Tag Archives: New Zealand Curriculum

Curriculum Reflections

11 Oct

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What comes to mind when you hear the term curriculum leader?  Do you have a vision of your HOF standing at the back of your classroom observing teaching and learning?  Do you see the instructional leader as the building principal conducting three-minute walk-through observations?  Is the curriculum leader the department chair? How many curriculum leaders can one school hold?

Curriculum leadership should not be determined by a person’s title or years of experience.  Curriculum development is the essential function of school leadership.  Whether this role is carried out by a principal, an assistant principal for curriculum, a team leader, a department head, or by leading classroom teachers, the curriculum defines all other roles in a school. Strong, intentional leadership in curriculum development is a necessity for strong instructional leadership.

Curriculum leadership is complicated because leading curriculum development meetings involves working with fallible, imperfect human beings.  A second reason curriculum leadership is difficult is due to the school schedule and a lack of extended time for teachers to discuss and revise existing curriculum documents.  I know in my environment the complexity of documents can seem confusing. While it is difficult to ask for each teacher’s input, documents that are top-down rarely receive as much teacher buy-in as documents that were created by the teachers who are required to implement the curriculum.  Curriculum leaders must work together to create a culture of trust where teachers and administrators can agree to disagree.  Furthermore, leaders must develop quality time and create schedules which provide time for creative thinking and reflection, rather than scheduling early release days when teachers complete fill-in-the blank curriculum worksheets.

Five Reasons Why Schools Need Curriculum Leaders:

  1.  Curriculum Leadership provides clarity.

What should every student know and be able to do?

  1.  Curriculum Leadership provides opportunities to develop and empower future leaders.

Curriculum leadership is not a solo act.

  1.  Curriculum Leadership provides the opportunity for continuous improvement.

Schools should be learning organizations.

  1.  Curriculum Leadership provides the opportunity to establish goals.

Goals provide teachers and students with something to aim for.

  1.  Curriculum Leadership provides the opportunity for improved alignment.

Curriculum Leaders are Key

11 Oct

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Curriculum development is the essential function of school leadership.  Whether this role is carried out by a principal, an assistant principal for curriculum, a team leader, a department head, or by leading classroom teachers, the curriculum defines all other roles in a school.  Curriculum leaders have played an important role as our school set their strategic plan. They have the ability to create curriculum individually and with a team of teachers.  I have witnessed teachers from our school share strategies with teachers across the country.  Curriculum mapping, alignment, and revision require strong curriculum leaders.  When teacher leaders are involved in designing and revising curriculum, you will have a strong product. High performing schools have multiple curriculum leaders. They are the SLTs of the future. I advocate they should be developed and grown. What do you think? What are you doing to support these people?

As a staff here are some key questions to reflection on:

  1.  What do you think of when you hear the term curriculum leader?
  2.  Are you a curriculum leader?  What makes you a curriculum leader?
  3.  Are there additional reasons why schools need curriculum leaders?

Five Points for Curriculum Reflection: Part Two

11 Aug

Curriculum

As I have mentioned in an earlier post curriculum development has been on my mind as I have been looking at developing eLearning tools for the Religious Education Curriculum here in New Zealand. Here some more points that I think are important.

  1. Alignment

Curriculum Developers can spend so much time developing curriculum documents that they forget to take time to analyse alignment and have conversations with multiple groups.  “Poorly aligned curriculum results in our underestimating the effect of instruction on learning.” (Anderson, 2002, p. 260).

  1. Clarity

It must be clear across the school what is being taught. In Toward a Coherent Curriculum: The 1985 ASCD Yearbook, Stellar wrote, “The curriculum in numerous schools lacks clarity and, more important, coherence.  Students move from teacher to teacher and subject to subject along a curriculum continuum that may or may not exhibit planned articulation”

(p. v).

  1. Curriculum Development Is Requires Open Conversation

If you are asked to review curriculum or develop curriculum, then you should be careful to avoid bias.  What is good for your own child may not be good for every child.  Politics are unavoidable when it comes to curriculum development, but educators can improve the curriculum development process by seeking multiple perspectives. However this being said robust conversation about content and pedagogy is essential in a dynamic PLN.

  1. Be a Leader and Lead

Just lead. If you are leading the group lead them. It is not a title.  “A good leader has the ability to instil within his people confidence in himself.  A great leader has the ability to instil within his people confidence in themselves” (Maxwell, 1995, p. 55). 

  1. Student at the Centre

Despite all our ideas, discussions and reading of theory students must be at the centre. As curriculum is built one must ask? How will the student benefit? Is this course for them or me?

Do you have any suggestions? Perhaps there is a Part 3.

References:

Anderson, L.W. (2002). Curricular Alignment: A Re-Examination. Theory into Practice, 41, 225-260.

