Posted on 01/13/2015 at 11:32 AM by Liz Determan

Since the introduction of the Iowa Core, teachers in Iowa are continuing to try to determine what the essential concepts and skills are that students must know and be able to do.  As we consider what these essential concepts and skills are, it is important for teachers, especially at the middle and high school level to be looking for ways to include three specific goals as part of these new “standards”.  If we look at New Jersey as an example, they included (1) address global perspectives; (2) employ 21st century digital and networking tools; and (3) identify salient interdisciplinary linkages fro real-world applications.

“There has been an impressive emphasis in their rethinking of curriculum frameworks and standards to thoughtfully clarify work based on a range of meaningful essential questions, mapped vertical articulation, balanced literacy, formative assessments, and future career proficiencies” (H.H. Jacobs, 2010).

As schools work to align to the Iowa Core, it will be critical to include the universal constructs, the 21st century concepts and skills and sincerely recognize the need for our students to develop the necessary skills that will equip them for their futures.  We have to update our curriculum, make the critical revisions and replace the outdated and irrelevant content we are still forcing students to memorize for the test.  Jacobs refers to these changes as a “growth” model instead of a “change” model.  Growth refers to the kind of mindset any professional would need to have to continue to develop and move forward in their careers.  The following myths must be put to an end:

“The good old days are still good enough.” – It is easy for those of us who have been in education for a long time, and really even teachers who are just entering the profession, to work harder at keeping things the same, believing it was good enough for us so it will be good enough for our students today.  The reality is that we must hard at creating and sustaining engaging innovation, and restructure learning to be student-centered.


“We’re better off if we all think alike – and not too much.” – There must be “a genuine and engaging emphasis on ideas is necessary in determining the curriculum.  We should be fearless about ideas and openly engage in discussion and debate about what should matter in the subject matter.”


“Two much creativity is dangerous – and the arts are frills.” – “Curriculum should not only focus on the tools necessary to develop reasoned and logical construction of new knowledge in our various fields of study, but also should aggressively cultivate a culture that nurtures creativity in all of our learners.”


“Curriculum 21:  Essential Education for a Changing World” edited by Heidi Hayes Jacobs, ASCD, 2010.

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