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21st Century Skills - Kindergarten-Grade 2

Civic Literacy

NOTE: The Essential Concepts and Skills listed in Social Studies - Political Science/Civic Literacy are the same as the Essential Concepts and Skills listed in 21st Century - Civic Literacy

Political science is the study of power and authority through the examination of political processes, governmental institutions, and human behavior in a civil society. In this context the study of civics is understood to include the form and function of government. Civic literacy encompasses civics but also addresses the individual's social and political participation.

Essential Concepts and/or Skills


Understand the basic concepts of government and democracy and that the Constitution defines the rights and responsibilities of citizens

  • Understand what the US Constitution is and why it is important.
  • Understand the purpose of rules.
  • Understand the concept of fairness.
  • Understand rights and responsibilities.

Understand how government affects citizens and how citizens affect government

  • Understand the purpose of government.
  • Understand the characteristics of a good leader.
  • Understand respect for other’s point of view.
  • Understand the concepts of power and authority.

Understand the United States has a role in current world affairs

  • Understand the world is divided into nations.
  • Understand how the nations of the world interact with one another.


Employability Skills

The vision statement developed by the Iowa Core Curriculum 21st Century Skills Committee states: Each Iowa student will have the academic and social skills as well as the personal characteristics that empower them to be productive, caring, and competent citizens.This is consistent with the view that good employees may not be good citizens but good citizens always make good employees.

The employability essential concepts and skill sets represent universal content. They (1) contribute to outcomes that are valued for individuals and for society; (2) bring benefits in a wide variety of contexts and apply to multiple areas of life; and (3) are of use to all individuals, deemphasizing competencies of use only in a specific trade, occupation or walk of life. (OECD, 2005*).

Employers are demanding that employees demonstrate the skills to work productively in teams, communicate effectively, think innovatively and solve problems creatively. An overwhelming number of students leave their educational experience unprepared for the world of work. The employability concepts connect content and those dispositions required for success in life beyond school.

According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, “…academic and cognitive skills, as essential as they are, are not all that is necessary for a successful life. In our global technological age, young people also need to work with and learn from diverse groups, be flexible in a variety of work and social settings, and be adaptable to changing times. They need to demonstrate leadership and take responsibility for results, show initiative and resourcefulness, and be productive and accountable for their actions.”

Integration of these critical skills across curricular areas will allow students to make the transition from the classroom to their roles as citizens and workers in an increasingly complex and unknown global market. The availability of a knowledgeable and skilled citizenry will enhance the quality of life and result in a profitable economy for Iowa, our nation, and our world.

*The Definition and Selection of Key Competencies, or the DeSeCo, Project. Overview. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2005

Essential Concepts and/or Skills


Communicate and work appropriately with others to complete tasks

Work appropriately and productively with others.

  • Set goals.
  • Demonstrate good listening skills.
  • Share thoughts and ideas with others.
  • Work positively and effectively with others.
  • Exhibit appropriate behavior in various situations.
  • Identify behaviors that cause conflict.
  • Exhibit positive self-concept.
  • Describe the concept of community.
  • Respect others.
  • Cooperate with others.
  • Acknowledge own and other’s good efforts.

Use different perspectives to increase innovation and the quality of work.

  • Generate ideas with assistance.
  • Are aware of others’ feelings and opinions.
  • Appropriately accept constructive feedback.

Use all the appropriate principles of communication effectively.

  • Listen to others.
  • Ask appropriate questions.
  • Read, understand and create information in a variety of forms.
  • Follow directions.
  • Use technology to communicate.
  • Use various channels of communication.
  • Express ideas.

Recognizes different roles and responsibilities and is open to change

Adapt to varied roles, responsibilities, and expectations.

  • Work independently.
  • Work with others.
  • Understand mistakes are not wrong/bad.
  • Complete tasks and activities.
  • Follow predetermined stages/steps needed to complete an activity or task.
  • With teacher guidance, collaboratively generate strategies to improve an activity or task.
  • Listen attentively.
  • Respect others ideas.
  • Accept and respect others.

Work effectively in a climate of ambiguity and changing priorities.

  • Become aware that change occurs.
  • Adapt to change with minimal guidance.
  • Adjust to changes in structured environment.
  • Understand pressure exists.
  • Work toward conflict resolution.

Demonstrate appropriate risk-taking.

  • Are open to consider new ideas or alternative ways to complete tasks.
  • Work to achieve goals.
  • Understand the purpose of “what if” questions.
  • Share ideas with an open mind.
  • Support others’ suggestions.

