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 (

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?***


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…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.