This blog post is part of the CM Rubin World Global Search for Education which poses a question each month to leading educators for reflection and sharing. This month’s question is “Do you believe curriculum needs to be more relevant for a 21st-century world? If you had the power to change the school curriculum, what would you change?
As society and technology change, so does the definition of a literate person. Teaching students to read and write through traditional means, paper and text, is no longer the only skill set needed to be considered literate. Literacy is a foundational curriculum component to every discipline. More than that, literacy is “inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities, and social trajectories of individuals and groups.” (NCTE)
The literacy demands of contemporary society require students to be dynamic, multimodal, skeptical, and global. Few, if any, curriculums address these needs in full. It is up to the knowledgeable educator to provide a curriculum that ‘Makes Lit. REAL”. (Relevant, Engaging, Authentic, Lifetime) #MakeLitREAL
When planning units, creating tasks, evaluating curriculum, working with other educators, or coaching PLCs, I continually return to the acronym REAL. This helps to center the conversation, keep students at the forefront of decisions, focuses on the verbs (communicate), not the nouns (tech tool), and provide literacy opportunities that will not only strengthen their skills now but forever more. When you Make Lit REAL, educators see the absurdity of assigning a 7 page, single-spaced, book report and reimagine curriculum and tasks that prepare our students to hone skills needed today, not 20 years ago.
|Consume||2 Dimensional Readers
Unimodal, one way, text on paper. Limited access based on demographics and teacher knowledge/experience
|3 Dimensional Readers
Multimodal, multiple ways, interactive text, media literacy, dynamic infographics, and visuals, etc. Ubiquitous access to information, people, and experts. Healthy skeptics and discerners of information
|Create||Multiple types and purposes but typically done with paper/pencil or word processor||Dynamic, interactive, unique, multiple types and purposes but additional modes (posts, video, audio, visual) that provide student choice and voice|
|Communicate||Contained to classroom or school||Global, allowing students to cross the geographical divide digitally|
|Connect||Contained, local, never talk to strangers||Connecting and building relationships cross-culturally and globally|
|Curiosity||?||Inquiry, design thinking, PBL; developing problem seekers not just problem solvers|
|Contribute||Community-based, volunteering||Developing empathy and ethical responsibilities. Pose and solve problems at a global level. Strengthening collaboration and independent thought.|
Literacy is not only a foundational part of every curriculum it is a cornerstone to us as humans. The traditional curriculum is falling short in providing contemporary students the skills they need in life. When you Make Literacy REAL (Relevant, Engaging, Authentic, Lifetime) and apply this lens to the current curriculum, a clear picture of our past and where we need to head as educators emerge.