Learn leadership skills and demonstrate integrity, ethical behavior, and social responsibility

Use interpersonal skills to influence and guide others toward a goal.

  • Compliment others’ work.
  • Initiate positive interactions with classmates.
  • Identify the concept of goal.
  • Use appropriate group communication skills.
  • Listen to others.
  • Accept constructive suggestions in a positive way.

Leverage the strengths of others to accomplish a common goal.

  • Communicate ideas and thoughts.
  • Share tasks necessary to complete a group task.
  • Understand others may have different ideas and opinions.
  • Understand the concept of compromise.

Demonstrate integrity and ethical behavior.

  • Understand taking responsibility for own actions.
  • Understand the importance of telling the truth.
  • Understand the concepts of character and core values.

Demonstrate mental, physical, and emotional preparedness to accomplish the task.

  • Understand the concept of being organized.
  • Stay on task until the task is completed.

Develop initiative and demonstrate self-direction in activities

Perform work without oversight.

  • Ask questions to clarify and accomplish a task.
  • Understand how to follow sequential steps to complete a task.
  • Learn that incomplete work is not acceptable.
  • Understand the importance of self-confidence.
  • Identify resources and how to access them.
  • Learn to formulate solutions.
  • Understand the importance of commitment to self and group.

Use time efficiently to manage workload.

  • Follow logical steps.
  • Follow a provided timeline.
  • With guidance, prioritize steps in proper order.

Assess mastery of skills.

  • Identifies the task
  • Becomes aware of skills needed to complete the task
  • Shares knowledge

Set and achieve high standards and goals.

  • Understand what a goal is.
  • Articulate a personal goal.
  • Engage in guided activities to improve skills that are relative to goals.
  • Are aware of the concept of core values.
  • Determine rate of progress toward goals.

Engage in effective problem solving process.

  • Become aware of the connections between the classroom and the world around them.
  • Become aware of resources and partners that may be useful in solving problems.
  • Practice problem solving techniques.
  • Generate potential solutions to the problem.
  • Implement solution.

Work productively and are accountable for their actions

Deliver quality job performance on time.

  • Recognize quality work.
  • Demonstrate a sense of timeliness.
  • Stay on task until work is completed.
  • Understand concept of ethical behavior in producing work.

Demonstrate accountability for individual performance.

  • Are punctual in daily activities.
  • Seek help only when appropriate.
  • Stay on task when completing work.
  • Correct errors when directed.
  • Learn from mistakes.
  • Understand concept of individual and group roles.


Financial Literacy

Financial literacy is closely connected to an individual’s emotional, personal, social, economic, and employment success. An individual needs to understand the basics of money management, and use financial resources appropriately to function well in society at a personal, professional, business and community level. In a broader sense, students need to identify and discuss significant economic issues, important to society and to the world. They should practice examining the consequences of change in economic conditions and public policies. (The enGauge 21st Century Skills, 2003)

As society changes, the skills needed to deal with the complexities of life also change. The meaning of skills like financial literacy may change to reflect context, or current realities. Financial literacy, however, is about empowerment, the ability “…to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information in order to function in a knowledge society…” (ICT Literacy Panel, 2002)

The vision articulated by the Iowa Core Curriculum 21st Century Skills Committee states: Each student in Iowa’s schools will learn financial literacy concepts, enabling them to succeed in a complex global environment. The essential concepts and skill sets for financial literacy address the requirements outlined in Iowa legislation Senate File 2216. They also reflect broader, universal skills that cultivate critical thinking and responsible citizenship. They provide us the framework and knowledge to be proactive. When we accept responsibility for our actions because they have consequences for other people as well as for our personal success, we will also understand what it means to solve the problems and face the collective challenges of an increasingly diverse and interconnected world. (OECD, 2005*)

*The Definition and Selection of Key Competencies, or the DeSeCo, Project. Overview. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2005

Essential Concepts and/or Skills


Demonstrate the ability to set goals based on wants and needs

Develop short-term and long-term financial goals.

  • Define goals.
  • Identify a personal goal.
  • Identify a group/team goal.

Understanding needs vs. wants.

  • Define wants and needs.
  • Know the importance of needs and wants.

Identify monetary resources and distribution options for those resources

Develop a realistic spending plan for financial independence.

  • Describe the exchange of goods and services as part of the monetary system.
  • Identify the outcome of spending money.

Understand various sources of compensation.

  • Recognize sources of income for children such as allowances and gifts.

Understand the distribution of resources.

  • Explain spending versus savings.
  • Recognize that items cost money.

Understand financial instruments.

  • Distinguish different types of money (bills, coins).
  • Identify the values of each type of money.

Demonstrate an understanding of the concept of credit

Identify responsible credit management.

  • Discuss the meaning of credit.

Understand different types of debt.

  • Recognize the concept of the money behind the credit.

Understand rights and responsibilities as borrowers.

  • Explain that a borrowed item needs to be returned.
  • Demonstrate that if loaned, an item should be returned.

Develop awareness that each person has an identity

Establish strategies for protection of identity.

  • Describe what an identity is.
  • Recognize that everyone has an identity.

Recognize different types of insurance.

  • Recognize ways people can lose possessions.
  • Demonstrate ways to protect possessions.
  • Recognize the consequences of loss.

Recognize different types of non-insurance protection.

  • Explain how written notes, emails, or phone calls between school and home can help prevent misinformation.
  • Recognize the role of adults in providing safety.

Recognize various ways to save and the reasons individuals decide to save

Recognize investment options.

  • Identify the value of saving.

Distinguish investment options.

  • Explain the difference between a piggy bank and financial institutions.

Understand the relationship between investment risk and return.

  • Explain that something loaned may or may not be returned.

Distinguish between appropriate spending choices

Recognize the local, state, national, and international impact of personal financial habits and actions.

  • Recognize that the Internet connects people around the world.
  • Recognize that people come from various cultures, backgrounds, and home situations.

Demonstrate responsible financial behaviors, at the personal, local, state, national, and international levels.

  • Recognize that individuals have choices in spending and saving.
  • Explain that there are appropriate behaviors and expectations for different settings.


Health Literacy

Health literacy, considered a 21st Century theme by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, is, “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions” (Nielsen-Bohlman, 2004). A health literate person is able to make appropriate decisions about their health as he or she progresses through life, as health care changes, and as societal norms change. The benefits of being health literate influence the full range of life’s activities—home, school, work, society and culture (Zarcadoolas, 2005).

Lack of physical activity and exercise, poor nutritional choices, increased violence, increased substance abuse and other high risk behaviors are serious threats to living a healthy, active life. The essential concepts and skill sets for health literacy provide a framework for building capacity among Iowa’s students to think critically about the decisions that affect health status for themselves, their families and their communities. Learning the concepts will form the knowledge base for the development of attitudes and habits of mind that will lead students to take responsibility for their personal health status. This proactive approach will have profound effects on families and society.

The essential concepts reflect the belief that children need to assess media messages at young ages and then develop critical evaluation skills as they intellectually, emotionally and socially mature (Zarcadoolas, 2005). Children must also take an active role in accessing and appropriately using information which affects their health (Nutbeam, 2000, St. Leger, 2001). Therefore, it is important to integrate the essential concepts and skill sets for health literacy across content areas, providing relevant contexts, problem based and service learning experiences. This will provide students opportunities to practice systemic thinking and problem solving processes that will lead to the creative solutions and proactive policies necessary to enhance health status in an interconnected, global society.

Essential Concepts and/or Skills


Understand and use basic health concepts to enhance personal, family, and community health

Know and use concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention.

  • Identify ways to be healthy.
  • Recognize multiple dimensions of wellness.
  • Describe how physical, emotional, social, and environmental factors influence personal health.
  • Identify ways to prevent illness and injury.
  • Know when and how to ask for help with health care.
  • Identify the impact of personal health behaviors on the functioning of body systems.
  • Recognize that personal health behaviors influence an individual’s well being.
  • List preventive physical and mental health measures, including proper diet, nutrition, exercise, risk avoidance and stress reduction.

Analyze influencing factors on health enhancing behaviors.

  • Identify positive and negative effects of media and technology upon health practices and choices.

Understand and use interactive literacy and social skills to enhance personal, family, and community health

Demonstrate social and communication skills to enhance health and increase safety. 

  • Demonstrate verbal and nonverbal ways to express wants, needs, and feelings appropriately.
  • Choose effective conflict management strategies.
  • Show how to ask for help.
  • Identify ways to communicate care, consideration, empathy and respect for self and others.

Advocate for personal, family and community health.

  • Identify personal health needs.
  • Articulate ways to influence and support others to make positive health choices.
  • Identify ways to improve family and community health.
  • Recognize mean and violent acts and demonstrate appropriate responses.

Recognize critical literacy/thinking skills related to personal, family and community wellness

Demonstrate decision making skills.

  • Understand the interrelationships between decisions, choices and consequences.
  • Recognize the effectiveness of health-related decisions.
  • Recognize the need to ask for assistance when making health-related decisions.
  • Identify that health related decisions have an impact on individual, family, community, and environment.

