English Curriculum’s Tired Texts

Name: Needham, Theresa


Brown, D.D. ( 2015, January 25). The crushing boredom of a tired curriculum. Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/01/25/the-crushing-boredom-tired-curriculum/DeKoLpBBjydU3EG7GOYm0J/story.html


Summary: The article’s purpose is the acknowledgement of the elephant in every English teacher’s classroom, mandated curriculum, especially texts. The underlying problem is the requirement to adhere to a standardized and enforced curriculum which removes a teachers’ freedom to individuality select engaging texts for their students, which will support student’s interests and reading  strengths.  Many teachers are required to teach classical literature, which they themselves do not have a passion for; therefore becoming a hard sell to students.

Evaluation: The article is written by a high school student, which perhaps makes the argument he presents that much more compelling.  He argues that without the freedom of choice, everything which happens within the classroom becomes more of a forced context of tired completion rather than the inspired construction driven by creativity. The classroom of today has become hoops which a student must jump through to earn a grade. This is a good read.

What if Students Controlled Their Own Learning?

Kira Koop

ET = Educational Theory and Practice
CA = Curriculum Assessment
CO = Collaboration

IL = Information Literacy and 21st Century Skills

Hutton, P. (2014). What if students controlled their own learning? | Peter Hutton | TEDxMelbourne. [Video] YouTube.com: TEDx Talks.

This resource touches on elements of all four main sections of the course, but mainly resides within the category ET: Educational Theory and Practice. In this video, Peter Hutton describes the situation at his school, TC (for Take Control) in Australia, where the school experience is created by and for the students. Students sit on the panels for hiring teachers, they have input into the curriculum, and they choose their classes. There is no traditional homework assigned, instead, students are required to create a plan each week for 10 hours of “home learning” – whether that’s completing a project begun in class, conducting an experiment at home, or any other idea. The school’s default policy for questions or suggestions from students and parents is “yes”, unless it costs too much, costs too much time, or interferes with another person’s learning.

This is a radical approach to schooling, and it was fascinating to learn about this school’s approach to learning. The idea that students are trusted to know what they wish to learn, after demonstrating a set level of literacy and ability, and are able to choose every single course they participate in (from 120 electives!) is wonderful and mind-boggling. I’m having difficulty imagining this strategy in place at the high school that I graduated from, which was a fairly conservative, religiously-based school. The more I think about it, however, the more I like the idea of empowering students in this way. Each child or teenager at this school must have a very defined idea of their own agency and their own power, which turns the current dynamic of authority-submissive in the classroom on its head. 

U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen Movement

Sannwald, Suzanne

U.S. Department of Education. (2015, October 29). U.S. Department of Education launches campaign to encourage schools to #GoOpen with educational resources. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-launches-campaign-encourage-schools-goopen-educational-resources

Summary: This press release from the U.S. Department of Education announces a new campaign: #GoOpen that aims to expand educational access to openly licensed materials. The move builds upon other trends of open government, but with an emphasis on empowering educators in particular to be able to “find, adapt, create, and share resources” on their own, while respecting copyright. More information about #GoOpen is available at:http://tech.ed.gov/open-education/

Evaluation: This news story is one that I am close to since my school district is one of the ten cohort districts that will be taking on the challenge to “replace at least one textbook with openly licensed educational resources within the next year.” Information regarding this has not been distributed widely within my district, but I was aware that our Superintendent and Director of Instructional Technology traveled last week to Washington D.C. Also, there was recently a form sent to teachers to solicit interest in participating as part of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. I submitted interest, but have not yet heard an update. After reading more about this project, though, I have now written to my district Teacher Librarian colleagues to encourage them to also become familiar with the initiative. I think that this is a critical opportunity for TLs to collaborate as partners in curriculum development, and I have added this as an agenda item to our next district Library Council meeting so that we may inquire with the Director of Instructional Technology regarding ways we may be able to contribute and participate.

Information Superheroes.

Young, Alice

CA-Open Curriculum

CA-Written Curriculum

Information Superheroes.
Frey, S. (2013). Information Superheroes. Knowledge Quest, 41(5), 52-55.

The article discusses responsibilities of school librarians with regard to the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) U.S. education initiative. She acknowledges position statement published by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) on CCSS. She emphasizes necessity of collaborahting with teachers in aligning CCSS into their skill instruction. She also offers tips for promoting informational texts to faculty members creatively.

The author propose that school librarians ought to make the most of their schedule by dedicating to the opportunities to help all staff members. By mastering the CCSS to assist colleagues, school librarians can provide students the education students need to be college and career ready. This article gives a positive overview of the role for school librarians, considering the knowledge of resources they have in hand, it is appropriate for school librarians to disperse their expertise into the educational arena.

Tapping Into the Skills of School Librarians

Young, Alice

CA-Written Curriculum
CA-Assessment Strategies

Tapping Into the Skills of School Librarians.
Church, A. (2013). Tapping Into the Skills of School Librarians. Principal Leadership, 14(3), 44-46.

