Tony Gurr

Getting FLUENT with the 5 FLUENCIES…

In Classroom Teaching, Curriculum, Guest BLOGGERS, Our Schools on 01/11/2011 at 3:56 pm

A couple of weeks ago we started a “series” based on the work of those lovely chaps at the 21st Century Fluency ProjectLee CrockettIan Jukes and Andrew Churches very kindly gave me permission to use their new book Literacy is NOT Enough to create a number of “guest-posts” (now, if we could only get more writers to don their “creative commons” hats)!

To date, I have done three posts:

…and I promised that the forth would outline the “spirit” of the 5 Fluencies. Unable to edit down 6 chapters on my own, I got a “help me” message to Ian this morning…

In less than an hour he had done this – Ian, you are “the man”!


At the very heart of the 21st Century Fluency Project are the Five Fluencies. We call them fluencies and not skills because we believe this level of proficiency—not just literacy, but fluency—should be the goal when we are teaching students the basic skills that are essential for functioning in life.

It’s important to note that these are not optional skills for our students, or for us. Everyone living in the 21st century and beyond will need these abilities.

They must be cultivated by every teacher in every subject, and at every grade level. And they will mean the difference between success and struggle for the students of our current Information Age. 


Solution Fluency

Our education system has taught problem-solving in a show-and-tell manner (we show students the problem, and tell them how we got the answer) that has fostered a culture of dependency, rather than discovery. But if you look at today’s economy, you’ll discover that most left-brain tasks are already automated or outsourced via Internet in a global economy, leaving jobs that require whole-brain thinking. This means creativity and problem-solving applied in real time. The 6D system is a logical, thorough, and relevant approach for tackling problems:!”

  • Define the problem, because you need to know exactly what you’re doing before you start.
  • Discover a solution, because planning prevents wasted effort.
  • Dream up a process, one that is suitable and efficient.
  • Design the process in an accurate and detailed action plan.
  • Deliver by putting the plan into action by both producing and publishing the solution.
  • Debrief and foster ownership by evaluating the problem solving process.


Information Fluency

Because of InfoWhelm, data is increasing dramatically, facts are becoming obsolete faster, and knowledge built on these facts is less durable. Information fluency is the ability to unconsciously interpret this avalanche of data in all formats, in order to extract the essential and perceive its significance. Information fluency has 5 As, which are: 

  • Ask good questions, in order to get good answers.
  • Access and acquire the raw material from the appropriate digital information sources, which today are mostly graphical and audiovisual in nature.
  • Analyze and authenticate and arrange these materials, and distinguish between good and bad, fact and opinion. Understand bias and determine what is incomplete to turn the raw data into usable knowledge.
  • Apply the knowledge within a real world problem or simulation using a VIP action (vision into practice).
  • Assess both the product and the process, which is both a teacher and a student practice.


Creativity Fluency

Creativity fluency how artistic proficiency adds meaning through design, art, and storytelling. We are all creative people. This means that creativity can be taught and learned like any other skill. It’s a whole brain process that involves both hemispheres working together. There are 5 Is to Creativity fluency:

  • Identify the desired outcome and criteria.
  • Inspire your creativity with rich sensory information.
  • Interpolate and connect the dots by searching for patterns within the inspiration that align with your desired outcome and criteria from Identify.
  • Imagine is the synthesis of Inspire and Interpolate, uniting in the birth of an idea.
  • Inspect the idea against the original criteria and for feasibility.


Media Fluency

In our multimedia world, communication has moved far beyond the realm of text. Our visual learning capacity needs stimulation with rich media from a variety of different sources. But it’s more than just operating a digital camera, creating a podcast, or writing a document. There are two components of Media fluency—one forinput and one for output.

  • Listen actively and decode the communication by separating the media from the message, concisely and clearly verbalizing the message and verifying its authenticity, and then critically analyzing the medium for form, flow, and alignment with the intended audience and purpose.
  • Leverage the most appropriate media for your message considering your content or message and what the desired outcome is. Then consider the audience, your abilities, and any pre-determined criteria. From here, the application of the other fluencies is used to produce and publish your message.


Collaboration Fluency

More and more, working, playing, and learning in today’s digital world involves working with others. It is the spirit of collaboration that will stimulate progress in our global marketplace, in our social networks, and in our ability to create products of value and substance. Collaboration fluency is the ability to successfully work and interact with virtual and real partners. The 5 Es of Collaboration fluency are: 

  • Establish the collective, and determine the best role for each team member by pinpointing each team member’s personal strengths and expertise, establishing norms, and the signing of a group contract that indicates both a collective working agreement and an acceptance of the individual responsibilities and accountability of each team member.
  • Envision the outcome, examining the issue, challenge, and goal as a group.
  • Engineer a workable plan to achieve the goal.
  • Execute by putting the plan into action and managing the process.
  • Examine the process and the end result for areas of constructive improvement.


Global Digital Citizen

The digital citizen uses the principles of leadership, ethics, accountability, fiscal responsibility, environmental awareness, global citizenship, and personal responsibility, and considers his or her actions and their consequences. The ideal Global Digital Citizen is defined by the presence of 5 main qualities: 

  • Personal Responsibility in ethical and moral boundaries, finance, personal health and fitness, and relationships of every definition.
  • Global Citizenship and its sense of understanding of world-wide issues and events, respect for cultures and religions, and an attitude of acceptance and tolerance in a changing world.
  • Digital Citizenship and the guiding principles of respecting and protecting yourself, others, and all intellectual property in digital and non-digital environments.
  • Altruistic Service by taking advantage of the opportunities we are given to care for our fellow citizens, and to lend our hands and hearts to these in need when the need is called for.
  • Environmental Stewardship and its common sense values about global resource management and personal responsibility for safeguarding the environment, and an appreciation and respect for the beauty and majesty that surrounds us every day.


Our Students, Our Future

In the end, our job as educators should no longer be just to stand up in front of our children and show them how smart we are and how stupid they are. The problem is that, as educators, we simply don’t understand how different our digital generation really is.

Neurologically speaking, kids today aren’t just a little different; they’re completely different.

If we continue to do things that we already know aren’t working, we have to consider just who really has the learning problem … because it certainly isn’t the kids.

  1. Thanks for another great blog post…further thanks to Mr Ian…(Doe).
    I must admit this one had me really thinking. The subject you address is really rather thought provoking and I have to admit I had to look at this post more than once to even start and gather some meaning. I am only a teacher after all and this addresses a much less visited side of my thought process (consciously anyway). Where am I (or other teachers) heading with our lessons and prescribed cirriculum?

    Ultimately at the end of the day we as teachers should keep in mind not only what we teach but how we teach it. Too often has there been tears because of spilt milk and the culprit was good intention(s). It would seem to me that the so called `fluency` could just as easily be referred to as how do we create well rounded individuals for the future. How do we teach him or her to find the correct answer when faced with a problem. Heck do they even know there is a problem. Only if you can identify it, can you rectify it.

    Yes this topic is indeed good food for thought. I just hope more people think about it. However I do believe on a subconcious level we all already are. All over the world we can now follow news of people standing up because they realise there is a problem in theır lives etc. The question is does everybody have the fluencies to know how to tackle these problems we face? In my own life I grapple with issues every day. Be it the driver who does not know how to indicate (ergo drive) or the teacher who creates boundaries between colleagues not realising we follow the same goal. I can`t say I always follow the correct action, but who does?

    No, suffice to say that the right answer is sometimes subjective. However it doesn`t mean we can`t try finding the answer! This seems to me like a great starting point. There are so many angles to this story that really, we havn`t even scratched the surface.


    • Hi Rudi –

      Ian, Lee and Andrew have done some great work over the years – for me this last book just makes so much sense as does the notion of fluency. They talk of it as we do riding a bıke – this is what happens in the real world. Can teachers “teach” that – I’m not sure they should. It’s sometimes more important to get “out of the way” and let the kids develop these fluencies themselves. That is, afterall, part of the problem – we, as teachers, sometimes think we have to “teach” everything – and this where the issue of “packaging” and the cycle of PPP does get in the way of kids learning. 😉

      Glad you liked the post – why not sign up as a Committed Sardine while you are at it 😉

      Take care – have a great Bayram 😉


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