Demonstrate goal-setting skills.

  • Set personal goals.

Identify influences that affect personal health and the health of others

Analyze the influence of family, peers, health professionals, culture, media, technology, and other health factors.

  • Identify negative and positive health practices.
  • Describe how culture influences personal health choices.
  • Identify trusted adults/professionals who can help.

Access valid information,  products and services.

  • Selects appropriate products for minor injuries or illnesses.

Demonstrate behaviors that foster healthy, active lifestyles for individuals and the benefit of society

Achieve and maintain health enhancing level of physical activity.

  • Practice fitness skills.
  • Practice basic health enhancing physical behaviors.

Practice preventive health behaviors.

  • Identify stress and stress relievers.
  • Identify risk behaviors and practice healthy choices.
  • Identify healthy foods.
  • Identify behaviors that contribute to total wellness for individuals, families and communities.


Technology Literacy

Each Iowa student will be empowered with the technological knowledge and skills to learn effective and live productively.

This vision, developed by the Iowa Core Curriculum 21st Century Skills Committee, reflects the fact that Iowans in the 21st century live in a global environment marked by a high use of technology, giving citizens and workers the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions as never before. Iowa's students live in a media-suffused environment, marked by access to an abundance of information and rapidly changing technological tools useful for critical thinking and problem solving processes. Therefore, technological literacy supports preparation of students as global citizens capable of self-directed learning in preparation for an ever-changing world.

Regardless of current realities, literacy in any context is defined as the ability " access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information in order to function in a knowledge society..." (ICT Literacy Panel, 2002) "....When we teach only for facts ... (specifics)... rather than for how to go beyond facts, we teach students how to get out of date." (Sternberg, 2008) This statement is particularly significant when applied to technology literacy. The Iowa essential concepts for technology literacy reflect broad, universal processes and skills.

Although it is important that current technologies be integrated into all teachers' classroom practices and all students' experiences, it is also important to understand the broader implications of the transforming influence of technology on society. For example, creativity, innovation and systemic thinking are requirements for success in this environment. Technology is changing the way we think about and do our work. It has changed our relationships with information and given us access to resources, economic and professional, that were unimaginable just a few years ago

Technological advances also present societal challenges. It is essential that students have a deep understanding of technology literacy concepts in order to deal with technology's challenges and implications. It is also essential that educators partner with " natives"..., teaching ways to mediate the challenges, and to realize the potential of technology literacy. (Palfrey and Gasser, 2008)

Essential Concepts and/or Skills


Use technology to create projects, identify patterns, and make predictions

  • Use a variety of digital tools and media-rich resources to create projects.
  • Use technology to illustrate and communicate original ideas related to curriculum content.
  • Create multimedia products with support from teachers, family members, and/or student partners for the purpose of display, publication and/or performance. 
  • Use technology resources to identify problems, help recognize and describe patterns, make predictions and/or propose solutions.

Use a variety of technology tools and media-rich resources to work collaboratively with others.}

  • In a collaborative work group, use a variety of technologies to produce a digital presentation or product in a curriculum area.
  • Use technology resources for communicating and sharing ideas with others.
  • Participate in learning activities with or about learners from other countries and/or cultures.

Utilize predetermined digital resources and tools to answer questions or solve problems

  • Follow a plan of action to guide inquiry by using predetermined digital resources.
  • Locate and organize information from a variety of sources and media.
  • Review provided resources, explain why they are or are not useful, and use information appropriately.
  • Identify, read, and report data from charts, graphs, and other sources.

Use technological resources to investigate given questions or problems

  • Use a variety of technology resources to explore questions or problems.
  • Use technology to decide what information to locate and how to use that information to complete a project.
  • Collect and explain data to identify commonalities or solutions to problems.
  • Explore the different ways that problems may be solved.

Understand and practice appropriate and safe uses of technology

  • Understand that stealing information and things others have created is the same as stealing tangible items.
  • Be aware of why it is unsafe for students to provide others with information about themselves.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of communicating with adults about things that might concern them.
  • Understand why technology is useful in helping them complete a task.
  • Use technology to explore personal interests.
  • Demonstrate to others how to use technology tools in ways that assist, rather than prevent, others from learning.

Understand basic technology hardware and software and their application

  • Choose the most appropriate technology tool for a given task.
  • Demonstrate a basic knowledge of how technology is supposed to function and know when it is not working properly.
  • Know when to seek adult assistance for technology problems.
  • Explore new technologies using existing skills and knowledge.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 21, 2014 at 12:03pm.