We are an educational non-profit 401(c)(3) located in Austin, Texas
1. A FREE 21st Century Literacy Curriculum
First, we offer a free curriculum. As of now, our curriculum entails a textbook, handouts, videos, and supplementary materials, but we are adding worksheets and more handouts and videos. Our curriculum revises the current conception of literacy to focus it more on science, evidence, and critical thinking. Our curriculum focuses mostly on advanced forms of literacy and critical thinking that 21st century students should be taught in high school and college. In addition, our curriculum also discusses other relevant topics, like how to be a successful college student and a short history of literacy and democracy.
Our curriculum is available via this website. Our textbook is called 21st Century Literacy, which was written by our director Josh M. Beach. This website corresponds with an academic monograph written by Beach called How Do You Know? The Epistemological Foundations of 21st Century Literacy (2018). Beach’s monograph is an advanced discussion of 21st Century Literacy meant for literacy scholars and teachers, while our website textbook is meant for high school and college students, although we are trying to make it more understandable for middle-school students as well.
Since 2016, there have been 7,388 unique users who have visited the website 19,200 times and viewed 46,600 pages. In 2017, we had 3.431 unique users to our website, which was a 130.6% increase from 2016. In 2017, these users visited the website 9,326 times (a 52.9% increase from 2016) and they viewed 22,200 pages (a 79% increase from 2016). Visitors have come from 106 countries around the world, although 91% of the users come from the U.S. The top ten countries by number of users are: US, Philippines, Canada, India, South Africa, Australia, UK, Indonesia, Kenya, and Malaysia.
2. Professional Development through Instructional Coaching
Second, our organization organizes and conducts professional development workshops and teacher training seminars in public high schools, community colleges, and universities. These events would typically last four to eight hours on one day, but could be extended if requested. We primarily use these events in order to share our new 21st century literacy curriculum, especially the concept and practice of science, which is currently neglected in many American K-12 schools. We also discuss the science of teaching and learning so as to help students learn more effectively. We promote “evidence-based practices” and inform teachers about the relevance and usefulness of using scientific research to guide teaching practice. We are not just researchers disseminating knowledge about core concepts and effective practices. We are experienced “instructional coaches” who demonstrate core knowledge and practices while helping develop the professional capacities of teachers. We utilize the cutting edge of curriculum research with specialized curricular materials, which are “designed with the intent of supporting teacher learning as well as student learning” (Davis, et. al., 2017).
3. Training Teachers How to Assess Student Learning
Third, we train teachers to assess student learning. How much do students learn in school? This question has been asked more and more over the last couple of decades. No one really has an answer. Critics have pointed out that schools have always been “faith based” institutions because they have never focused much on academic standards or student learning. For centuries, educational policy makers and administrators simply had faith that their educational institutions worked. Everyone believed that teachers effectively delivered the curriculum through a process called teaching, which automatically resulted in student learning.
But how does one measure student learning in order to hold educational institutions accountable? We not only inform teachers about 21st century literacy and train them to become better teachers, but we also help teachers understand the process of assessment. We show teachers how to measure and evaluate student learning through concrete student learning objectives, which are modeled off of Dr. Andy Grove’s Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) method. Student learning objectives are concrete goals and key results are specific and measurable steps to enable students to complete the goal. Some teachers don’t evaluate student work at all, while other teachers don’t use clear and consistent criteria to evaluate student work, preferring vague and subjective criteria that cannot be objectively measured or evaluated. How can students know that they have learned if they cannot see their own learning? Likewise, how can student fix a mistake if they can’t see and classify their mistakes? We help teachers understand the importance of valid assessment and we teach them how to do it.
4. Personalized Consulting & Curriculum Production
Fourth, we will offer personalized consulting to individual teachers in order to help them solve specific educational problems or teach specific subjects. We will either help teachers develop ideas or create specific curriculum materials, or we produce the curriculum materials ourselves. We are creating a repository of handouts, worksheets, and activities, which will be posted on our website and disseminated through workshops. Our staff is available not only to teachers at workshops, but we also offer our consulting services free of charge to teachers around the world.
5. Interdisciplinary Literacy Research & Public Policy Reports
Finally, we research various topics pertaining to 21st century literacy and the science of teaching and learning, and we use recent research to develop new topics to expand the web textbook. We also write public policy documents for school administrators and public policy makers in order to publicize and disseminate the core concepts of 21st century literacy, especially scientific literacy. We advise public policy makers on issues pertaining to education and curriculum and we publically comment on legislative proposals on education. We promote “evidence-based practices” and we seek to bridge the “disconnect” between researchers, teachers, administrators, and public policy makers by creating practical recommendations and easy-to-use resources.
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