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Curriculum 5000 Final Exam

Choose four of the following six questions to answer.  Each essay response should be between 500-600 words, double-spaced and following APA style.  Please identify the question you are responding to in your paper and cite sources when appropriate.  No late submissions will be accepted, so please plan accordingly.  Each question is worth 25 points; final exam is worth a total of 100 points.

Due Date: 5/12

 

  • Define curriculum and instruction.  What is the relationship between these terms?

 

The definition of curriculum  cannot be “Shelf Art”. “Shelf Art” is a term that on of my former superintendents used for the curriculum documents that teachers created many years ago. When they first started creating curriculum at my former elementary school, the curriculum was created and then it was never looked at again. The curriculum was printed, put in a binder and placed on a shelf. Hence, it became “shelf art”.  Most schools are currently trying to create living documents for curriculum. Living documents are ones that are dynamic and changing and continually becoming more complete. Teachers can work with and use their curriculum during the instruction. The curriculum is defined as the written plan, the instruction and the assessed curriculum. The written plan consists of a unit for learning, instructional strategies, resources and activities. The instruction is the actual act of using the written curriculum that was planned. The instruction is what takes place when the students are present. The assessed piece is how we are deciding if students retained the information.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) defines curriculum as “a written set of objectives (“What do we want students to learn?”) but also a guide to the theory behind, and application of, good classroom practice (“How best will they learn?”), and including effective and appropriate assessment (“How will we know what they have learned?”).” (“Making the PYP”, 2009)  Those three things are what IB refers to as the written, taught and assessed curriculum. The written curriculum is the unit planner or called the Unit of Inquiry. The Unit of Inquiry includes the central idea, lines of inquiry, teaching strategies, activities and resources used, along with reflection and action from student and teachers. The taught curriculum is what  actually happens in the classroom, meaning the instruction. The assessed curriculum is the assessment of student learning.  All three of these work together to form the curriculum.

The instruction is part of the curriculum but it is only one small part.  Oliva describes the cyclical model as “that instructional decisions are made after curricular decisions, which in turn are modified after instructional decisions are implemented and evaluated.”  (Oliva & Gordon, II, 2013) Even though instruction is a part of the curriculum picture, I agree with the cyclical model. The reflection and review must be always taking place. Within the IB model, the curriculum is a living document that is always being revised. The curriculum is reviewed before, during and after the instruction to adjust any of the written information to improve the instruction.

All teachers need the written curriculum to define how they may teach the students. In IB schools this is very helpful for many reasons. At my current school we have all written curriculum in a central server where all teachers can see each other’s curriculum. This is helpful to determine if we are vertically and horizontally aligned between classrooms. This is also very helpful if a teacher is absent or leaves.  The Unit of Inquiry is on the server for anyone to see what the teacher had planned. On the other hand,  the instruction is also dynamic in that the teacher may never teach the same lesson the same way twice. Every year, the teacher has different students with different backgrounds and different connections to each other, the teacher and the subject matter. Although the curriculum has instructional strategies and activities, the instruction is what happens in the classroom.

 

International Baccalaureate, (2009). Making the pyp happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education . Cardiff, Great Britain: Peterson House.

Oliva, P., & Gordon, II, W. R. (2013). Developing the curriculum. (8th ed.). United States: Pearson.

 

 

  • Debate the issue of a national curriculum, national standards, and a national assessment – presenting both sides of the debate.

 

The Common Core State Standards were created in 2009 with  governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states deciding the best state standards, feedback from public, and the experience of teachers and others. (Development process, (n.d.)) The Common Core State Standards is an advantage in a mobile society where students in Kindergarten through 12th grade do not stay at the same school or same state for all of their school years. The Common Core State Standards is attempting to ensure that if a student moves to another school or state, the same standards are taught at the same levels in all schools.  Greene argues that the only way to ensure the same standards are met is that there becomes a national curriculum.