Maxwell, J.C. (1995). Developing the leaders around you. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Maxwell, J.C. (2008). Leadership gold: Lessons I’ve learned from a lifetime of leading. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Steller, A.W. (1985). Forward. In Beane, J.A. (Ed.), Toward a coherent curriculum. The 1985 ASCD Yearbook. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  

Curriculum Guru

10 Aug

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Curriculum Guru

Curriculum development is an ongoing process which requires collaboration, conflict-resolution and reflection. Too often, schools approach curriculum development as a product to be created. During my current role in 2015 I have developed a real passion for curriculum development.

Curriculum design and review is a continuous, cyclic process. It involves making decisions about how to give effect to the national curriculum in ways that best address the particular needs, interests, and circumstances of the school’s students and community. It requires a clear understanding of the intentions of The New Zealand Curriculum and of the values and expectations of the community. For some reading this is a good place to start.

Here are some thoughts:

Collaboration:

Classroom teachers decide what every student should know and be able to do, then they should be involved in the curriculum development process. Unpacking the standards, curriculum mapping, unit development, writing generalizations, developing essential questions and creating common formative assessments are each opportunities for collaboration.

Conflict Resolution:

Conflict is often avoided when teachers discuss curriculum development. When teachers debate which skills are essential and what content can be omitted, curriculum development becomes a matter of conflict resolution. When teacher teams embrace conflict and encourage conflicting opinions they are supporting student achievement. Open conversation is where professional develoment occurs.

Reflection:

When teacher teams reflect on the written, taught and assessed curricula, they will improve pedagogy and curriculum design. When teachers develop curriculum and fail to assess its effectiveness, it is difficult to know if the curriculum is meeting the needs of each student.

Some Questions For Curriculum Developers:

  1. Does our school have a ‘robust curriculum’?
  2. Is our curriculum aligned?
  3. Do teachers have a tool or method for communicating the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum’?
  4. When teachers develop common formative assessments, do they use the data generated?
  5. Are teachers meeting on a regular basis to reflect on the written, taught, and assessed curricula?

If curriculum drives the work of teacher teams, then schools must create time for teachers to collaborate, engage in conflict and provide time during the school day for reflection and revision. Curriculum development should be a priority in schools, rather than something that is handed to teachers as a top-down product. When teachers collaborate to develop the curriculum, they will have co-workers who support them when they come to a fork in the road in instruction.

5 Points for Curriculum Leaders

9 Aug

Curriculum

  1. Keep Your Goals to the Forefront

 “All learners benefit from and should receive instruction that reflects clarity about purposes and priorities of content” (Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006, p. 6).

  1. Curriculum Development Is A Process

You know that I often write about process. Curriculum mapping is an ongoing process which asks teachers to develop curriculum goals, identify essential content, skills and concepts, and reflect on the taught curriculum.  When teacher teams become satisfied with the product, then the process is at risk.  Curriculum development is “an ongoing process that asks teachers and administrators to think, act, and meet differently to improve their students’ learning”

(Hale, 2008, p. 8).  

  1. Communication Is Essential

Curriculum gaps create a barrier for student learning and have a detrimental effect on students’ opportunity to learn.  Gaps are created by a lack of communication among educators, varying implementation practices, available resources, and decisions about pacing.

  1. All by Myself

Empowering others is one of the main roles of curriculum leaders.  If you are feeling lonely at the top, take a moment to reflect on why no one seems to be following.

  1. Data

Curriculum leaders understand that curriculum alignment consists of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  Without a method of measurement, then it is highly unlikely that the curriculum will be implemented across classrooms. Use your data to drive where you want to go.

Read this article then go to Middle Leaders on TKI.

References:

Anderson, L.W. (2002). Curricular Alignment: A Re-Examination. Theory into Practice, 41, 225-260.

Hale, J.A. (2008). A guide to curriculum mapping: Planning, implementing, and sustaining the process. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Steller, A.W. (1985). Forward. In Beane, J.A. (Ed.), Toward a coherent curriculum. The 1985 ASCD Yearbook. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  

Tomlinson, C.A., & McTighe, J. (2006). Integrating differentiated instruction and understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Iwi Partnerships

5 Oct

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This term we celebrate our Maori and Pasifika students with their own special Year 13 graduation. It is something I am most proud of at our school. For all this success though I do wonder how many iwi has been asked whether they want to be partners in education? Or if we doing it right? I just presumed they want to, or should do, and therefore created a “partnership” thrust through school, by which teachers must adhere?   Ko te kai a te rangatira he kōrero?

The New Zealand Curriculum openly encourages schools to engage with families, whānau and communities. Parents are engaged at our place and we are consistently asking “Is there a better way?” We are encouraged to engage between te kura, te whānau, te hapū, te iwi me te hapori of the student. Where’s the bit that emphasises what iwi want? Are they happy by saying nothing? What do iwi stand to gain by working alongside schools? Is there a partnership? Koha mai, koha atu?

I must note an annual goal for next year again. Why do schools find it difficult to engage with iwi? Some institutes don’t know where to start looking. I know that I feel this way often. I have increased my understanding, interviewed and surveyed but still I feel we could enhance our engagement.

There’s presently a big focus on lifting achievement for priority learners in all sectors. And a strong suggestion that schools should “engage” with iwi and communities of Māori learners. After my NAPP study in 2013 I still am asking but how do we do this? What is the big secret? The answer I believe is that there is none. Like with any of our learners. All we can do is maintain relationships.

Something to reflect on with staff this week:

 

Flipped Classrooms

2 Oct

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My peers (especially the Maths Department) have got me thinking about the concept of “flipped classrooms” now for a while and the great thing about holidays is that it frees up time to do just that – think and in this case write, share and hopefully promote further discussion. My class website has taken off in recent year to the point I am considering a podcast in 2015.

I found this summary of flipped classrooms for the uninitiated.

The flipped classroom describes a reversal of traditional teaching where students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then class time is used to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge through strategies such as problem-solving, discussion or debates. (Vanderbilt University, Center for Teaching. University of Queensland.)

Thanks to a writer in my PLN I came across an article by Shelley Wright who was talking about flipping Blooms Taxonomy of learning, it’s worth sharing:

I begin with having my students write a paragraph, either in response to a prompt or their own free writing. Next, students, working in small groups or pairs, evaluate several master texts for the criteria we’re working on. How does the writer use punctuation or voice in a particular text? What similarities are there between texts? Students then compare their own writing with each text. What did they do correctly or well? How does their writing differ and to what effect?

As a class, or in their groups, we analyse the pieces for similarities and differences and group them accordingly. Only then do I introduce the concept of run-on sentences, comma splices, and fragments. Essentially, through this process, my students identify the criteria for good writing. From this, we’re able to co-construct criteria and rubrics for summative assessments.

Students then apply what they’ve learned by returning to their own writing. They change elements based on the ideas they’ve encountered.

Students further their understanding by either listening to a podcast, or engaging in their own research of grammar rules. Finally, as the knowledge piece, students create a graphic organizer/infographic or a screencast that identifies the language rules they’ve learned.

I think the best flipped classrooms work because they spend most of their time creating, evaluating and analysing. In a sense we’re creating the churn, the friction for the brain, rather than solely focusing on acquiring rote knowledge. The flipped classroom approach is not about watching videos. It’s about students being actively involved in their own learning and creating content in the structure that is most meaningful for them.

It got me thinking. The flipped classroom provides opportunities for all students. Fundamentally the student should be doing the work of learning which a dynamic process is and the activity and or use of technology will influence this process. Again the technology is but a tool.

Video Clip:

Teachers need to be educators—guides, mentors, encouragers, and providers of deeper learning and understanding, while allowing students to access basic knowledge in a variety of other ways.

Eddie Obeng makes some powerful observations in his excellent TED Talk, “Smart failure for a fast-changing world”:

 

 

From Good to Great

22 Mar

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The work of Jim Collins Good to Great (2011) has often inspired me when reviewing systems. It is a book that as an educator I have read half a dozen times. It is with theme in mind I reflect on the following this week as we try to make ourselves simply better.

‘From Good to Outstanding’: Tips for Teachers
Based on extracts from an extended interview with the series’ Inspector, Clare Gillies (CG)

Planning For Individual Learning – Contributed by Dr Alan Davison, Pivotal Behaviour Management Trainer

Curriculum planning is the point at which educational philosophy meets practical teaching and learning.

So… what is your philosophy?

Do you see your learners as empty bottles waiting to be filled up with your knowledge, beliefs and perceptions? Or are they active bundles of potential awaiting the opportunity to burst into learning and develop dormant skills?

Is pedagogy dead?

Things have changed so much that we no longer hear school masters mutter, “If you can’t beat pupils, why teach?” as they look back on cheerier days the world has left behind.

There are now very different values woven into our educational structures, many given shape and meaning through “Every child matters”. The elements “be happy”, “enjoy and achieve”, and, “make a positive contribution”, are reflected in what have become key learning targets.

1. Teach learners as individuals, and enable them to become independent learners.

2. Enable learners to develop their awareness and management of their social and emotional skills.

3. Enable learners to internalise positive reinforcements and motivation through a growing sense of belonging and purpose.

4. Ensuring all learners have a voice in planning and evaluating their learning opportunities and the issues based on their own safety and well being.

5. Develop a form of independence that encourages learners to know when and how to do things for themselves, and when, how and where to find support and help when they need it.

Curriculum planning which both incorporates these elements and supports a teacher training programme which ensures staff understand how to achieve these aims, will prove effective for school, college, teachers, but most of all, in meeting the aspirations of the learners.

© Pivotal Education Ltd 2001-10

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