Collaborative curriculum development 

Collaborative curriculum innovation: balancing rigour and engagement.
Mathilda Joubert and Cheryllynne Gostelow

This session, from two Western Australian presenters, began with the need for change, but began with a NAPLAN reference as the need for that change, a marked difference from the emphasis of the presentation this morning.

Their challenge was to develop a personalised curriculum that covers AC, enables progression … but also leads to engagement in rich learning experiences that result in deep learning (21c skills)

What they did was adopt a creative curriculum development process. This begins with student voice, learning from students and use these as ‘hooks’ to develop rigorous curriculum that taps into their interests and passions, balancing rigour and enjoyment. (eg Teaching ratios using Minecraft)

The process was ten steps: (see pic)

Maybe I’m a bit weary, but I had some reservations. I liked the idea of responding to students, but how meaningful? Don’t students have a lot of different interests? I wouldn’t want to have to do a unit on The Bachelorette! And, how does AC match? Wouldn’t there be vast gaps and overlaps? They did address this later.

I liked that they emphasised the ‘soft skills’ of the AC, ‘the hard currency of their future’, showing an approach that is term by term, with students being explicitly taught these skills, which they apply later.

They argued that the themes had to be context free, history is often contextual, and these outcomes are separated out.

Driving an innovation industry

Driving an innovation agenda
Ian Williamson

Williamson began his talk about. innovation by emphasising how quickly things can dramatically change.

Only 21% of the 1982 Fortune 500 companies were still on the list in 1982. (aka Kodak and Polaroid and Motorola) He asked the question, ‘why didn’t Sony invent the iPod?’

He argued that no one is immune- ‘Higher education is now ground zero for disruption.’

The biggest barriers to innovation:

  • risk averse culture
  • lengthy development time
  • not enough good ideas

Innovation requires leadership and recognise that different types of knowledge are needed for invention and harnessing (from thought to implementation). He argued for collaboration and integration, using Apple as an example.

What’s holding us back?

In this session Yong Zhau talked about failure and disengagement, about diversity and connections. He talked of multiple intelligences, differing motivations and passions, using ‘Rudolph the red nosed reindeer’ as a metaphor.
He talked about nature via nurture, that the conditions mattered, and also the idea of mastery (10,000 hours and all that) He gently mocked the growth mindset, noting that believing he could become a great footballer wouldn’t make it happen.

But not all diversity is valued, schools make a great guess about what is useful and will be valued, and focus on ’employable skills’. We privilege certain intelligences, talents and motivations. We homogenise kids.

Traditional work is gone: ‘The Second Machine Age’. (book)

He argued that education is broke, needs replacing not fixing. PISA got a drubbing again, a measure of sausage makers, ‘the stupidity of trying to fix the past’, we are seduced by the old paradigm, of education the average. But, in the age ‘of abundance’ we should accommodate all talents and globalisation is way beyond the village and education has side effects too, that we should be aware of: ‘this program will improve your NAPLAN scores but kill off your love of reading forever’.

What’s holding us back?

zhaulearning.com

@YoungZhauOU

Putting a pause on PISA

Putting a pause on PISA (Alma Harris)
In this session, Harris talked about high performance in a global context and argued that ‘high performance is relative’.  She talked about PISA and the success stories of places like Finland and China. She argued strong about the importance of CONTEXT and talked about ‘the other side of the story’, of a culture of private tutoring, of students having 4-5 hours sleep, that success comes with a price. ‘Do we really want to be the top of PISA that much?’, the ‘iron child’ culture. She referenced a book ‘The Smartest Kids in the World’ (Amanda Ripley) but argued that PISA was over valued.
Imagine a grading for students on the ‘Global Youth Wellbeing Index’, she argued, where Australia is the leading country.

We have to be cautious about the attributions we make about the data we see. There are missing pieces like diversity, inclusion, equity and context.

She showed us context like the number of schools, ‘you can borrow policies but you can’t borrow context.’

– Quality teaching matters

– Leadership is the big enabler

– Professional learning is essential

– A central focus on students as learners and people

Harris concluded by talking about the importance of leadership.

It was refreshing.

Professor Harris tweets at @AlmaHarris1

High reliability schools (Robert Marzano)

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Marzano talked about his model for school reform -for creating high reliability schools.

He talked  of four systems.
Knowledge – we spend most of our time in schools in this domain.

Metacognitive system

Cognitive system

Self system

Marzano argued that we spend too much time on the knowledge systems.

He talked about leading and lagging indicators, monitoring and celebrating success using quick conversations, quick observations and easy to collect quick data.

He had developed indicators for levels and shared some critical indicators for each.

Safe and collaborative culture

– a professional learning community process (we do better as a team than as individuals)

– Systematic examples of inspiration

Effective teaching in every classroom

– A clear vision of what good instruction looks like. (Many, many strategies that teachers can use and these strategies are observed and monitored)

Guaranteed and viable curriculum – content assurance across classes

– A focused curriculum that can be achieved in the time available .

– Continual monitoring the curriculum

– Direct vocabulary instruction (tier 1, 2 and 3 words) AND wide reading

– Reasoning processes including cognitive and contrive schools

Standards referenced reporting
– Clearly communicate what students know, using proficiency scales (learning progression)

– Students track their progress over time

– Report status and growth on the report, can be converted to grades

Competency based education
– Timetable can cope with variety of paces (requires blended learning approach)

– Adjusting reporting systems accordingly

– Less whole class instruction

It was a interesting session, a little US centric and a little marred by it being a Skyped in Marzano we were getting, which broke up a little at times. First world problems!

