Wow, it's been a while since I posted. It sure has been busy, but I really need to get better with that.
I recently saw Heidi Hayes Jacobs speak to a group of teachers in Niles Township, Il. Again, Dr. Jacobs is sort of the "go to" person for Curriculum Mapping. She literally wrote the book on it. Several, really.
She is pretty amazing: funny, challenging, and brilliant. Although she considers curriculum mapping her life's work, she has shifted her focus to helping upgrading outdated curriculum to prepare students for the 21st Century. Although the 21st Century is 10% over, she points out that most curriculum prepares students nicely for 1982.
Students in the 21st century need to be able to produce work socially, build social networks, use multiple media to produce digital portfolios, think globally, and work across disciplines.
And technology needs to be everywhere, infused in everything that we do and our students do.
So, what century are we preparing our students for?
Her new website http://www.curriculum21.com is a wealth of digital resources. Check out the clearinghouse, which features free resources categorized by discipline and vetted by her staff.
For example, take a look at Gapminder World, categorized under Social Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies. If you hit "play", you will see the development of the world's countries from 1800 to present, watching as the countries bounce around according to income per capita versus life expectancy. Even if you're not a math person or a social studies person, it's cool. Question, class: What the heck happened to China around 1959-1960?
Imagine the great conversations, projects, or assessments that could come out of that tool in any number of classes across disciplines.
As we begin to put together our curriculum mapping plan for the coming years, (and we are doing that: much more to come soon) think about how we might gradually start to upgrade our curriculum. Many areas are well on the way to doing this, but we have a long way to go.
In her opinion, students and teachers should be blogging, creating documentaries, Skyping with kids in other countries, podcasting, and creating digital portfolios. For example, imagine if kids created an online profile for Julius Caesar, Holden Caulfield, Atticus Finch, or John Wilkes Booth? What interests would they put down for those figures? How would they present themselves online? Who would their friends be? What events would be on their calendar? What would their status updates be like? Imagine the depth a student could go into developing such a project for a literary character or historical figure. Do you think a student might be a little engaged in that course material?
Or, as Dr. Jacobs says, don't do that. Have them do a poster or oral report instead. That'll hook 'em. And go ahead and laminate that poster, or in her words, mummify it. (I told you: she will challenge an audience)
Those are just a few examples, and that's tough to handle all at once. If nothing else, take a look though the Curriculum 21 clearinghouse. It's a great start for lesson ideas. If you want to learn more about some of those tools, let me or your Department Chair know. Or, you might wander into the creative commons, join the Curriculum 21 Ning, and start to network and learn from other forward-thinking professionals.
Dr. Jacobs challenged her audience to start by changing one assessment or assignment. Just one. Go beyond the standard fill-in-the-blank activity and ask students to create, analyze, or explore using the many tools available to them. More importantly, let's try get them thinking and working in the ways they will need to function in the remaining 90% of the 21st Century: across disciplines, socially, digitally, and globally.