Why Skills Win?

Short answer:
Skills Win supports and supplements the Common Core.

Long answer:
The traditional goals embodied in the Common Core and the missions of all K-12 schools are to prepare students for careers, citizenship and post-secondary education.  A white paper entitled The Skills Win Program and the Common Core White Paper shows that more than 75 of the Common Core standards from both the ELA and math standards in New York State are aligned with the 10 Skill Sets. By using this Program, you are teaching to the Common Core.

While the Skills Win Program supports the Common Core curriculum, its philosophy and structure is non-traditional and differs from the Common Core in the following ways:

  • It presents a total of 38 skills rather than hundreds of standards
  • It is written so students can understand the language
  • It calls for formative rather than summative evaluation
  • It can be applied to any content area in both academic and non-academic settings
  • It places responsibility on the student to set the 10 Skill Sets as personal goals
  • It calls for practice and reflection rather than high scores on standardized tests

The Skills Win Program is not a replacement for the Common Core, rather a supplement.

Students Do the Heavy Lifting 
The 10 Skill Sets and 38 Skills can only be developed with experience in and out of the classroom. Instructors should be motivators, coaches, formative evaluators and providers of adult wisdom. Students should do the work.

Skill development requires practice in, and out of the classroom. Classroom presentations should be designed to motivate and highlight key game changers that can help students improve the skills themselves. Each Skill Set video can be used to kick off a discussion on why the Skill Set is important and how students can practice it. In addition, classroom time can be spent giving directions on assignments and having students explain their progress on developing particular skills. Instructors should design and encourage practice to help the student improve on each skill.

Since students tend to value what will impact their grades and lead to credentials, instructors may need the leverage of grades to encourage the students to practice developing these skills. Skill activities should be graded primarily on the amount of time spent by students on serious practice. Rubrics are provided more as guidelines for coaching than as grading protocols. Issuing grades based on proficiency standards or the quality of performance for many of these skills, especially the soft skills, is not advised. This is because students need to learn to self-evaluate most of the skills in the 10 Skill Sets.

A Word of Advice 
The above comments, and material in subsequent links are only suggestions for the effective use of the Skills Win! Program. My work with K-12 teachers and undergraduate college professors over the years has taught me that the individual figures out better ways to instruct their students using the materials and content than I ever could.