Curriculum

It is quite fitting that the last driver to ponder and reflect upon is Curriculum Design. At the centre of all that happens at a school, curriculum decisions decisively affect students´ learning and their future lives.

Curriculum cannot be developed without close attention to context. research, interesting articles, and even school examples have to be contextualized in order to extract the most valuable lessons that are applicable to the DWKS reality and reinterpreted in their implementation so that they make sense within constraints faced, including external requirements and cultural issues.

Please explore the following resources, covering a wide range of ideas and examples regarding curriculum innovation worldwide:

Taking into account previous drivers and discussions, please answer the following questions in the Discussion Forum below.

  • What constraints can you identify regarding curriculum innovation at DWKS? How could they eventually be circumvented / bypassed, if at all possible?
  • Provide ideas and examples of possible curriculum innovations at DWKS.

12 Replies to “Curriculum”

  1. After going through the material I again see the need for developing our curriculum centered around our students interests. The idea of “Musery” – having our students develop self-efficacy, self-reflection and communication skills along with a sense of community responsibility and social justice – could easily be included in our daily routine within our classroom teaching and/or advisory. I also feel cross-curricular teaching is important and units within one subject could be easily linked with other subjects. This would require teachers getting together to plan. I really liked the ICHK (Hong Kong) model. Their outdoor leadership certificate idea could be incorporated into our current outdoor education curriculum. The idea of promoting leadership and volunteerism is so important. We already have a “Forest School” – our backyard is great for this kind of environment as well as our proximity to the river, Provincial Parks, ski programs, etc. Our students in kindergarten, outdoor ed. and phys. ed are already learning outdoor skills. I think we could promote this even more at all levels. We have been planning a more formal outdoor classroom area in our yard for a while and if we could incorporate a greenhouse, gardens, etc., think of the possibilities in our curriculum and the awesome learning that would result! I also liked the “free learning” idea – again could this be part of flex Fridays? Finally the 5 +1 model of learning was interesting. The idea of having our students learn the right mindset towards their learning – hard work, perseverence, etc. – is so important. I would definitely like training in this area and perhaps it could be done through PIC or during PD days.

    As far as contsraints
    – the School Board and Ministry guidlines, requirements, expectations
    – IT training for online classroom teaching – I have very little skills in this area and it does give me stress of how I could manage this kind of teaching
    – time and resources to develop more meaningful approaches to the curriculum

  2. So much to think about!!☺

    From MUSE – “Students engage in a range of learning activities that deepen their critical thinking skills by connecting learning to real-world problem-solving. We support and encourage Internships, mentorships, dual enrollment in college courses, service-learning activities, and independent study opportunities to enrich the students experiential learning.” and “creates a post-secondary culture for all students, whether you want to attend college, join the workforce, or take a GAP year.” These are some thing that we already do and that we could be more intentional about when working with students.

    Agora School
    -Mission says it all – “Our goal is to educate students to become enthusiastic, self-responsible, confident and democratic citizens.”; our mission is this good too, we need to continue to live it; I like how they have a vision and mostly I like and would like us to identify Values
    – I also think we need to update our website(off topic I know but…)

    From ICHK(which I felt has much similarity to our situation)
    – the “Deeper Learning Days” were of great interest to me. While we do a good job of this especially at the 5/6 and 11 levels, a thoughtful and planned schedule for each of the 12 years students are with us would be more effective and thorough. It would also become traditions that students look forward to and planning (hopefully) would become simpler.
    -we know that our OE program is highly impactful for most of our students; though we do include OE type learning in our PHE program, perhaps a vertical curriculum could be planned for some type of OE learning time at all levels; again, intentional planning
    -“Forest School” – how can we get our students into the trees more often?? – science of course, but what about drama, ELA, FRE/FRA…
    – belief that all teachers are responsible for the 2 imperatives for 21st century learning(identify genuine foundational concepts and promote habits of lifelong learners); the foundational concepts is what we have begun to identify through our RTI study of our curriculum; lifelong learner traits -(“ambition, courage, determination, resilience, self-discipline, endurance, agility, realism and, above all, the will to contend. In short, the self-belief and resolve to give things a go”)could become a SEL focus(1 per month??)

    5 Trends
    -we need to be mindful of soft skills(especially if learning is online)
    -online material must visually engaging
    -developing lifelong learners because most/all jobs require growth

    Top Performing Countries- Canada continues to do well; though I believe that the QEP is still ahead of many education plans in other provinces/countries, I hope that I am still around for the next MEES ‘reform’.

    That’s all for now☺☺☺

    1. This was a bit longwinded so I am back to more simply state what I believe is:
      – that we are quite limited by the MEES in our curriculum for most of our subjects
      – we need to look for ways to best define the vital learning so all students can succeed at high levels
      – we should search for ways to deepen cross-curricular and cross-subject learning
      – our ‘local’ courses should be expanded

      ☺☺☺

  3. As usual, Gabriel has included some wonderful resources that inspire the recuperating teacher in the summer of COVID. The lesson for me from this week’s offering is that much of what we do (the extra / common sense / foundational / cross curricular stuff) may be more important than the curriculum we have to cover in our progression of learning.

    One natural link that occurs to me is in ELA when teaching reading instruction, especially in intermediate and higher grades is the idea of critical thinking, awareness of message and purpose, why was a text written, who does it benefit and who does it detract from?

    I wrote too much about constraints last week and don’t want to revisit it. It is possible with creative thinking and the autonomy we are given to justify almost any journey of learning we determine or students need to embark upon.

