Tag Archives: curiculum

Heidi Hayes Jacobs – Essential Curriculum Now!

Again, I am attempting to blog this as it comes along so forgive typos or other errors (including poor organization) as I’m writing and publishing as I go along.

The next speaker on the venue is Heidi Hayes Jacobs, innovative curriculum designer and founder of Curriculum21. Her specialty is in modern curriculum reform in the 21st century.

The first program that she highlighted was Prezi – asking us how many had played with the program and incorporated it to our classroom. She highlighted that it was a good program for introducing information, but not a sustained genre. As 21st century educators, we choose the form that matches the need.

We need to learn these tools to develop our teaching and learning, but that we need to continue our understanding, incorporation, and learning of new tools and materials.

  1. How can we prepare our learners for their future?
  2. Who owns the learning?

Raise any issue you want in the classroom, so long as it’s in the students best interest. Our own comfort levels (e.g. technological incorporation) is not up to us as the educator – it’s about what is best for the student. Students need to own their own learning.

She focuses on new technologies not as new distractions, but as radical shifts in pedagogy. Whatever we are working on, the tools we choose to use are necessary for helping our students to develop their learning and prepare them for the future. It’s not about the tools – but how we use and integrate them. People do bad things with smart boards. My favorite quote on this topic (my own – so I’m self bragging – a hammer can be used to bash in someone’s brains, but it’s also a great tool for hammering in nails).

She asked us to think about this key feature when teaching: “What year are you preparing your learners for?” I think the reality of this answer, for most of us is…. now. And that’s not necessarily fair to our students. We should try to prepare them for future – 10, 15, or 20 years from now. Dr. Jacobs argues that we are preparing our students for the 90s,

“We’re preparing Anna for 1995 ‘cuz we’re happier that way.”

We live in a  world where we have a 19th century academic schedule and a 20th century curriculum. If things don’t feel threatening and new, then we’re not progressing. She argues that writing curriculum using old tools is not only problematic – it’s detrimental. She put up an old picture of the ditto machine. While I never used one as an educator, I remember them. At the end of the school day I was a little light headed from the fumes and my school clothes were covered with a purple inky-dust. Ruined most of them. If you were born after 1985, you’ve never heard or seen one of these (and you don’t want to see one – let alone use it). Her point was that technology becomes obsolete and we shouldn’t build curriculum around it.

Using dated materials in schools is dangerous and ignoring the world in which we live. News is now by the minute. Reading a newspaper for your ‘up to date news’ is laughable. Schools need to use net based tools (in our country and developing nations). Tools of today (that we should be teaching our students)?

  • Blogging
  • Video Chatting (interviewing)
  • Photography
  • Writing

If you notice, these are all elements part of the “6 C’s” discussed in my previous post: “Difficult, Courageous, & Fierce.” New tools can teach our students these elements.

The other focus was that it’s not about the continuing education of the students – but the teachers as well. We as educators need to continue our pedagogical training, educational training, and professional development. Curriculum is never stable – it should be consistently developing and evolving as the world around us does.

Are students processing information differently now than they were just a few years ago? Of course they are! New tools and materials are changing the way that children engage with the world and absorb material. For example, she highlighted the role of Wikipedia – a place where users go and share and modify information (and is now as accurate as the encyclopedia Britannica). 

She also highlighted the need of joining a Professional Learning Network online. I belong to a few of those: 1:1 Connect (an evolving community), Professional Learning Practices, as well as various nings, and a number of Diigo educator groups.

We need to focus on Digital Literacy, Media Literacy, and Global Literacy (which new technology and tools enable us to do things that were impossible only a few years ago. Digital Literacy is about active and strategic selection of information – especially on the web (where they all go for information). She highlights these tools are her website: Curriculum21 – Clearinghouse. There are a lot of cool things here – be sure to check them out!

As she states, this is about the thoughtful development and application of available technologies. However, schools also need to stop banning resources or making them accessible (even if only by appointment). Engaging students and the world around them.

Using these technologies, using dated pedagogy and techniques or not is a choice. However, it does mean that we, as educators, need to stay up to date on the materials and tools. The onus is on us.

She ended her talk with the argument that there are three types of pedagogies: dated, classical, and the new pedagogy (with student guided learning). We should not be afraid of students owning their own learning.

She ended with the promoting the idea that all students who graduate from your school should design an “app” and participate in the TED program.


Also, check out Jonathan Martin’s blog on the same talk.