Courage and commitment to Lead

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Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

I arrived in Sydney last night for the annual ACEL conference, themed Courage and Commitment to Lead, with a good lineup of speakers and sessions over the next three days. It’s always hard to get out of school so this is nicely placed during the school holidays and I’ve already enjoyed meeting up with colleagues and former colleagues as well.

It’s also nice to be visiting Sydney again; I took a walk down to Circular Quay before breakfast and loved that special mix of sun, salt water and ferries that epitomises Sydney for me.

I’ll  post some notes from some of the sessions over the next few days for your reading pleasure.


Photo: Mark Gray

Living and teaching in an era of big data

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If there was one recurring thread (I typed ‘threat’ subliminally just then and it didn’t auto-correct!) at the first day of the K-12 National Curriculum Conference today, it might have been the idea of data, analytics and ‘using evidence’ to inform teaching and learning.

‘There are two things we all agree with’, said Professor Brian Caldwell, it’s the idea of an Australian curriculum, and the idea of national testing, of some kind.

Systems: universal, national, local, like the idea of data. ‘We’re not just wasting our money here. Look. You’re not doing it right…’ Data to drive improvement, data to drive reform, data to drive teachers out of the profession. ‘PISA has become an article of faith for policy makers …’ someone said. There was lots of talk of data analysis, of acronyms like PISA, NAPLAN, ACER, VCAA, ISQ, GKR, PAT, EBO, PATT … and on it went.

Everyone wants a dashboard, and they want it now. Not as much talk about how we might deal with all that data once we have it, or how that might drive … well, even more data.

There were some refreshing asides, talk about creativity, problem-solving, the value of learning for its own sake and not as an atom in a productivity machine, but data. Everywhere data.

Most of the presentations are on Slideshare HERE

[Vette Dashboard by Wayne Silver, on Flickr – https://flic.kr/p/8rhcNg ]

Gamifying the (Australian) Curriculum

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Professor Jeffrey Brand – Gamifying the Australian Curriculum (Oxford Conference 2014)
Jeffrey Brand presented a keynote on ‘Gamifying the National Curriculum’ at the Oxford Conference and tried to turn it into the first gamified keynote ever.
Gamifying is not a dirty word, he argued. Games have clear goals, immediate feedback and a social layer.
Other elements he saw as important were ‘badges’, levels, which signify ‘progress’. These have been in the ‘Horizon Reports’ since 2007 but which are not referred to more than sporadically in the AC.
Gamification is using aspects of games (game mechanics) in other activities, like learning. Games are problem solving activities approached with a playful attitude. Isn’t that what learning should be like? It’s different from GBL (games based learning) which is using existing games for classroom activities.
Game mechanics include: points, levels, increasing difficulty, low risk points, progress, narratives, quests, social engagement, mastery, virtual goods, leaderboards, use accumulation not averages …
Some final lessons:
  • Design for narrative-play and flow. I liked that.
  • Don’t add a thin layer, like badges, on content. Oops.
  • Don’t force people to play.
I tried Class Dojo a couple of years ago and I’ve tried things which *might* be construed as game elements (badges etc) but this presentation didn’t really grab me, or convince me. I’m not a game player. I don’t know if my students need an extra artificial construct to be interested in the learning. The more the ‘game’ of the keynote progressed the more I disengaged. The woman next to me was the opposite, getting very animated, racking up points, enjoying answering the questions, ‘how many points was that worth?’, she called out. She interrupted him mid-sentence to point out the deliberate spelling mistake. She was more interested in the game than the learning. The game had supplanted the learning. I didn’t want to play the game.

Where are we with Australian Curriculum?

These are some notes from the keynote by Dr Phil Lambert from ACARA at the OUP Conference today.

Dr Lambert gave an update to the Australian Curriculum, including a reiteration that AC funding was continuing despite recent Federal Budget announcements. He talked about the big achievements so far particularly around the comparison of achievement standards.

ACARA has developed curriculum in eight learning areas, ‘incorporating both the traditional subjects that have stood the test of time while incorporating new content, skills, dispositions’, which he called 21C skills.  Languages was nearly completed and would be on the website soon, as well as new languages being developed.

He claimed that AC was world class, and countries like Brazil, Korea and Saudi Arabia were looking to the AC for inspiration, particularly in the skills and dispositions area. Interestingly, he argued that personalised learning and smaller class sizes were also on the agenda for China as they looked to move from content-only curriculum.

He was more coy about the cross-curriculum priorities, and their future, describing them as ‘choices’ that teachers could make depending on context.

One of the achievements he was proud of was the resource development in Scootle, with links to the AC content tags, being available to all Australian students. 

Some world trends: GELP. and a focus on new metrics. He linked this to Gates Foundation funding. Are we measuring the things we really value? Even when they’re hard to measure. 

He talked a little about the myths and misconceptions about AC that often appeared in the media. He did seem concerned about this in a guarded way but it’s obviously something they are concerned about. He said that ‘some areas of the media’ don’t want to tell the ACARA version of the story. One of their learnings here was not to rely on traditional media, but use social media much more to get their message across.

What next? Secondary curriculum still under discussion. ‘We are in dialogue’ and looking for suggestions from teachers. Implementation will vary, and implementation might be influence, rather than direct use of the curriculum. Illustrations of personalised learning to come, F-10 Arts; Humanities and Social Sciences (Economics and Business, Civics and Citizenship) Health and PE, Technologies. Lots of this on the web with varying status in terms of implementation.  Chinese, French, Italian, Indonesian done and 7 more languages to come, as well as work on indigenous languages. Work samples coming online and continuing to be developed. A completely new website was also coming soon. NAPLAN is now aligned to AC, they’re looking at online NAPLAN, and extending NAP sample. I was surprised that, the day after NAPLAN testing had finished, he didn’t feel the need to apologise for what it has become.

#OEC2014