Curriculum 21 Book Study

Essential Education for a Changing World

Chapter 12: Creating Learning Connections with Today’s Tech-Savvy Student

Author: Bill Sheskey

  1. As a classroom teacher, how does the author’s changing perceptions about the savvy student match your faculty’s perceptions?
  2. How might we help our faculty have “the light go on” through the use of a salient use of a piece of hardware (video podcasting camera) to a Web 2.0 site?
  3. How can our professional staff revise its instructional style and approach to match the digital child arriving each day?
  4. How might we use social networks for our own professional growth? How might we use social networks to stimulate the growth and knowledge of our learners?

In my role as an instructional technology coach, I believe that the teachers realize that students are technically savvy when it comes to navigating through the sites they use most often. However, I also believe that students require the guidance of a teacher to help them use technology for learning and not simply for entertainment. Often, teachers are nervous to use technology, mainly because they are fearful that things will not go as planned or that students will not learn what they need to learn.

The use of project based learning is an excellent way to embed technology into inquiry based learning experiences for students. The technology is transparent for the most part – another tool to get the job done. Also, writing scripts and storyboards to  create digital products is an excellent way to put the curriculum objectives first.

Teachers that stay out in front of new technologies and use those tools (hardware and software) will find that students are motivated to learn and engaged in the learning process. The instructional practices of teachers must shift to the role of facilitator of learning, rather than stand and deliver. Students must build  their own knowledge in order to apply information to new experiences. On the job professional development (instructional coaching) is the key, in my opinion.

Social networks provide a new arena for resource review and sharing. I am an avid user of Twitter for professional resource sharing, I participate in multiple professional listservs and I maintain close contact with other instructional coaches in my geographic area. Maintaining a balance between online communities and face-to-face folks is very important to  keep in touch with what the needs of “my” teachers may be.

Key points:

  • p. 199 – “…what is truly driving change in the 21st century classroom: the students.”
  • p. 203 – “Using web-based communication tools also gives teachers the ability to provide feedback t any time on the quality of the writing.”
  • p. 208 – “Students in today’s schools can access all the information they need to know, bu they must learn to ask the right questions.”
  • p. 208 – “At this point in history of formal education, a change is occurring. Whereas before we gathered knowledge to become intelligent, now intelligence is measured by how well we apply knowledge to ask the right questions about how to solve the world’s problems.”

Chapter 9: Portfolios & Curriculum Maps…

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…Linking Teacher and Student Work

Chapter Author: David Niguidula

  1. Are there restrictions inherent to the forms of student assessment that we use in our school? What are those restrictions? How can we move beyond those restrictions? I would say there are restrictions on the most common forms of student assessment used in schools today. Much of the assessment that occurs seems to be assessment of student learning – to find out if they learned what has been taught. With the strong focus on high stakes testing, the push to improve test taking skills can outweigh a focus on student learning. Schools can move beyond those restrictions by incorporating more formative assessments and assessments as feedback to help students learn deeper.
  2. How might digital portfolios allow our learners and teachers improve the long-term motivation and self-knowledge of our learners? A digital portfolio contains learning artifacts selected by the student and allows for student self-reflection about learning. In addition, a digital portfolio welcomes an audience to review the artifacts and reflections. Success can lead to motivation, while motivation can also lead to success. A student that displays and revisits successes can make connections between the work they have done and their own learning advances.
  3. How does the work with digital portfolios affect curriculum decision-making? In order to be successful with digital portfolios, the work in the classroom must support student independence when learning and encourage reflection throughout the school day/year. This will mean a shift in the organization of curriculum, as well as a shift in teacher instructional practice. Students are used to being receivers of information and being told by the teacher how they are doing. With portfolio work and creation, the student role shifts to more of a self directed learner with the teacher guiding and facilitating learning. Current curriculum models will have to be reworked to fit this new model.
  4. The author states, “Portfolios can be used to create an ongoing dialogue between students and teachers.” How could such a conversation improve performance at your school? Students need feedback about their learning as often as it can be provided. The ongoing dialogue during the creation of a portfolio can be used as formative assessment feedback FOR learning. Summative assessments will still be done as assessments OF learning, but do not provide the type of feedback to shape learning.
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Chapter 13: It Takes Some Getting Used To: Rethinking Curriculum for the 21st Century

