Curriculum Points: Week of December 8, 2013

What’s Happening:

  • Kuwait International Educators’ Conference – January 24-26. This biannual event held at Al Bayan Bilingual School offers many PD opportunities, including from two of our Tech Coaches: Lissa Layman and Jeff Layman. Check out the information here (Kuwait International Educators’ Conference) and take advantage of a great way to use your professional development funds right here in Kuwait!
  • Working with small groups. Try a jigsaw collaborative note taking/presentation activity! Students are given a 30-45 minute lecture video to watch (or reading assignment). They use a shared Google document (or Google presentation) to make notes, observations, or pose questions. Build in accountability by assigning individual responsibilities that are highlighted in yellow in the document. Collaborative documents can then serve as the basis for in-class discussions that not only summarize the information, but allow students a strong base upon which to extend the ideas from reading and lecture assignments. Formative feedback can be provided by the teacher using CAPITAL LETTERS. Students could also be assigned to use collaborative note taking to consider content from multiple perspectives.
  • Tech integration. All English 9 students used PowerPoint or Prezi to present their Individual Oral Commentaries (IOCs) on The House on Mango Street. Students analyzed the theme and social issues addressed in specific vignettes through the examination of literary elements such as characterization, and figurative language. Creating engaging presentations was the tech integration focus with grade 9 English teachers referencing  Teacher Presentations Can Be Good, recently presented by AIS Tech Coach, Jeff Layman.

*Special thanks to Jeff Lowman and Aimee Wagner  for sharing!

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 Weekly to me via email (christina.botbyl@ais-kuwait.org).

Curricularly Speaking:

“Big c” curriculum. “Little c” curriculum.

la Tour Eiffel, an example of "big c" culture (personal photo)

la Tour Eiffel, an example of “big c” culture (personal photo)

When I was a French teacher, integrating francophone culture into my teaching was a regular occurrence. In fact, teaching the cultures of the target language was an expectation. In order to have a well-rounded second language education, as the theory goes, students must come to understand the influences of the different types of culture. There is Culture (“big c” culture) and there is culture (“little c” culture). Addressing the “big c” culture of the francophone world includes its products, e.g., the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, Les Miserables, the art of the Impressionists, Le Petit Prince. The “little c” culture of the francophone world, on the other hand, would include its plethora of practices, e.g., social networking habits,  family meal time, non-verbal communication, music videos by popular French rock groups. The nuances of “big c” and “little c” culture can be used to define the nuances of curriculum.

Big c. In education, we have Curriculum, which is what students should be able to do as a result of classroom instruction. The products of “big c” Curriculum include the concepts, the content, and the skills which are informed by standards, benchmarks, learning expectations, specific outcomes, anchor standards, and assessments.

Little c. Then there is curriculum. This is how we teach and assess in order to meet the expectations of the Curriculum. The curriculum encompasses the practices that guide how to deliver the Curriculum and how to assess student learning. The curriculum is where the ideas and the theories come to life. The day-to-day interactions with students that occur as a direct result of unit planning, essential questions, related concepts, assessment criteria and rubrics, lesson planning, literacy objectives, tech integration, students will be able to… statements, instructional strategies, student engagement, TOK connections in the DP, transdisciplinary skills in the PYP, and Approaches to Learning skills in the MYP.

The Curriculum is the domain where the thinking of a Curriculum Coordinator can often be found, while classroom teachers are more typically focused on curriculum. Of course, anyone in either role can easily make the shift in thinking at any moment. Therefore, it is vital to engage in conversations where the topic is clarified from the outset: is this a conversation about “big c” Curriculum or are we talking about “little c” curriculum? Chances are this simple clarification will lead to productive conversations that will move both Curriculum and curriculum forward.

Like the diverse aspects that create the rich Culture/culture of the francophone world, a rigorous and balanced educational environment is achieved when the Curriculum/curriculum are given the attention that each deserves. Together the what (Curriculum) and the how (curriculum) provide a complete educational experience that will positively impact student achievement.

***How would you define or describe Curriculum and/or curriculum?***

WEB WANDERINGS

Article of the Week:

  • Beyond Bookmarks with Flipboard. An effective way to collect Internet resources for yourself and to share with friends, family, colleagues, and/or students.

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 professional blog reading
      • 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:

Collaborative Group Work with the 1-3-6 Protocol

A quick 2:30 video demonstrating the 1-3-6 protocol. This protocol is an extension of the Think-Pair-Share which allows students an opportunity to work individually and in smaller groups in order to build their confidence before moving to a larger group setting. This is a strategy for any grade level and any subject area that will get students to think, share, and expand on curricular concepts and content.

Book of the Week:

mtv Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners, by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison.

from Amazon.com…Visible Thinking is a research-based approach to teaching thinking, begun at Harvard’s Project Zero, that develops students’ thinking dispositions, while at the same time deepening their understanding of the topics they study. Rather than a set of fixed lessons, Visible Thinking is a varied collection of practices, including thinking routines, small sets of questions or a short sequence of step, as well as the documentation of student thinking. Using this process thinking becomes visible as the students’ different viewpoints are expressed, documented, discussed and reflected upon.

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.