Curriculum: Week of December 16, 2012

What’s Happening:

  • AIS Tech Coaches are out and about instituting large-scale, scaffolded professional development in support of integrating iPads into teaching and learning. Be sure to check out the schedule of tech integration professional development opportunities, in addition to on-demand access to some of their previous presentations.
  • Student literacy is being supported through the teaching of contextual vocabulary and the use of the Cornell note-taking system which helps students to synthesize and apply learned knowledge. Each of these initiatives supports the development of two traits of writing: Word Choice and Ideas respectively.
  • A tool to help teachers evaluate and create quality MYP unit planners in Atlas has been launched and introduced to many teachers during collaborative planning time.
  • NESA Spring Educators Conference! It’s time to start planning to attend the NESA Spring Educators Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference takes place (April 5 – 8, 2013) during AIS’ Spring Break (April 5 –  13). This is a great opportunity to do some professional development and get some rest and relaxation by the pool or on a beach. The early bird registration deadline is March 1, 2013.

Share what is happening in your classroom! How are you using iPads to extend learning in your classroom? How are you making curriculum come alive for your students? Please let me know so that I can share what is happening and provide you the support you need for success.

Guest authors are encouraged to submit their thoughts and ideas for Curriculum Weekley to me via email (

21st Century Thought of the Week:

Copyright All rights reserved by

We are confronted on a daily basis with all kinds of information. Some of it is random. Some of it is trivial. Some of it is bogus. Some of it is of little interest/use. But some of it is vital to growing on a professional and/or personal level, to supporting the inquiry of students in our classrooms, and to feeding our own human curiosity. Much of what we (and our students) tend to do when searching for information online is to:

  1. Open a browser.
  2. Point to Google.
  3. Enter a few words to describe what we want to know more about.
  4. Follow one or two of the first links on the first page that Google offers up.
  5. Read and believe.

When confronted with the amount of information that our students are on a daily basis, it is imperative that they learn how to weed, cull, curate, and make sense of information. In his blog post Become a Google Apps Ninja, Jeff Utecht confirms the issue we, as educators, are faced with in educating learners in the 21st century.

It’s about searching and finding information

Below is a series of grade appropriate lessons created by Jeff Utecht to teach students good information searching techniques. Lessons include such skills as introducing students to Google and simple search syntax, ad placement, authenticating resources, finding resources at appropriate reading levels, and finding current research.

At AIS we are working to help students to make sense of the plethora of information at their fingertips. The use of Cornell Notes in various classrooms is intended to help students drill down through mountains of information to get at the most important ideas. The beauty of the Cornell note taking system is that an entire column of space is reserved for students to inquire about, and make sense of, key concepts. The obvious benefit of the Cornell note taking system is that it sets students up to be able to synthesize information and then to apply newly found knowledge.

Article(s) of the Week:

Infographics are a powerful new tool to use for teaching and learning. Infographics allow students to comprehend, interpret, and analyze complex information in a quick and clear manner. Infographics are not just for consumption though, teachers and students can also challenge the learning process by creating original graphics for themselves. Knowledge is power, but infographics make knowledge powerful!

App of the Week:

Explain Everything

  • What does it do? Explain Everything is a screencasting application that records on-screen drawing, annotation, object movement and captures audio via the iPad microphone. Import Photos, PDF, PPT, and Keynote from Dropbox, Evernote, Email, iPad photo roll and iPad2 camera. Export MP4 movie files, PNG image files, and share the .XPL project file with others for collaboration.
  • How can it be used to support learning? Explain Everything can be used to create tutorials or how-to clips for staff or students. Students could demonstrate their understanding by producing procedural texts using Explain Everything. Professional, interactive presentations can be created right on the iPad, by simply taking a series of screen shots, ordering the images and including any necessary written instructions. When the the visuals are ready, simply hit the little red record button and add your voice-over to the presentation.

Video of the Week:

Blog* of the Week:’s Infographics in Educational Settings  page shares numerous resources to support the creation and use of infographics in educational settings. Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends.

* is not exactly a blog, it’s more of a content curation site. 🙂

Book of the Week:

mindsetMindset: How You Can Fulfill Your Potential by Carol S. Dweck reveals a truly groundbreaking idea-the power of our mindset. Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success-but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals-personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.

Curriculum: Week of May 20, 2012

What’s Happening:

  • Have an iPad app recommendation for the AIS teacher/student iPads? Use the link in the left-hand column iPads @ AIS to find the procedures and online form to make your request.
  • The 4th round of apps are (and have been) available for AIS teacher iPads. Returning teachers, be sure to update iPad so that you have a variety of apps available to you during the summer break.

Do you have something you’d like to share that is happening in your classroom? How are you using iPads to extend learning in your classroom? How are you making curriculum come alive for your students? Please let me know so that I can share what is happening and provide you the support you need for success.

21st Century Thought of the Week:

What’s your plan, Stan?