Authors: Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick

  1. Which specific 21st century curriculum and instruction transitions will take “some getting used to” for faculty, administrators, and students?
  2. Are there specific Habits of Minds (from the list of 16 habits, pp. 212–213) that need cultivation in your school community to make the transition into the 21st century?
  3. How can you support these habits of mind? What will use and support look like in practice?
  4. What do the authors mean by changing our “mental model” in terms of planning and communicating in schools? What mental model is dominant now?

Chapter 11 ~ Power Down or Power Up?

Author: Alan November

  1. How is the “disruptive” force of technologies and digital tools transforming teaching and learning?
  2. How do the professionals in our school perceive this force? Explore the different attitudes by professional level and experience.
  3. How can we develop new roles for professionals in our school setting so that we all become more comfortable and empowered?
  4. How can our students make rigorous and meaningful contributions to the school and to their own education?

**After reading chapter 11, it is easy to see that times are changing.  There are so many wonderful resources out there, ready for us to use in the classroom setting.  Some of these tools can be used in many ways, but to some provide more of a distraction.  Consequently, online resources like Facebook and Twitter are not to be used at school.  While I agree that everything has its place and time, we are missing out on some great opportunities–and let’s face it–most of the kids already have a Facebook page and “Tweet.”  If these resources are available, let’s show students how to use them in a MEANINGFUL way!  I really enjoyed the suggestions made for giving students responsibilities within the classroom–such as scribes, researchers, and collaboration coordinators.  Passing the responsibility is such an important thing to do, we sometimes fail to recognize the power it has.  I REALLY liked the section on “Contributors to Society.”   What a cool thing to determine what to do and see it unfold before your eyes.  As always, educators need to continue on their lifelong journey of learning by looking at new ideas and practices.  We need to make sure that we are preparing our students for the life they we live after high school, which will include technology beyond our imagination–and they will be the ones creating it!

Chapter 10 ~ Educating for a Sustainable Future

Author: Jaimie P. Cloud

  1. How can our school setting address what the author calls the “upstream problem”?
  2. How can we create a foundation with our specific constituents (students, professionals, parents, community) to educate for sustainability?
  3. What might sustainable curriculum and assessment look like for our specific community at each level, K–12?
  4. How might we inject and upgrade curriculum content across disciplines with an emphasis on sustainability?

Chapter 2: Upgrading the Curriculum

A complete overhaul of educational practices may be a bit daunting.  With this in mind, schools must take small steps and work more efficiently.  One way of working smarter is by using curriculum mapping and by beginning with the assessment in mind.  Instead of adding to an already packed curriculum, teachers must replace and upgrade existing curriculum.  There are five basic steps in upgrading curriculum: develop  a list of assessment replacements, identify existing technological resources, replace a old assessment with a modernized one, share these upgrades with school professionals, and provide time within the school year to make and plan the upgrades. Upgrading the curriculum can lead to a deeper and more creative approach to demonstrating knowledge acquisition.

Chapter 1: A New Essential Curriculum for a New Time

Our current educational system was established during a time of industrial revolution.  It mirrors our country’s  business and industrial philosophies; one such philosophy is standardization.  Students are placed into our K-12 program basically following the same standards and pace.  In the 21st century this is an antiquated practice that must change.  The changes must be more than just that of curriculum, but in fact an overhaul of existing practices.

Chapter 6: A Classroom as Wide as the World

1.  What are the implications of global trends on our students?

2. How will the United States education system prepare their students to be competitive and competent in a global community?

Chapter 2: Upgrading the Curriculum

How does beginning with the assessment in mind lead to a more successful upgrade to the curriculum?

Chapter 1: A New Essential Curriculum for a New Time

Why is there a need for a new version of school?