logged into Google, the link below will not work. Please log into your Google account and return to this page.)

Each time you click on “use this template,” it creates a brand new, blank lesson plan that is then saved individually to your Google Drive. Simply change the filename before you save, and you have a list of all your lesson plans well organized!

What else would you like to see in these templates?

Cedar River Music/Creative Sequence YouTube Channel

We are proud to announce the beginning of the Cedar River Music/Creative Sequence YouTube Channel! This will be a source for videos of music in action with children, as well as instructional videos on how to teach particular concepts to children.

To kick it off, we have 15+ videos featuring children from Camp Creativity, demonstrating folk songs, clapping games, and dances from around the world.

Visit https://www.youtube.com/user/CedarRiverMusic to see the whole list of videos. Below is one example.