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.
- Parent/Community Groups
- State Government
- Local Government
- Colleges and Universities
- Standardized Tests
- Education Commissions and Committees
- Professional Organizations
- Special Interest Groups
- Federal Government
Chaltain, S. (2013, March 5). Seeing curriculum through a child’s eyes [web log post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/civic_mission/2013/03/_seeing_curriculum_through_a_childs_eyes.html
In this article, the author describes the teaching method at Mission Hill School in Mass. This school premises its educational model on recognizing students as individual learners with unique learning styles and learning pace. As such, teachers work with the same students for two years in order to develop a more in-depth and personal knowledge of each student’s learning and to monitor their progress with their individual learning goals. Moving away from worksheets, regurgitation and memory drills, the school promotes hands-on experience and exploration. Further, teachers have authority at Mission Hill to help influence and design their curriculum, based on their understanding on the front line as teachers. The author compares this type of education, which is funded largely on creativity, individuality and flexibility, to his daughter’s education, which is limited to paper and pen activities and so on. The article also includes a short video on Mission Hill School. My favorite quote from the video comes from the school principal, who says “If we want children to be inventors, we have to give them opportunities to invent; if we want them to be artists, we give them lots of opportunities to create art; if we want them to be problem-solvers, we give them moments of independence to figure out things for themselves.” What a refreshing perspective from a school administrator!
I definitely recommend taking a few minutes to read the article and watch the video – both are valuable and inspiring.
C Coggins. (2013, February 13). An opportunity to talk about testing. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/02/13/21coggins.h32.html?tkn=ZMCCi%2Fv3ggFaLRGi%2BdkGNUbHBUKADFun%2BrvL&cmp=clp-sb-ascd
Teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School have boycotted against the Measures of Academic Progress assessment, which has helped spur the debate on whether or not assessments are right, wrong, or somewhere in between. Teachers unions, like the Chicago Teachers Union and United Teachers Los Angeles, have taken stands of solidarity against using assessments. The writer says that assessments in schools are here to stay, but what is needed is teacher input into how to make better assessments.
As a former teacher, I did not see the value of California’s state standardized tests. Students would be assessed in the spring, when maybe 80% of that grade’s curricula was taught, and then I would not even get the results of how that cohort did until the fall. Two things wrong with this (though there are more), are that students were assessed when the whole year wasn’t even finished, so that pushed me to try to teach everything by the time the state tests were to be administered. This led to a very frantic pace for my former school district, so much so that we teachers were put on curricula pacing calendars. There was little room for deviation from the pacing calendar, and little room for constructivist teaching and learning. To be efficient with time, we had to use the textbook and follow the pacing calendar.
Another thing wrong with the state standardized test was that the results for that spring’s assessment was only available in the fall, far after the cohort had left my classroom. Every class is different, and every child is different. And every child can be different every day, and every child is not a test-taker.
If I were still in the classroom, and I had to think of a way to assess students’ learning, I would not do multiple choice, standardized testing. Instead I would (if I could) use a portfolio-style of assessment wherein students’ learning is documented and I could see a reflection of their individual personality and intellectual growth in their work. This type of assessment is maybe more time-consuming than using a multiple-choice testing sheet and feeding it through a scanner, but I think that it is more humane and human. Learning and assessment should not be input-output, but rather a portrait of thoughts that are captured and nuanced.
Greene, K. (2009, Apr. 4). The History of Curriculum in America, Part II (C) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_szKWOgxJVc
(1980’s to 2000’s) In this final series on the History of Curriculum in America, Greene identifies key points in our history that continue to dictate our nation’s public school curriculum. Starting in the 1980’s, we left off with a return to the basics due to reports of failing SAT scores. Different educational practices started to emerge like homeschool programming for everyone; introduction of phonics for reading comprehension, and a damaging article entitled A Nation at Risk which scared the entire country. At this time, the nation was in the throes of a terrible economic recession, and people were once again blaming the education system.
In the 1990’s Milwaukee was the first district in the country to offer school vouchers for parents to choose what schools they wanted their children to attend. It did not take long for this idea to spread throughout other states as well. Charter schools also popped up, with the first one in Minnesota. The geographical location of the states is important as Greene points out that throughout our nation’s history, much of the educational reform, standards, and practices, originated in the North East. Education reformists had now moved to the mid-west. However, in 1993, Massachusetts passed the Massachusetts Education Reform Act which started common curriculum and statewide assessments. Other states of course followed. Scripted curriculum took over state and district teaching standards and textbook publishers along with anyone else related to textbooks and materials started to become the drivers of the curriculum. In 1998, the Higher Education Act is amended.
Greene, K. (2009, Apr. 4). The History of Curriculum in America, Part II (B) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6qAzQ95hGQ
(1940’s – 1970’s) In this third video in the series of four, Greene starts us off in the 1940’s. This is also the time of WWII. There were a lot of school drop-outs; the depression was still in full swing, too. More women started to move into more advanced coursework. Additionally, the GI Bill allowed for even more people to go on to college. This meant more teachers! Soon after, we experienced a post-war baby-boom. Even more teachers were needed, as well as materials. Education started to cost more as a result. Also along this time people were developing shared languages as TV brought more people together. Next came the Red Scare and that meant that teachers had to be very careful what they said in class, and strict standards were once again enforced to balance on the tightrope. Questioning was not encouraged. Also in 1957, SPUTNIK was launched and Americans became worried they were falling behind so a return to the basics was implemented so we could develop more rocket scientists.
The 60’s brought more of the same as the Space Race was in full swing. However, JFK became President and along with him and his wife, they brought Arts into society and schools followed. Art started to become cool again. It was okay to explore, invent, be different, and question. Dick and Jane finally got a black friend. Also in the 60’s came the Cuban Missile Crisis and Cuban families began migrating to Miami. Laws were signed by LBJ such as The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as a way to fight a war on poverty which was growing faster. This act meant to bring teachers to low-income schools. Another act, The Higher Education Act of 1965 increased federal funding to higher education, provided scholarships, and student loans. It also established a National Teachers Corps.
Greene, K. (2010, July 21). History of Curriculum in America, Part II_Movie A [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN63cUkeLzQ&feature=relmfu.
The 1920’s brought us the Scopes Monkey Trials where evolutionary theory was ejected from school classrooms and creationism, which is true to the Puritan mantra, would still be taught. In 1926, the first SAT was initiated. It was used initially as a means to give out scholarships, but was quickly picked up to make predictions about students’ abilities to succeed in college. In 1928, Dewy became an international face of education. He was and is considered the Father of Pragmatism, but really he was working off the work of William James. Pragmatism relates to the mind as being an instrument for realizing purpose. Ideas are plastic and adaptable conceptual tools of one’s mind. Dewey believed in exploring, problem solving, and involvement with purpose. Ideas like thinking rather than memorizing, and learning by doing were part of his theories. School is not separate from the world, but part of it. He also was anti-authoritarian, where knowledge was delivered, rather than understood. Other terms like experiential education, outcomes based education, and education as a purpose for each individual regardless of their college intentions are linked to Dewey.
The 1930’s brought the Great Depression and the population became even more mobile as they headed West and other places looking for jobs. The WPA brought artists and storytellers into schools. An important student of what was then considered our failing schools was something called The 8 Year Study, where the first charter schools were started and evaluated. At this time, the Dick and Jane Basal Readers emerged. Whole word reading, and standards meant to keep the country cohesive were beginning to emerge.