Spotlight on Education: 21st-century learning at OHDS

Schools today are challenged to combine the best pedagogical practices of the past in an ever-evolving present. In addition to the core subjects, teachers must weave in 21st-century interdisciplinary themes such as Global Awareness, Civic Literacy, Innovation, Information and Media Literacy, Adaptability, Communications and Leadership Skills.

For OHDS students, 21st-century learning includes studying Jewish text from a book while the netbook at their desk spews a myriad of commentaries from resources new and old; Skyping with Israelis to research life on the kibbutz; and accessing detailed records from the Shoah. It’s an education like we’ve never seen before.

With all the focus on 21st-century learning, OHDS has found that solid Research Skills remain key to student success. As students swim through the sea of information available, they are asked to be critical, efficient, effective, safe and ethical as they locate, evaluate, learn and use information. Being able to sort through both print and media sources to find facts and apply information to the real world is an essential skill.

At OHDS, even our young first-grade engineers are budding researchers as they prepare a simple presentation about a famous structure, be it the Pyramids, Eiffel Tower or Great Wall of China. Second-graders read in depth about caves, canyons and more as they augment their study of Earth’s landforms through in-depth research, a skill they take to a new level when writing their spring Dinosaur reports.  This year, fourth-graders will not only research Native Tribes but undertake a second research presentation on Women Inventors.

By middle school, our students are ready for a more comprehensive level of rigorous research. Whether researching environmental issues in sixth, cause and effects of nutrition in seventh, or culminating their research experience by writing an I-Search Thesis (a self-selected research topic supervised by an academic adviser), OHDS students learn to work across the disciplines and combine strong reading and writing skills with content area knowledge.

When compared to the newly adopted California Common Core Standards, OHDS was clearly well ahead of the game, surpassing and pushing further in 21st-century learning. We welcome you to see OHDS for yourself! Contact Melanie Marcus in the Admissions Office at or (510) 531-8600 to schedule a personal tour of the campus.