Table of Contents

Unit 1: Teaching and Learning the Standards for Mathematical Practice

1.3.4 21st Century Skills

"Solving problems that haven't been solved before, finding proofs, puzzling, understanding patterns and finding meaning in statistics all require critical thinking, creativity, innovation and information literacy"

P21 Common Core Toolkit, p. 8

At the heart of the CCSS for Mathematics is a mandate to prepare ALL students for college, career, and life. To do so effectively, students must have an opportunity to develop the skills, processes, and knowledge that will prepare them for the challenges that they will face. These skills are known as 21st Century skills.

In California, 21st Century skills refer to:

  1. Creativity and innovation — including, but not limited to thinking creatively, working creatively with others, and implementing.
  2. Critical thinking and problem solving— including, but not limited to, reasoning effectively, using systems thinking, making judgments and decisions, and solving problems.
  3. Collaboration— including, but not limited to, working effectively in diverse teams, adapting to change and being flexible, demonstrating initiative and self-direction, working independently, demonstrating productivity and accountability, and demonstrating leadership and responsibility.
  4. Communication— including, but not limited to, communicating clearly and effectively through reading, writing, and speaking.
  5. Construction and exploration of new understandings — knowledge through the integration of content from one subject area to another and multiple modes for demonstrating innovative learning.

Source: Education Code Section 60207(d)

The above 21st Century skills are strongly related to the SMP. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) provides examples of how the 21st century skills relate to the SMP in its publication, P21 Common Core Toolkit: A Guide to Aligning the Common Core State Standards with the Framework for 21st Century Skills (p. 8), and is summarized in the table below:

21st Century Skill

Mathematical Practices

Critical thinking and problem solving

  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively
  • Model with mathematics
  • Look for and make use of structure


  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
  • Attend to precision
  • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning