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Six Years Into G21

Last week, at the VSTE annual conference, I attended a session about project-based Language Arts classrooms. During the Q&A at the end of the session, I mentioned our G21 framework and a project from a teacher at GMS. The teacher next to me listened, and when I finished, she said, “Oh, you guys copied our idea!”

My first reaction was to be offended. We launched our G21 initiative in the fall of 2008. We blogged about it, met with teachers, did a lot of persuading. By the spring semester, John Hendron and I were busy presenting at conferences about our framework and what we were seeing in classrooms. By the end of the year, we had incredible projects to share. By 2010, Henrico launched its own initiative. More recently, Isle of Wight put together its i-sle21 program. I know there are other “(insert your word or letter)21″ initiatives out there that have emerged as we refined our ideas over the past six years.

My second reaction was to think, “Well, this is so good nobody can fathom that a small county like Goochland actually did this!”

I am not sure which school division the teacher represented. I don’t know that it really matters. Who came first, second, or third is not as important as how much of a difference these ideas are making in the lives of students, in Goochland and other counties. I’ll file this under “Fair Use” and ┬áhope the teacher who spoke to me is letting her students really grow and learn in her classroom.


  1. Just for the record, Henrico started their 21st century initiative in 2005 with our TIP Chart (21st century rubric), followed by Reflective Friends in 2008 (reflective practice) and an awards ceremony, Henrico 21 in 2009, that celebrates excellence in 21st century instruction and the amazing products our kids produce. Our site was an offshoot of Henrico 21 but a part of a much larger initiative. Goochland has done an amazing job with their G21 process and site. I’ve loved it since you and John shared it with us when you first began. It’s awesome to have so many people in our area focused on 21st century skills.

    • Right. Henrico was doing lots of things prior to 2009, but had not yet implemented a project-based, student-centered program with an end-of-the-year awards ceremony. Goochland and all the surrounding counties were also promoting 21st Century Skills much earlier. I was referring specifically to the student piece and the awards, since the person I spoke to was very dismissive of anything anyone outside of Henrico had accomplished. We all work within the scopes of our budgets and sizes of our staffs, but we all do good work. It is important to keep in mind that this is not a competition, but a collaborative effort to move our entire country forward in the field of education.