The Common Core State Standards are not easy for those American schools who are involved in the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. The IB system asks teachers to create their own curriculum that is universal to everyone in the world. Units should be created that is not geographically important to where the school is located. A Unit of Inquiry should be able to be taken from Colorado and taught in China.  To be able to align this with the Common Core State Standards is problematic. As the world becomes more flat with more international businesses, the United States need to be able to become more internationally minded.

Teachers should be able to write their curriculum based on the Common Core State Standards. “Standards are your destination. Curriculum is your road map.” (Greene, 2014) For this reason, all teachers should be able to decide on their own road map. There is no one correct way to get to Chicago. There are lots of roads that lead there and each person can choose their own way to get the destination. The Common Core State Standards are a good destination, but demanding all teachers to use the same road map is not fair for individual teachers. Of course if there was a national curriculum, then what creativity is there for teachers to teach? A national curriculum would be useful to make sure that all teachers are achieving the Common Core State Standards.

National assessments have been used at the upper levels for admission since the 1920s. The SAT and ACT are the two most used national assessments. These assessments allows the post-secondary schools to compare all students applying for enrollment through the same lens. But what if your student is not a good test-taker?  National assessments should be one piece of the puzzle, not the only piece of the puzzle. When I was in grade school we took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. In Illinois we only had to take this every few years, but becoming more of an information society, everyone wanted more data. They started using more assessments at lower grades to test student growth. Again, this data is very important, but it is a double edge sword. Students need more time learning and less time assessing.

As a teacher, national standards are important, but teachers should have a large part in the curriculum development to achieve those standards. National curriculum could be useful but takes away from the teachers flexibility when teaching.National assessments are also important, but when do we get to too much testing and not enough learning.

 

Development Process. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved May 10, 2014, from http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/development-process/

 

Greene, P. (2014, May 9). Common Core — Curriculum or Not?. The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 10, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-greene/common-core-curriculum-standards_b_5297876.html

Outline the major beliefs of the following schools of philosophy: reconstructionism, progressivism, essentialism, and perennialism.  Compare and contrast.

 

Oliva and Gordon (2013) discuss the four prevalent philosophies of education as reconstructionism, progressivism, essentialism, and perennialism. Although all have similarities, there are also striking differences. Reconstructionism in education is when schools “become an agency for solving political and social problems.” (Oliva & Gordon, 2013)  This theory centers around seeing the students as clay. If students are clay, the schools are the artists who can shape them into what society needs. To shape them, many of these schools uses Project Based Learning or Problem Based Learning to accomplish this goal.  Project Based Learning started when internships started “Confucius and Aristotle were early proponents of learning by doing. Socrates modeled how to learn through questioning, inquiry, and critical thinking — all strategies that remain very relevant in today’s PBL classrooms.”  (Project based learning, n.d.) Project based learning has always been used in science classes with hands-on experiments and labs. Educators are now seeing its applications in many topics. Problem based learning is even more student-centered because students must find the problem to do a project on. “The first application of PBL, and perhaps the most strict and pure form of PBL, was in medical schools which rigorously test the knowledge base of graduates.” (Problem based learning, n.d.)  Some teachers suggest their own solutions to this problem they present to their students and this is the reason United States and other countries have not embraced this philosophy.

Perennialism is seen as the theory to develop the ability to reason, discipline the mind, and pursue the  truth. Many of the studies in this philosophy center around the great books of the Western world. For some, this is too confined for most schools. The main idea is to look at history to learn about the future. This is a good start to an education, but it can’t be the only focus. Students need to move beyond this into problem solving for the future. For this reason, the perennialists have not succeeded with their philosophy.

Essentialism has the aim of conforming students to society and preserving the society. Most people think of the three R’s, reading, writing and arithmetic. For teaching these, the technique of “Assign-Study-Recite-Test” is used the most.  Again, this is a good place to start and it is somewhat needed for students to understand math, but it falls short of what our students need..

