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Keynote Speaker | Feature

The Three Key Literacies

Heidi Hayes Jacobs, is the founder and president of Curriculum Designers, executive director of the National Curriculum Mapping Institute and Academy, and author of the groundbreaking "Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World." T.H.E. Journal Contributing Writer Jennifer Demski recently sat down with Hayes Jacobs, who will keynote this year's FETC, to discuss why educators must embrace curriculum reform, the impact of the Common Core State Standards on her approach to upgrading curriculum, and her goal for the future of K-12 education.

Heidi Hayes Jacobs, is the founder and president of Curriculum Designers, executive director of the National Curriculum Mapping Institute and Academy, and author of the groundbreaking "Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World." T.H.E. Journal Contributing Writer Jennifer Demski recently sat down with Hayes Jacobs, who will keynote this year's FETC, to discuss why educators must embrace curriculum reform, the impact of the Common Core State Standards on her approach to upgrading curriculum, and her goal for the future of K-12 education.

T.H.E. Journal: What inspired you to develop the curriculum plan you set forth in "Curriculum 21?"

Heidi Hayes Jacobs: In teaching and curriculum design, my focus has always been on choices. It's always been that we, as educators, should be making astute and responsive choices that prepare our students for the future. Unfortunately, it's become clear that the future that many schools are preparing their students for is 1980. Ten percent of the 21st century is over; the question now isn't "whether to," it's "how to." The plan I developed gives teachers and educators a handle on how to reinvent, reboot, and replace aspects of what they teach, and how to modernize and upgrade their curriculum.           

T.H.E.: Curriculum reform can be an overwhelming undertaking. How did you identify and develop your three key literacies for 21st century learning?

Hayes Jacobs: While researching and writing "Curriculum 21," I worked with teachers to explore and identify key areas of instruction that educators should focus on once they've made the choice to upgrade their curriculum. It was immediately clear that new points of articulation and meaning-making had emerged that required students to have the ability to take some of the great classical traditions of print literacy and apply them to new forms of accessing information and articulating response. 

There seemed to be three related but distinctive toolsets--digital literacy, media literacy, and global literacy--that had become key in helping students navigate through the curriculum that they need to master and the investigations that they need to make in order to prepare themselves for right now, let alone for what they'll face 15 years from now when they're in the workplace.            

The Three Key Literacies for 21st Century Curriculum
Digital literacy: Students must have the ability--either through keyboard, voice, or touch technology--to access digital tools, and the knowledge necessary to select the best digital tool for the task at hand.

Media literacy: Students must develop critical and creative capabilities to both receive and assess the quality of messages from all forms of media, and to generate and create quality media of their own.

Global literacy: Students should use digital tools to access a global network of peers and to develop a sense of place and people. Curriculum should provide context and background to further students' understanding of global economies and current events. 

T.H.E.: You are noted for your work in curriculum mapping and standards alignment. How do the three literacies you mention relate to the adoption of Common Core State Standards? 

Hayes Jacobs: I think they go hand in glove. The Common Core strikes me as a great opportunity for schools to upgrade their practice. There is an absolutely clear emphasis on media and digital tools in the Common Core, and the cross-disciplinary English language arts standards mean that students will be developing critical thinking skills and using new media in all disciplines. I am most definitely going to be discussing the relationship between "Curriculum 21" and the Common Core in my keynote presentation because I think this is great news.
           
T.H.E.: Curriculum reform. Common Core. What's next for you?

Hayes Jacobs: New school versions are my biggest goal. That's where my heart is right now. For example, what should school look like? Do students even need to come to school every day, given the technology that's now available? How should schedules be formatted, and how should we be organizing ourselves? What kind of buildings should we have? There are a lot of exciting things going on in our schools and, because of the work I do, I'm fortunate to be able to learn about different models and approaches.

Honestly, I know a lot of terrific people are on the FETC program, and I'm really honored to be there, to give people these tools.

T.H.E.: You speak at a lot of conferences. What do you learn when you attend an event like this?

Hayes Jacobs: I've taught a long time. I've been an educator for many years. I will tell you straight out that I can't think of a better time to be in the field, and I keep learning from everybody, so I'm sure somebody's going to share with me some tool or some approach and I'll be jaw-dropped. I think that's America's little secret: We've got incredibly imaginative teachers of all ages out there using these modern tools to really support student learning, and I look forward to learning from them.

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