21st Century Learning

Creativity, character, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and cosmopolitanism are the primary skills students need to be competitive in the 21st Century. At Wye River, we have developed an original class that is specifically designed to promote these skills. This student-driven class has been coined, “21C”.

The structure for the class begins with brainstorming sessions where students are asked to reflect on their passions and the topics they would most love to explore. Students share their lists and narrow down options as they pitch ideas to one another. Then, they form groups based on similar interests and select a specific topic; together, they define their goals, create a class description, determine an end product, and form a timeline to complete it. 21C groups are charged with finding a teacher guide/mentor and with gaining approval from Head of School. Each student completes self assessments and journals throughout the class. At the end of the quarter, every group leads a formal presentation about their project, sharing their experience, successes and challenges. Their projects have direct connections to the school's Twelve Demonstrations of Learning.

Some “21C” topics that Wye River students have explored include:

  • Robotics: Students constructed and programmed a robot capable of performing a difficult physical task.

  • Forensics: Students studied Forensic Anthropology and its practical applications in criminal investigations.

  • Music Recording: A school rock band, “The Khakis,” played for several school events and recorded their own three-song demo, one of which was an original composition.

  • Student Government: Students in traditional offices identified student concerns and community needs to address, planned events, fundraised, and drafted a detailed charter.

  • Zoology: Students studied animal structure and behavior through observation of live animals and dissection.

  • Kindergym: Students designed a repertoire of games to develop gross motor skills and and regularly delivered a class to local Head Start preschool students.

  • Computer Animation: Students created a professional-looking stop-motion animation short using green screen technology.

  • Science Art: Students used scientific subjects as the inspiration for drawing, painting, poetry and sculpture.

  • Computer Programming: Knowledgeable students teamed to write code using common programming languages.

  • Sustainable House Building Project: Students designed a “Green Thumb House,” a sustainable small house, and raised funds in order to construct a replica on school property.

  • Trebuchet Design: Students studied, designed, constructed and tested a large-scale trebuchet and taught lessons to local primary students about the physics of their design.

  • Wye River Radio: Students publicly broadcasted radio podcasts of news, weather, music, and human interest stories relevant to school life.