This is written to endorse the necessity of the 4 C’s to ensure high-level learning. I will also include two more C’s, connect and community, that are also crucial components in our 20 year learning model.
I formed the efg Curriculum Collaborative in 1994. This was a collaborative group of educators, futurists, organizational experts, and business partners with a mission to prepare students with the skills necessary for life, work and citizenship in the 21st Century. We connected learning in schools to the real world and the student’s future. The latest technologies, available at the time, were utilized with this integrated curriculum.
The EFG curriculum design, originated by Joel A. Barker, Futurist and developed by the EFG Collaborative includes the study of ecological topics such as water, energy, land, and recycling. The futures topics include: economics, business, communication, designing / building, and sports. The global topics include: health, the arts, travel, weather, and government. Students investigated an EFG real world issue or topic, from a local and global perspective. They utilized critical thinking skills to research up to date information, compile data, conduct economic analysis of the topic, compare viewpoints to separate fact from opinion, and investigated relevant careers. Students’ communicated with peers, between and across grade levels, and with experts in the community and online. They collaborated in teams to create a portfolio of work. This portfolio included all subjects in the analysis of the real world topic. Community service was encouraged in each investigation and parents were encouraged to share their personal and business expertise. The creative presentations were communicated to, and adjudicated by, school district officials, business and community leaders, and online experts using the EFG Assessment Matrix.
Educators collaborated in cross grade level teams with university departments and business leaders to understand the latest real world information. They collaborated at summer and business conferences to communicate and compare implementation and assessment strategies. The ten summer conferences were held in the US and England. EFG educators collaborated with me to present this model at business partnership conferences in Washington DC, France, Norway, Canada, and New Zealand. We communicated the global perspectives and collaborated on critical learning options. Workshops were held at 21st Century Academy, a K-12 magnet school established to implement the total EFG curricular model. These workshops were designed as a venue for students to present their portfolios of work and be judged by the educators in attendance at the workshop. In addition online environment fairs were held where students submitted all investigations, work, and service projects to an online audience. Educators and experts from across the US judged this student work. A large corporation donated the prizes for students and teachers.
My experience, working with these students, educators and business partners in twenty-three states and five countries, has convinced me we must connect learning in school to the real world and the student’s future. Our EFG curriculum was developed, using the latest tools, techniques and technologies that were available at the time. We worked with a wide range of student abilities in very diverse populations. We have demonstrated results in rural, suburban, inner city, charter, private, parochial, home, and university lab schools. It’s been adapted for after-school clubs, tutoring programs, and summer schools. Over the years we have partnered with large corporations, small business and individual experts to obtain real world information and understand future career skills. This anytime/anywhere methodology allowed the students to connect learning in school to the rest of their lives, motivating all of them to learn at a higher level. These collaborative strategies and the standards based EFG Curriculum have improved over time, as technology has simplified up to date research, investigations and online portfolios and exhibitions.
Today’s kids continually use technology! As educators or learning leaders, we must connect their online searches, interactions, blogs, texts, and tweets to support critical thinking and advanced learning. Students, teachers, parents, partners, tutors, mentors and clubs are utilizing our teaching strategies today. At www.itsthekids.org we have Explorers who take students on a Quest to understand each real world topic. Each Quest contains a geographic search, a quiz, and a photo album to help students “see” the world. Students are encouraged to publish an essay in our online Academy describing one of these photos or submit their own photo and essay supporting their personal investigation. Our Guide for each Quest contains investigation prompts in every subject and collaborative options for parents and business / community partners. We only publish responsible student work and never communicate student identities. To maintain this standard we require the purchase of a minimum of one Guide. This purchase provides a membership in the Collaborative and allows students, educators and parents to publish appropriate stories, essays and photos. Our Guides and other materials are available in the Book Store at www.itsthekids.org. To get more implementation ideas my book, “It’s The Kids – Forty Years of Innovations in How We Educate our Children,” is available in print and downloadable versions also in the Book Store. It communicates the history of this learning collaborative in detail.
You can now go to our Academy at www.efgexplorers.com to read previous stories and to see your own stories, news reports and photo essays published.
We continue to evolve based on the changes in technology and the world. However, the mission of this collaborative continues to be:
Preparing students for their future: life, work, service & citizenship! Please join us in the mission!