Friday, April 24, 2009

Collaborative Technology To Advance Curriculum Audit

The team of educators I work with continue to share their knowledge and skills as we work towards the completion of our curriculum audit project. This project was begun several weeks ago encompassing interviews, research and professional conversations about how to develop a district wide curriculum audit that creates a sustainable curriculum review process; therefore, impacting student performance. Through email and face to face meetings we began the work of composing a document with separate pieces of writing that needed to meld together our individual ideas, yet embrace the shared vision we had adopted as a team. To further our efforts I decided to ask the team if they were interested in a way to work on one document without all the emailing and creation of a newly revised version of the same document. It sparked an interest among them, so we headed to the computer lab to establish GMail accounts for the use of Google Docs. We then practiced using Google features, assisting each other in our own areas of strength as we began to build an understanding of how this technological tool could enable us to complete our curriculum audit project. Today we are currently learning to utilize Google Docs for our team project, but the doors it opened for us all are valuable as leaders of tomorrow's future.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Curriculum Development Through Collaboration

As I worked with my colleagues on the curriculum development paper, the word collaboration came to mind. We each contributed to the paper bringing forth ideas, suggestions, research and a vision of our end product. Interviews were conducted to find answers to the guiding questions our instructor provided. We analyzed the interview responses, studied the district's achievement data and utilized McTighe, Wiggins and Hayes Jacobs research to outline a curriculum development plan. The non-threatening atmosphere allowed team members to engage in delivery of critical feedback, positive reinforcement and continuous revision of the paper. As students, we greatly appreciated our instructor's scoring rubric being available to us in producing our paper so that it aligned with the course expectations. As I continue to learn more about the use of technology, I believe Google docs would greatly assist team members in working collaboratively on projects/papers such as this one, especially when time is of the essence and members are from various regions.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mapping the Process

Mapping curriculum, as suggested by Heidi Hayes Jacobs, aligns well with the concept Wiggins and McTighe define in their Understand by Design book. Both researchers utilize essential questions to guide the process in determining the curriculum , and share the belief that inquiry is the best practice for increasing depth of knowledge. I am sold on the idea of developing the curriculum at the classroom level, involving teachers from the ground up to truly build an implemented curriculum, not an intended curriculum. As an online mapper myself, I have learned first hand the benefits of projection mapping, diary mapping and read-throughs with staff. These stages in the mapping process have guided us in making data driven decisions about curriculum, assessments and interventions. I invite others to share their experiences with me regarding the mapping process and how it has evolved within your professional learning communities. Have you had any successes? What have been the challenges you faced as an administrator, teacher, or district leader?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Teacher as an Assessor

How often have we started a lesson plan with the organization of activities as opposed to the assessment tool that will be used to measure student learning? Educators will need a paradigm shift to begin the planning process as an assessor, in stead of an activity planner. We all have those creative lessons we hold dear in our hearts; however, it is time to let them go and begin to design lessons that truly measure the expected outcomes. Developing assessments around the essential questions that link learning to the standards can be a shift in mindset for many teachers. Let's not forget to mention that in earning that teaching degree, courses were not structured towards creating assessors. It will take patience, courage, support and time to develop educational assessors in our schools. Today's true educational leaders will grasp the concept of being an assessor, not an activity planner.