All rights reserved by Bill Van Loo

Ah, Summer Vacation! The months that teachers allegedly live for. In the education profession we are truly blessed with some amazing down time. After the first few weeks days, I find myself a little lost without the normal routine of a busy and rewarding work day. So, like many educators, I take the gift of time to ride my bike, visit with family and friends, hang out at the beach or the pool, and work towards accomplishing some of my professional development goals.

There are so many opportunities to grow professionally during the summer months. It could be as intense (and expensive) as a university course to move you closer to that graduate degree or additional teaching endorsement, or it could be as laid-back as reading the novels on your upcoming syllabus and spending some time reading a scholarly article or two about the author.

The internet provides each of us with the ability to create our own personal learning plan. Here are some ideas to  get you thinking…

  • ed2go offers lifelong learning and career training courses. I took a great course called “Classroom Podcasting” a couple of summers ago. It was asynchronous (meaning there were no time and place constraints) and was flexible enough to fit into my summer schedule.Ed2go offers numerous course selections listed under Teaching and Education Courses. Cost is $139 for a 6 week course that includes 12 lessons.
  • Create your own program of study using YouTube videos and/or educational blogs. A Google search of your area of interest will get you started.
  • TED offers TED talks that are truly “ideas worth spreading.” Have you heard of the new TED-Ed? This service allows you to view (and create!) “lessons worth sharing.” The “flip this video” button allows you to turn any TED video into a customized lesson that can be assigned to students or shared more widely. You can add context, questions, and follow-up suggestions.
  • Attend a professional conference. They are all over North America and offer great opportunities to connect with teachers from many of our home regions. It is becoming more and more common that conferences will live stream sessions that are free to attend virtually. Also, following the conference hashtag (#) via Twitteris another way to glean ideas and find some great resources. (Of course, this only makes sense if you know about Twitter hashtags.)
    • ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) Conference in St. Louis, Missouri; July 1 -3, 2012.
    • BLC12 (Building Learning Communities 2012) focused on expanding the boundaries of learning in Boston, Massachusetts; July 18 – 20, 2012.
    • CMI12  (Curriculum Mapping Institute 2012) in Saratoga Springs, New York; July 10 – 14, 2012.
    • iste 2012 (International Society for Technology in Education) is the largest educational tech conference in the world with some 15,000 participants in San Diego, California; June 24 – 27, 2012.
  • Online conferencesare another option.
    • LearnNowBC offers free Moodle Meets, one week online courses, or “Professional Learning Potlucks”, led by experienced educators. Moodle Meet topics focus on the resources and skills needed to use technology in the classroom as well as on the skills needed to teach and learn in a virtual environment.
  • Catch a Classroom 2.0 LIVE Webinar. Either live or recorded.
  • Join and explore a NING.
  • Subscribe to a professional newsletter via email.
    • Education Week offers education news and insight
    • eSchool News offers up “technology news for today’s K – 20 educator.”
    • Edutopia for what works in education produced by The George Lucas Educational Foundation
    • the Journal Transforming Education Through Technology

Please share your summer learning plan in the comment section!

Article(s) of the Week:

When people say that the iPad is not a creation tool, it’s mostly because those of us who write this stuff are coming from the perspective of the experienced, advanced desktop/laptop user. Based on that, everything mobile is a disappointment. What is more, I’ve noticed a trend that those who point out its lack of creative potential have often never used it for creative endeavours themselves.

App of the Week:

I am obviously in an app rut, using the same apps over and over. Any suggestions?

Video of the Week:

Another example of what can be done with easy-to-use digital tools:

Zero to twelve years old in under three minutes

Blog of the Week:

I love Mashable! It’s my favorite place to go for information on social media and technology.

Mashable is the largest independent news source dedicated to covering digital culture, social media and technology. Mashable’s 20 million monthly unique visitors and 4 million social media followers have become one of the most engaged online news communities. Numerous studies and leading publications have declared Mashable the most influential online news outlet and a must-read site.

Infographic of the Week:

Curriculum: Week of April 15, 2012

What’s Happening:

  • Taking Charge of your Professional Development is coming to you as an end-of-the-year professional development opportunity. This will be a series of three one-hour long workshops. Watch here for further details!

21st Century Thought of the Week:

Some rights reserved by Sergiu Bacioiu

In the article, Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, George Siemens asserts that “as knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses.” In other words, the knowledge that we are able to come by in a spontaneous manner is paramount to the knowledge that we own at any given moment. The ability to quickly glean useful, reliable information is a clear priority in the 21st century. The creation of a network is crucial in the set-up of being able to access knowledge tomorrow that one doesn’t even know is needed today. A robust network of numerous connections serves to strengthen the knowledge base at our fingertips.

In the 21st century the ways in which we are connected are ever-changing. These connections  take the notion of “six degrees of separation” to a new level. In fact, through various social networking models, we may actually be decreasing the number of steps (or clicks) between individuals.

According to a study of 5.2 billion such relationships by social media monitoring firm Sysomos, the average distance on Twitter is 4.67. On average, about 50% of people on Twitter are only four steps away from each other, while nearly everyone is five steps away.

In another work, researchers have shown that the average distance of 1,500 random users in Twitter is 3.435. They calculated the distance between each pair of users using all the active users in Twitter.

