Developing 21st century skills in the classroom

How can we help our students to develop 21st century skills? I would like to help with some classroom activities to foster creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.

Nowadays, teachers are faced with the challenge of equipping students with a long list of skills: creative and critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, collaborative skills, leadership, communicative skills and digital literacies. How can we provide answers to this challenge? I would like to suggest a couple of simple activities that will provide learners with the opportunity to develop their creativity and critical abilities by making new connections to the acquired knowledge after a virtual visit to a museum.


ACTIVITY 1: we become artists

Objectives: Students visit a virtual exhibition of Art objects, choose their favourite one and create a video in which they describe the object to their peers and suggest new ways of using the object nowadays. This video project will enable students to increase their competences as effective communicators with digital technologies and these skills are  and will be essential in their lives. 

Language level: From B1 to C1


Links to virtual exhibitions:

Handouts for the students:

Describing our Art object

Useful words and patterns for your description

Handout for the teacher:

Rubrics to assess students' videos 


Group work: students work in groups of 4/5.

Number of sessions:

4 sessions :

1 session to visit the virtual exhibition, choose their favourite Art object and write the description of the object

1 session to  prepare the video script and create the video clip (There is a wide variety of tools for creating videos. Among them, I would like to suggest Screencastify,  which  is a very good tool to create and share videos easily. It is an extension of Google Chrome which will be very appropriate for your Google Classroom contexts)

1  session to rehearse  because they need to talk in English during the videoclip. 

1 session to share their videoclips with their peers. (The teacher can use "Rubrics to assess students' videos during this session or watch the recorded videos later for assessment)

After this final session, I suggest  sharing the videos  with the rest of the students and the families through the school blog or website. 

Skills: Integrated skills (reading, listening, speaking and spoken interaction and writing)


ACTIVITY 2: our Art auction

Objectives: Students create their own Art object/artifact , bring it to the classroom and prepare a short description of it for and Art Auction which will be held in the classroom.

Language level:

From B1 to C1


Handouts for the whole process:

Handouts for the students: 

The same handouts for descriptions used in Activity 1 plus:

Handout for the auctioneer

Handout for the student who is trying to sell an object

Handout for the students who are going to be “the audience”

Handout for the teacher:

Rubrics to asses students' oral performance 


Several choices are possible: students can create their Art object individually or in pairs. When the Art auction takes place, you will need a student who conducts it and the rest of the students will take turns to sell their objects and bid for others’ objects.

Number of sessions:

This will depend on the number of students and the number of objects but you will need at least 3 sessions (one for the creation process, another one to let students prepare their roles for the auction and the last one for the real auction)

 During the auction you can assess students' oral performance by using the handout "Rubrics for oral assessment". If you choose to do this, students should take turns so that all of them act as either the auctioneer or the person who wants to sell his/her object .

Skills: Listening, speaking and spoken interaction, writing

I hope these activities will be useful for you. I reckon we have a true challenge ahead and our students will be better equipped for their future if we foster creativity, collaboration and critical thinking in our classrooms.


About the author:

Loli Iglesias comes from the Basque Country and has been teaching English at Secondary level for 17 years. She is currently working as a teacher trainer for the Department of Education of the Basque Government. She develops seminars on Professional Development and CLIL. Her main interests are CLIL and ESL methodology . She blogs at

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