Friday, June 26, 2009

A Twenty First Century Curriculum Unit

I can't help but thinking about the core curriculum units that we'll be marketing at NECC this upcoming week. The units use Google Earth to promote social studies and English/language arts learning. We will be marketing five products:
  • Considering the Realities of the Holocaust
  • Gatsby of the Twenties
  • Okies Head West
  • Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Colonial Economic Regions
Unlike so many of the exhibits at NECC, we make no claims that our units are "cutting edge," particularly not amongst the other kinds of resources that will be available at the NECC exhibit hall. You won't see any new technology at our exhibit booth. But, you'll see something far more important. You'll see an exhibit of resources that will promote the highest quality learning in core subject areas.

Just about every teacher, and every student, has at least heard of Google Earth. Most think of it as a fun toy to zoom in on their house and see what it looks like. Some are a little afraid of it thinking that it might violate some of their privacy. We use Google Earth to promote the highest quality learning. We demonstrate that popular and free technology can engage students in learning about important ideas. We use Google Earth to harness existing web resources, including awesome videos and stimulating pictures, in such a way that students can use them to advance the development of content knowledge and skills.

Our products do not frown upon the learning resources of the Twentieth Century. Instead, we incorporate them into Twenty First Century learning. In order to learn with our units, students will still have to use pens and pencils to respond to prompts. They'll still have to keep paper. But, that's good because most teachers still use pens and pencils. Most core subject area teachers still expect students to write. Of course we don't ask students to write for the purpose of writing. Rather we ask them to write to facilitate higher level thinking. Ultimately, students take their written work and develop multi-media presentations. They transform Twentieth Century learning into learning for the Twenty First Century.

I've always said that the best teachers are the best copy-cats. They know how to use other people's resources and ideas to promote the highest quality learning. I've also insisted that good copy cats can't simply replicate somebody else's work. They have to tweak it to fit their own situation. After all, within the context of education every context is different. Our curriculum resources incorporate the best of others. We've also developed the resources in such a way that teachers should feel fully comfortable adapting then as they see fit.

Stop by Booth 3744 at NECC. If you are not at NECC contact me so that I can send you demos.

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