The progressive philosophy is based on “education is life” and “learning by doing”. The progressive is when they talk about teaching to the whole child. Allowing students to love learning and want to continue learning after schooling is over is a goal of the progressives. This is a great theory, but again it falls short in giving students the 21st century skills they need to succeed.

After reading this chapter, I used to be a progressivist educator. I was all about teaching to the whole child.  After teaching at a International Baccalaureate (IB)  school, I have become a reconstructionist educator. IB emphasizes the relationship the student has with the subject matter. IB also asks students to act on their knowledge outside of school. For instance, if you are studying the water cycle, we want students to think about how they use water and can they use less water.  For elementary students, these conversations might seem basic. But if we empower our students to see that they can make a difference, in the future they can solve  problems throughout the world. We also ask students to reflect on their learning which helps them connect it to their own lives. Teachers must use theories from all of these philosophies to teach students how to be 21st century citizens, but emphasis the reconstructionist way of problem solving and inquiry based learning.

 

Problem Based Learning. (n.d.). . Retrieved May 5, 2014, from http://ldt.stanford.edu/~jeepark/jeepark+portfolio/PBL/whatis.htm

Project-Based Learning. (n.d.). Edutopia. Retrieved May 5, 2014, from http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning

 

 

  • Identify current and continuing issues that are brought about by social and political forces and explain their significance for curriculum development.

 

 

The most prevalent social force in education is technology. When I went to school in the 1980s we still had typewriters in our high school. I am not sure my students would know what a typewriter is. Technology has changed so much in the last 30 years that education has had a hard time keeping up with it. Evers and Izumi quote Roger Schank, director of the Institute for Learning Sciences at Northwestern University, as saying: “It took 30 years to get the overhead projector out of the bowling alley and into the classroom.” Some schools are now starting to embrace technology with one-to-one laptop or ipad initiatives. These initiatives put more technology in the hands of our students.  But other schools and districts are slowing joining the ranks of the rest of society. I hear many educators who say the classroom is the only place where our students are unplugged. Is that good or bad?

Technology is a significant force when it comes to curriculum development. Students will not need to memorize the fifty states, capitals, state birds, state flowers, and all the other trivia facts that I had to memorize. If you can answer a question by asking Google or Siri, is that something that students should spend time memorizing?  If they don’t need to know trivia facts, what do they need to know?  They need to acquire the 21st century skills of critical thinking, information literacy, research literacy, creativity, collaboration and communication which will help them succeed in an information society. Students need to be able to use technology safe and effectively through the use of their 21st century skills. As Oliva & Gordon describe in Chapter 7, the difference between 20th century and 21st century is immense.

When formal public education started, society wanted to train the students to be well-behaved citizens who could work in the factories. Students do not need textbooks with facts that may be out-dated before the textbooks are delivered to the school. In libraries around the world there many books that state that Pluto is a planet. Scientists have no determined that Pluto is a dwarf planet and should not be included in the main planet lists. Part of the 21st century skills is that students need to be able to search the Internet, know what is fact and what might not be true, and be able to analyze and use that information for their own purposes. Curriculum must become more inquiry based and personalized. This is a hard change when this is not how the administrators were taught or even how they taught when they were in the classroom. The administrators are the ones making many of the curriculum and professional development choices. The administrators must understand how much technology can assist students, teachers, and administrators in their learning.

For teachers and administrators who have not integrated technology into their classroom, pedagogy must be taught. Technology should not be about consuming information. Technology should be used to produce new information. Many teachers have not even done this themselves so it is hard to make the change from using technology to consume to using technology to produce. Students also have most of their personal experience with technology consuming information. Students must be taught how to integrate technology to their advantage. Information is everywhere but being able to use technology to organize  and analyze the information is what our society needs in our youth.

 

Evers, W. M., & War, R. (2001). School reform: the critical issues. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press.

Oliva, P., & Gordon, II, W. R. (2013). Developing the curriculum. (8th ed.). United States: Pearson.

 

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