It is through these varying degrees of separation that we establish requisite connections to knowledge, knowledge that we don’t even know we will need. Therefore, when we are confronted with a situation that requires knowledge that we do not possess, we can activate our connections via Twitter and other social media sites. We drop our pebble in hopes that it will create a ripple in the sea of users. When the correct series of connections are made, the knowledge that we seek will eventually flow back to us to answer our questions and to increase our knowledge.

Awareness vs. Unawareness

As educators, we often anticipate the needs of students. In turn, educational leaders also anticipate the needs of teachers by anticipating what they will need to know in order to facilitate student learning. Student skills and teacher skills are greatly impacted by anticipating the knowledge necessary to learn or strengthen a new concept. Such a process is facilitated when supports are provided in order to scaffold the development of key learnings. This is of particular importance at the introductory stages of new concepts. As learners demonstrate increasing levels of  competence, the supports become fewer and less necessary.  Growing skills that build towards mastery can make scaffolding a clear cut activity.

Perhaps a key new skill is the ability to engage in, what I will call, “anticipation scaffolding.” Since, according to Siemens, “our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today,” it may be advantageous to create a systematic series of steps to anticipate what we don’t know. As Siemens points out “when knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill.” So, it is through established social network connections that we can most easily practice anticipation scaffolding by accessing and growing a knowledge base before we even know that we will need it.

The initial stage of anticipation scaffolding is the ability to recognize what we need to know. In general, this is relatively easy. I know that I don’t need to know the particulars of string theory. The day-to-day flow of both my personal and professional lives will not be affected due to my ignorance of this topic. On the other hand, there are many things that I do need to know in order to be successful in the various facets of my professional life as a curriculum coordinator. The knowledge that I need shifts depending on the curriculum project that I am working on. Most recently I have needed to know and understand the steps of Backward Design planning, current standards in Physical Education, and how to establish student outcomes as they relate to Mathematics curriculum. All of this needed knowledge, once identified, was easy to find using various social network connections including Google, Twitter, and real world colleagues.

The next stage of anticipation scaffolding is the ability to recognize what we don’t know. But how can we recognize what we don’t know? Perhaps using diverse social networking connections can help us to recognize what we don’t know. Information aggregators  such as Google Reader and Netvibes allow the creation of a knowledge base of our choosing by subscribing to blogs. These blog collections are always available and regularly updated. Through reading blogs of our choosing, our knowledge base increases. In addition, personalized magazine applications like Zite and interest-based web surfing applications like StumbleUpon increase exposure to new and unfamiliar ideas. Each exposure to a new idea is a support in the scaffolding of the knowledge that we do not possess, of the many things that we do not know. One seemingly insignificant reference today could be the springboard that directs/supports what we need to know tomorrow. This exposure to knowledge becomes the anticipation scaffolding of tomorrow’s learning.

Once what we don’t know is recognized, then we can choose to act on and grow what we are learning. We may find that the “connections created with unusual nodes support and intensify existing large effort activities.” This idea underscores the importance of establishing diversity in our connections to increase exposure to knowledge that we are able to access during the process of anticipation scaffolding.

Article(s) of the Week:

Technology In Education – Why?

When students were succeeding in school with no technology, we were also living in a world with little technology, and preparing students for life in a world where technology wasn’t a part of their daily lives.

App of the Week:

    • What does it do? Flipboard is a digital social magazine that aggregates web links from your social circle, i.e. Twitter and Facebook, and displays the content in magazine form on an iPad. Fill Flipboard with the things you like to read, from niche blogs to publications like Rolling Stone and Lonely Planet, and use Instapaper or Read It Later to save articles to read later. Flipboard creates a single place to enjoy, browse, comment on and share all the news, photos and updates that matter to you. In addition to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you can flip through your newsfeeds and timelines from Google Reader, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Flickr, 500px, Sina Weibo and Renren on Flipboard.
    • How can it be used to support learning? Flipboard can be used by learners of all ages to curate information and create educational resources for personal or classroom use, including:
      • Easily keep up to date with educational blogs in your Google (RSS) Reader
      • Link to classroom Twitter / Facebook / blog accounts to share links, pictures, and photos with students and their parents. Verify school permissions before using social networks with students.
      • Subscribe to newspapers around the world
      • Explore texts & online media written in foreign languages
      • Create virtual textbooks (example)

Video of the Week:

What kid’s are capable of with a little imagination, support from adults, and social networking.

Blog of the Week:

allthingslearning is the blog of educator Tony Gurr. According to Tony, his blog is “for educators and teachers who are interested in making a real difference to the lives of their students, their colleagues and their organisations – basically, people who are interested in “doing business” differently in education.” Many thought-provoking posts to be found here!

Book of the Week:

Metaphors & Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching Any Subject is the latest focus of the Middle School staff book discussion group. Metaphors and Analogies are among the instructional strategies identified in the category of “Identifying Similarities and Differences” in by Robert Marzano’s What Works in Schools. Everyone is welcome to join the book group discussion which meets on Monday @ 7:00 a.m. in the staff lounge on the third floor.