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21st Century Skills - Competencies without a Classroom Podcast - Episode 15 Recap

If you go after what makes you joyful and happy, it will bring more joy to your life and to everyone else’s.

In our 15th #21for21 episode of Competencies without a Classroom, we chat with Birmingham, Alabama educator Carol Mclaughlin. Carol has been teaching in classes ranging from first to fifth grade for 30 years now. While she started working in public schools, she now has the opportunity to teach at a private school in smaller classes, allowing her to really get to know and incorporate student voices into her classroom.

What can you borrow from Carol for your classroom to help teach 21st-century skills?

Carol recognizes that in a 21st-century job world, companies need students who can collaborate, think critically and be creative. Unfortunately, kids aren't given as much of an opportunity to practice these skills each day.

That is why Carol incorporates gamification into her classroom. For those who may be unaware, gamification is the process of taking the best parts we love about games and in this case, placing a layer of that into our education system. The same content is taught, but it's taught through the lens of “how can I make this more like a game?”.

In Carol's school, all classes are gamified. This gives students across all grades the opportunity to work in teams, help each other, and flex these 21-st century skill muscles, all while having fun.

In today’s episode, Carol shares an example of how multi-age teams are put together in her school to practice their grammar and language skills through a game involving ball put balls, scooters, and a whole lot of sorting. Students work as a team, helping both older and younger students work together to accomplish a goal.

Students learn to work out differences, and find value in playing the role of both the leader and the follower in a team setting - all through gamification.

Game on!

Reflection Prompts for Your Students

Use the prompts below to have your students reflect on what they heard in the episode and consider how Carol’s advice can be applied to them.

  1. If Carol was the superintendent of her school, she would ensure that students show that they are capable of collaboration in order to graduate. After all, being able to work things out is a valuable skill. Think about a time you were working on a group/team and had multiple ideas for your project. As a team, how did you decide which idea to run with?
  2. What role do you often play while working on a team - the leader, or the follower? In what ways can you improve/work on in either role? What skills do you feel are valuable and admirable in both leaders and followers in a team setting?
  3. Carol emphasizes the importance of focusing on what you can do, rather than what you can’t do. Name 1-3 skills you are proud of. How would you gamify those skills or subject areas if you were to teach them to other students?

Yearning for more? You’re in luck! We’ll be speaking to educators all month long about #21for21 and the development of 21st-century skills in the classroom. Join the fun and head over to to sign up for episode recaps, lesson plans, and chances to win some awesome prizes.


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Competency-Based Education (CBE)
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