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Fordham High School for the Arts and their Awesome Drama Skills

Fordham High School for the Arts’ CTE Drama program bridges the learning of 21st century skills with theater and drama-related work disciplines. As students work through the program, they learn to work as stage hands, production assistants and much more. In the process, they become adept at 21st century skills such as problem solving, verbal communication and collaboration.

Linda Key, CTE Drama Teacher and NYC Skills Lab Workforce Alliance Internship Coordinator, believes that these “skills are absolutely necessary in order for [students] to be successful in their workplaces.”

Fordham High School for the Arts has state of the art equipment where CTE Drama interns use their skills in professional productions. They are taught hard skills, such as how to work the lights, audio production and making sure the technology on stage is fully functional before the plays. They are also taught 21st century skills such as time management and balancing the needs of their peers with their own. Having familiarity with those skills helps interns stay on track and effectively balance the multitude of tasks and personalities surrounding a production.

Fordham’s CTE Drama program uses the Top Ten Core Employability Skills as a framework of high-impact skills students will need in order to be successful at any job or career. Leslie Beller, CEO and Founder of MHA Labs, explains that the core employability skills were created “to support work-based learning and summer job practitioners.” Beller explains, “MHA Labs larger work readiness research initiative has studied over 95 skills with over 12,000 employer performance reviews to isolate the core skills that must be in place for youth internship success.” A student who has been trained with these skills will be able to maintain focus on tasks despite distractions, manage time and stay on schedule, and balance their needs with those of their peers.

Through the internship program, employers give interns feedback on how they are performing in the Top Ten Core Employability Skills. The process is most certainly rewarding, but it comes with difficulties. Linda Key explains, “The most difficult aspect of integrating the skills is receiving timely feedback from the employer.” When students are unable to receive feedback, it becomes more difficult to implement and reflect on the skills they are working on developing.

Within the program, there are many reasons to rave. In the program, students are able to develop professionally and explore career choices that suit their personalities – especially when it comes to theater or technical theater. Not only do they leave understanding themselves better as interns and potential employees, they also leave with a strong grasp of key employability skills to help them in any job or career they seek.

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.