The article focuses on the role of school librarians in evaluating the teacher’s effectiveness. It states that librarians have knowledge about various areas other than library including information literacy, media literacy and digital literacy. It further presents various scenarios that can be used for analyzing the performance of librarians including formal observation, self-evaluation and portfolio.

This article presents a good breakdown of how school librarians skills set can offer an influence in curriculum. School librarians usually have a background in instructional design with specialization in library and information science. In fact, school librarian’s prospectus consists of 21st century standards, which involve critical skills, dispositions, responsibilities, and self-assessment strategies that integrate with classroom content. They are expert in information literacy, media literacy, and digital literacy skills – all of which may guide and ensure college and career readiness for the student population.

Ravitch and the Common Core

Anusasananan, Chalida


Strauss, V. (2014, January 18). Everything you need to know about the Common 
     Core–Ravitch. Retrieved February 17, 2014, from 
     http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/18/      everything-you-need-to-know-about-common-core-ravitch/ 

Diane Ravitch contextualizes the origins of the Common Core standards and discusses her major objections to them which include: 1) they were not created by educators but rather the testing industry, 2) they were not field-tested to see if the standards widened the achievement gap; in fact, only 30% of students pass and 3) they are not malleable; there is no way for educators to adjust the standards and no revision committee.  Ravitch is well-versed in education and this speech is even a turn from her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System (2011).  

While the Common Core is the reality now in public schools, Ravitch reminds us how they are flawed and gives us fodder for thought in this testing-crazed world.  For librarians, her speech is a push for us to offer and advocated for authentic research opportunities and real learning experiences to young people.

3 Big Shifts That Our Schools Need to Make

Shannon Greene


S McLeod. (2013, October 23). 3 big shifts, 8 building blocks, and some guiding questions.
[Web log comment]. Retrieved fromhttp://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/


Summary: A summary of concrete changes in emphasis that schools could make now to positively impact the learning environment. The 3 big shifts are from low-level thinking to high-level thinking, from analog to digital, and from teacher-directed to student-directed. The 8 building blocks contain subjects such as project- and inquiry-based learning environment; authentic, real-world work; and online communities of interest that supplement and augment more-traditional learning communities.

Evaluation: Excellent and succinct, this article, particularly the 3 big shifts and 8 building blocks, includes many of the subjects discussed in the curriculum of 250 Instructional Design class. The guiding questions would be useful for both professional development and strategic planning discussions as well as daily curriculum planning guides.

World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements

Anna Taylor

ET-Inquiry and Problem-based Learning
IL-Critical Thinking

What if you showed kids failure because life has failure? They learn from it.

John Hunter has shown his students how to learn from failure through his teaching method: playing a game called “The World Peace Game”. Take a look at this short clip below to get the idea.

John’s students are typically 4th graders and use resources like “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu to help learn how to create peace through war and chaos. This game is able to explore creative thinking, empathy, compassion, sacrifice, critical thinking and collaboration. John gives the students the floor to make things happen and serves as a guide and supporter, or as he says “clock watcher”. Pretty amazing. Take a look at the great TED video to find out more and check out his book for even more inspiration!

Open Source Learning

Anna Taylor
Troutner, Joanne, (2011). Open source learning. Teacher Librarian, 38(4), 48-50. Retrieved http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk//launch.aspx?eid=642c1289-bd2b-4778-946a-e2233627efca
What is “open curriculum”? Troutner’s article explains that this innovative way of teaching is basically “a curriculum based on open educational resources”. With this teaching structure, both the student and teacher roles change. Students are now more in charge of their learning. Just as in this class, (LIBR 250), students are encouraged to find information that they want to learn. This forces students to be more involved with their learning while also creating more responsibility for them. The role of the teacher changes because they are now a “gatherer” of information rather than a giver. Just as students become more informed on their subject, so much the teacher. Both teacher and student are learning together with the teacher as a guider. 
If you are interested in learning more about open source learning, Troutner gives some great open educational resources to explore with your students. Most of these sites are free while others are very affordable:
  • Khan Academy- Over 1,800 free videos on math, science, social studies, etc. 
  • WatchKnow.org- Over 22,000 free and educational panel approved video clips in over 3,000 categories
  • Open Culture- Find textbooks, ebooks, films, online courses, audio books, and language classes.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare- Free online course for college students are explored through notes, exams, videos and even complete courses.
  • iTunesU- Find recordings and videos of college course and  K-12 lessons from all over the world.
  • JFK Library- Find audio speeches, digital images, speech texts, etc for social studies. 
  • Wikispaces- Search for other classroom’s open source curriculum for ideas of your own.
  • Take 2 Videos- For $75, students are able to create their own documentary with the help of National Geographic 

All in all, I believe open source learning is a great idea. While it may not be for all students or teachers, it is a process that should be encouraged for all classrooms. Those who may be skeptical could take one unit and test it out to see the outcome. The article also suggests to discuss your learning progress among other staff members at lunch and faculty meetings. With multiple classrooms using this way of teaching, the entire school can becomes involved with one another’s learning.