An Awesome Q&A with Laryssa Kramarchuk

In this Q&A with Laryssa Kramarchuk, the word “Awesome” is being used to represent the multitude of skills students have developed through receiving 21st century skills instruction. Therefore, the term “awesome” can be understood to mean, “more adept at practicing 21st  century skills.”

Laryssa Kramarchuk from Frank McCourt High School teaches Integrated Math and Science to 10th graders. The 21st century skill she focuses on is Personal Mindset, with an emphasis on “seeking assistance by asking questions.”

Question: Educators often build these 21st century skills implicitly into their work or curriculum with their students. Why is it important to be transparent to the students as they work to develop these skills?

Students need to see how the skills they use help them become more successful at acquiring, and more importantly better understanding the content.

Question: How does integrating 21st century skills into the classroom make their entire learning experience more “awesome”?

It allows students to feel recognized for their academic achievements, which creates a more authentic learning environment.

Question: What is the most rewarding aspect of integrating 21st century skills in your classroom?

It has been rewarding to hear students say they leave my class asking more questions and have to “google” it to determine the answers, because they cannot wait until we have time in the next class.

Question: How has the practice of these skills made your students more “awesome”?

Students have been able to conduct inquiry activities with more confidence and more successfully, without getting frustrated and giving up.

Question: What has been your most successful project with skills integration? What happened? What did the students do? What did the student achieve?

Students recently completed a socratic seminar about environmental awareness, and there was a noticeable change in the student’s ability to ask questions in real time as a way to challenge their peers thinking, in addition to their own thinking.

Rocking the Boat and Awesomely Skilled Students

Rocking the Boat is not your average youth-service organization. With hands-on instruction in boat-building, sailing and environmental science, Rocking the Boat creates a challenging environment for students to learn and thrive in.

Through the NYC Skills Lab Integrated Schools Partnership Program, Rocking the Boat and Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School have actively been working to introduce students to 21st Century Skills and to give them a platform to practice.

When it comes to integrating 21st Century Skills, Rocking the Boat’s curriculum already has a strong foundation for students to develop skills like collaboration and personal mindset. Students collaborate constantly when they are building boats and out in the river sailing. They are strengthening their mindset by adapting when things don’t go as planned or by working through difficult problems.

Nathan Larsen, Assistant Principal of Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School explains that because the 21st Century Skills are already in use, “The issue is making students aware that behaviors they routinely exhibit are valued by society.”

He goes on to state that student’s ability to identify the skills they are using is “a first step to transferring their use to other contexts.”

Practicing collaboration and personal mindset skills is a must for students at Rocking the Boat. Ryan McCormick, Director of Public Programs reveals that students successfully integrate skills when practicing rowing.

McCormick said, “[Rowing] is an activity designed to foster collaboration and since the tide levels of the river vary from session to session, it automatically forces the students to adapt.”

Throughout the year, students learn how to research the environment and work with tools to build boats. They also learn planning for success skills such as time management and goal setting by working to make sure all necessary tasks are complete in order for everyone to be prepared to successfully sail. The key takeaway is making sure the students understand the skills are transferable to almost any work context.

Rocking the Boat’s programming allows students to dive into necessary skills for a successful future. One thing is for sure, no matter how rough the waters get, Rocking the Boat students will be well equipped to adapt and work collaboratively!