    1. Russell, I defiantly agree with the link from ELA. Fostering critical thinking and learning to be aware of messages and purpose in multiple types of media around them it is such a good way to build student’s knowledge of the world around them.

  4. – The need to center our curriculum around our students interests remains critical as we can see in the 5 trends about the attention span of Millennials. It is getting more and more difficult to keep our students engaged. I am continuously reflecting on what this will look like in an online French class. .”To keep the attention of Millennials, the content presented to them must have excellent visuals and dialogue along with an interesting storyline that will hold their attention. This younger group cares more about the narrative and the visual nature of the content that interests them than other age groups.”

    – using our outdoor space more effectively …we certainly have the ideal location for outdoor classrooms ( Forest school)
    – We have many restraints due to our “teaching to exams” in Quebec
    – I encourage you to read this article “What If We Radically Reimagined the New School Year?”….food for thought

    https://chicagounheard.org/blog/what-if-we-radically-reimagined-the-new-school-year/?fbclid=IwAR3fU54-cjQ1YZLgGH-6ppKqNhLVmpsB41YL04AoHaM96ov1bG0aAFmeJbE

  5. Thanks Karen….a really neet blog that cuts right into the notion of making schools “real”…….makes sense to bring “Life” into Learning during school ……how else to develop “Life-Long Learners”?

  6. Sorry I missed last week’s focus. This week I have read and feel overwhelmed! I believe this is a generation issue since I do not have a comfort level with technology that would easily propel me toward meaningful student engagement….I speculate that I’m not alone in this regard. Hence we need exemplars….models….mentors to ease this fundamental transition. Those of you who know me know that I can bring a classroom alive and engage learners across the spectrum….how on earth to do that virtually! Passion-based projects at grade 6 are mentioned…..I agree, but wonder how to identify these…I read the curriculum for social studies-grade 6- and know that this is only possible with integration among disciplines. Five Trends in Education….this I really liked but also noticed that future tense verbs are often used so much may not yet be worked out. In Trend 1 it is noted that virtual teaching/learning may enhance accommodations….is differentiation merely a matter of providing more? And I need to better understand how I’d track student progress in literacy within a learning management system? Trend 2-Self-Skill Development….I know we have to teach students HOW but I read this and wonder if the current gap between students will only increase if learning is all virtual….and then Trend3-Decreasing Attention Span…..well there it is! The MAJOR hurdle! This MUST be acknowledged by ALL of us! We have to change our roles. And this connects with trend 4-Facilitating Learning Versus Teaching…..this is a significant paradigm shift. I am in awe of all there is to consider and must remind myself that there is SO MUCH GREAT TEACHING and LEARNING already happening…..I suppose I must find comfort with ambiguity!

  7. I believe there is for some students a stigma to school, where some lack interest, and find it difficult to succeed. I think for all of our students, especially the ones who have this negative outlook or stigma towards school, we need to try to make the curriculum more applicable and interactive. Furthermore, some students lack the drive and love for learning, but often we see their drive sparked when we create a way to construct a learning environment which captures both their interest and connections to their own life.

    The curriculum is for at least some subjects very content heavy and can be hard to cram into one year of school, without feeling rushed and overwhelming to the students. The high content curriculum does really allow time for students to dive deeper into some areas which they really like, or areas where they may struggle. I think what we had started doing as a staff (in subject groups) with the categorizing the different areas of the curriculum as red-don’t use in the future, yellow- may use throughout school and green- use over a long period of time or forever, could really help allow for more concentration and exploration into more meaningful topics.

    Students often find it hard to make connections and understand content if there is no link to their life or interests. Even as a teacher, I find it difficult at times trying to help students make connections to the curriculum and their life. DWKS could perhaps look into ways of connecting different subjects “cross-curricular” to help students see and make more connections to what they are learning. Additionally, from ICHK the “deep learning programme” where students choose from a wide selection of units which they get to explore more would be amazing. Even doing this across a few grades or as a team where students can collaborate and question the unit would be a great way to empower student’s opinion on learning.

    1. I agree Mackenzie! Including their interest will captivate their attention and focus so much more whether they are K4 students during circle time or our highschool students who already have an idea of what career they would like to pursue.

  8. This is a lot to ponder here and I agree with many of your points.

    I really like the idea of the MUSE Virtual learning platform. The simplicity of the curriculum, and of course I was looking at the math :), is attainable. It would be nice to move toward this type of platform.

    The Agora school… I think we have the perfect opportunity to have students grouped up by their knowledge of math, not by age group. This way… “each of them is given control over their own educational journey”.

    Technology is moving very quickly and is a beneficial resource. A constraint that I feel we have at our school is budget. There is not enough to sustain and facilitate a technological movement to foster and create an innovative curriculum.

    Another constraint quoted from one of the articles… “The online platform may also force teachers to change how they teach. They might find it challenging to change how they approach lesson plans to ensure that the students remain engaged even while they cannot see the instructor in person.” As we move forward this year, this could be a challenge for our teachers.

    Besides technology, we cannot forget the importance of students having the opportunity
    -to learn soft skills
    -to engage with fellow students
    -to experience leadership

    My dream at DWKS… for all students to have a laptop (to take from school to home). They can then be given the opportunity to own their learning at whatever level they are at, to grow academically according to their ability, with no limitations. If technology is going to be at the forefront of developing curriculum innovation, I think our little innovative school has the means to do this with a little help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *