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Posts Tagged ‘curriculum2.0’

Thinking together

November 2nd, 2008 Dennis Harter 3 comments

I am at the EARCOS Admin Conference in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

I have just come out of the room after presenting the I.T. Curriculum 2.0 presentation that Justin and I developed a year ago and its newest iteration.  Was a great turn out and a wonderful conversation.  People offered terrific insight and questions and it is an awesome reminder how smart the people running schools are.  And it’s an honor to start a conversation with them about rethinking how students learn and what they need to learn.

(Click on the Presentations tab to get to my wiki to see notes and resources from the presentation.)

What’s additionally cooler though, is having a colleague like Jeff who live blogged my whole session to his audience and created a back channel conversation on all of those thoughts.  Thanks Jeff.  Check out the unbelievable conversation that happened online, live as I was presenting.  Talk about shared learning!

Next presentation on Tuesday, 13:45 my time which I believe is GMT +8.  Looking for Learning – How supervsiors can foster best practice technology use.  The more I’ve been talking with administrators, the more I see that this is something a lot of schools want to know more about.  I’m excited.

Presenting in Kuala Lumpur

March 26th, 2008 Dennis Harter No comments

It’s ETC time again.  This year the conference is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – my old stomping grounds.  Lived there 8 years, got married there, and 2 of my 3 kids were born there.  It’s going to be fun to be back.

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At the conference I will be presenting the new literacy curriculum ideas that Justin and I started and blogged about in a 5 post appearance as guest bloggers on Dangerously Irrelevant and here (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) on Thinking Allowed.  This work in its initial phase was presented at the Learning 2.0 conference in Shanghai in September.

Since then, other great minds (not that our own were great) have contributed to refining it to an awesome starting point for an embedded technology curriculum that focuses on thinking rather than technology.  We have formed an ISB21 team to build it, support it, and enact it.   We still have work to do, but it’s coming along nicely.

Kim Cofino, from Always Learning is part of that team and will also be presenting in KL on “Developing the Global Student: Practical Ways to Infuse 21st Century Literacy in Your Classroom”.

If you are going to be in KL this weekend for the conference, I hope that you can swing by that session and my own workshop:

IT Curriculum 2.0, Session V, 11:45-12:45, Johore Room.

How does and information and technology curriculum stay relevant and meaningful in the 21st Century? In the face of exponentially changing times, old I.T. Scope and Sequences became outdated the moment they were printed. Schools need an embedded I.T. curriculum that ensures that the way students learn with technology agrees with the way they live with technology. It must focus on habits that provide students with opportunity to succeed not matter what their futures hold. This session shares a new model that speaks to these habits and makes 21st Century Learning accessible to teachers and students. Begin the conversation here and continue it at your schools.

Hope to see you there, if not at the workshop, perhaps at the pub!

Moving forward – from rhetoric to reality

February 15th, 2008 Dennis Harter 1 comment

Also posted as a guest blogger on Dangerously Irrelevant 

So where do Justin and I go from here?

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Over the past week we have taken some time to reflect on our process of creating a meaningful and usable framework for embedding “21st century literacy” into our school curriculum. Part 1, 2, 3, 4 sought to guide you the reader through our thinking and seek out feedback and friendly criticism. Blogs are such a great venue for conversations like this.

Our final post asks for advice on how to make it a reality.

Our framework was designed with the International School of Bangkok and its teachers in mind. While we feel it could apply to any educational setting we are not bound by any external curricular limitations other than that which the International Baccalaureate sets out in grades 11 and 12. Our school is heavily invested in the UBD (Understanding by Design) approach to unit/curriculum planning and as a result we have chosen to use “essential questions” to guide our framework.

To quote from an earlier post:

Looking at Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design approach to curriculum and unit design we liked how big “essential questions” and “enduring understandings” had helped us plan and design units when we were teaching math and social studies. What if this same “best practice” approach could be applied to the way technology was used and talked about in the classroom? If this was good curricular design practice, why should technology and thinking curriculum be any different? What if that same approach was used in the way we looked at connecting technology and learning across the curriculum? What if there were only a few manageable questions that even the most tech-resistant teacher could see value in?

Best practices regarding meaningful technology integration vary world wide. As technology is a real and relevant teaching and learning tool, we felt that our approach should leverage internationally-recognized best practices and current research if it was to truly gain acceptance in our school. Whether you use the new NET Standards as a framework or something else, it is important that you meet your teachers where they are and stay consistent with what is accepted and established practice in your own school environments.

When we walk into school every day we are confident that kids are learning how to read, write, and do math. Our teachers are trained to teach these subjects. We trust in their professionalism and in the belief that these teachers want to prepare students for their futures.

In our embedded curriculum model, we have tried to ensure that the nature of “what teachers have to teach” seems accessible to them and just as importantly doable – that the conversations involving technology are conversations that teachers are already having about truth, safety, communication, and collaboration.

But theory is not practice.

  • What are the best ways to get teachers not only on board and trained, but fundamentally believing in the importance of including this curriculum into “the way they do business”?
  • How do we get to a place where we have the same confidence in students learning information literacy skills as we do in the other subject areas?
  • If your school is on the right track and doing this, how have you made it happen?
  • What has been the tipping point to go from talking about it, to doing it?

This is where we want to go. We would like your input. It’s time for the collective intelligence of the Web 2.0 world to kick in.

None of us is as good as all of us.

Please chime in.

Thanks for joining us this week. (In particular, thanks to Scott for lending us his audience.)

We’ve enjoyed the conversation.

with Justin Medved

Cross Posted at: Medagogy and Dangerously Irrelevant

Refining the idea and creating understanding

February 14th, 2008 Dennis Harter 5 comments

Also posted as a guest blogger on Dangerously Irrelevant

Yesterday, Justin and I wrote about our efforts to broaden the conversation that we had been having within our department with our wider school and the leaders within it. It became very clear to us early on that unless there was a shared understanding of concepts like “21st century literacy” and why our classrooms needed to educate for it, then we would be stuck in a curricular holding pattern.

There is lots of talk about the need to broaden student literacy to encompass and address the skills needed to navigate the new visual and information landscape, but what does that look like in practice and how do you write it into the K-12 curriculum in a way that is manageable and meaningful?

Our initial work led us to form five essential questions that we felt met the needs of a 21st century learner. It was our feeling that a curriculum focused on just five questions would be much more manageable for the average teacher. These questions speak to thinking, critically evaluating, analyzing, and communicating. They value responsible behavior and knowing yourself as a learner. In a world in which it is impossible to predict what technology children will be using as adults, it is the “answers” to these five questions that will provide students the opportunity to succeed and thrive in the 21st Century.

The power of these Essential Questions, lie in their applicability to all ages and to discussion more important and broad than technology standing alone.

A grade 1 teacher can and should have valuable discussions with students about being safe or recognizing truthful information. Who are the people you trust? What about them makes you believe what they say? What makes one “source” more valuable than another? Those same questions can be asked throughout a child’s schooling, but the answers begin to include more sources and more critical examination of their world. And eventually, they begin to include technology. If experimentation and data analysis is a way to know something is true, then you will have to learn how to use the technology needed to analyze that data. If being safe is valued, then learning about responsible use of social networking sites, issues of privacy, and web 2.0 technologies inevitably will be discussed at a time appropriate to students’ use.

It was our feeling that the broad nature of these questions makes them accessible to teachers whose responsibility it is to embed this curriculum into their students’ learning.

Teachers believe that they can teach effective communication.

They don’t believe they know much about PowerPoint.

Nor should effective communication be limited to a software title anyway. The answers to these Essential Questions are higher-order thinking skills and issues of global citizenship. These are the skills we NEED students to have and the ones that will serve them well once they leave the arena of formal education.

These were our beliefs and they had come from hours of conversation and reading about the subject. If we wanted to move our ideas forward others would have to own them as well. So we got some key players and leadership from around the school to come together on a number of different occasions to bring some different experience sets to table to refine our idea.

Our google collaborative document was the perfect venue to allow this to happen. It was fascinating to watch as 12 people debate and edit the same at the same time. What a powerful tool!

Our first challenge was to answer the question “What do we want our students to learn?” Our framework provided much of this information but it was also important to try and outline what we wanted our student to be able to do once they were finished at ISB. From the perspective of this framework we all agreed that the ideas could be synthesized down to three areas.

We wanted out students to be:

Effective Learners

Effective Communicators

Effective Collaborators

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From this starting point and as a result of much discussion and collaboration, we all agreed that our ideas and five essential questions could be refined further down to three new questions.

How do I responsibly use information and communication to positively contribute to my world?

How do I effectively communicate?

How do I find and use information to construct meaning and solve problems?

With these questions we then proceeded to flesh out the enduring understandings that went with them. It was our feeling that these should always be evolving to address the changing face of communication, collaboration and information. The curriculum would be in constant beta. A testament to the ever expanding nature of the skills it was attempting to map.

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What do you think?

  • Do the 3 questions miss anything?
  • Is this accessible to the classroom teacher?
  • Could you sell this to your admin?
  • What barriers do you see?

with Justin Medved

Cross Posted at: Medagogy and Dangerously Irrelevant

Tomorrow’s post: Part 5 – Moving forward – from rhetoric to reality.

You can't skip the conversations

February 13th, 2008 Dennis Harter No comments

Also posted as a guest blogger on Dangerously Irrelevant under the title, “Curriculum 2.0 – building buy-in and shared understanding”

In our last post, Justin and I shared with you our 5 essential questions for the 21st Century Learner as well as our thinking behind how and why we felt the need to re-shape the way “technology” curriculum is embedded into classroom learning. We built our work on our new literacy wiki – as a collaborative environment for us, but also in anticipation of wanting needing to share our work with a greater audience for feedback and ultimately contribution at a later date. The wiki was the perfect environment for this. By documenting the evolution of this curricular journey in a public venue we hope to garner feedback and critical friending that will hopefully lead to a better and stronger framework.

Besides isn’t this “shift” all about the power of sharing and networks?

While it’s focus is on making “technology integration” more accessible to teachers and more meaningful to students, it actually attempts to articulate an approach and create a through line that run beside all other subject curricula. Finally an answer to the question “who is going to teach these skills?”……….. Everyone is.

We called it Curriculum 2.0.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/4xBYSdMK1LU" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Once we finished the initial framework it was time to get some feedback.

Involving our Curriculum coordinators, Technology Director and our new colleague, Kim Cofino (how lucky were we?!), the conversations that emerged were awesome. We felt it important to shop the concept around to as many different people as possible in order to get a balanced perspective. Teachers ultimately want to know “what will this look like?” and “how will be it be supported?” and we had to have some answers ready. Through conversation, challenging questions, and true collaboration, we were able to fine tune our original 5 questions into three focused roles of technology in 21st century learning. More on this and the on the philosophy behind our structure in our next post, but until then you can ruminate on the diagram below.

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In this post, we wanted to focus on the conversations that got us here.

In addition to working with key people at ISB, we presented our work at the Learning 2.0 Conference in Shanghai in mid September. The feedback was very positive. It was validating to see that other technology coordinators were experiencing the same sort of difficulties with past IT integration scope and sequences. And it was energizing to see that our work was striking a chord. [side note: Dennis will present the work further at the EARCOS Teachers' Conference in Kuala Lumpur in March. If you are there, it'd be great to see you at the session.]

With positive vibes flowing all around, the next step was to include our school leadership. As we mentioned in an earlier post, we work closely with our school Leadership Team in a distributed leadership model with them often looking to us for guidance – leadership in a different direction. Over the past year, we have been presenting various technology tools and ideas to the LT to give them a better sense of what to look for in classrooms and what to expect in educational change in the coming years.

Here in the edublogosphere, we often preach to the converted. In general, there is a lot of agreement on how education needs to change and technology’s role in that change. We recognize the shift that is happening and the impact that will have on our students and should have on their learning. We commiserate on how administration or faculty just don’t get it and celebrate together when they do.

We seldom talk about how important the process to bring them along is – that is a conversation that matters.

Question

Our work with the LT brought this to light for us. To a large degree, they trust us. And that’s a great start, but to enact major curricular change, we had to first convince them of the need. We had to describe an inevitable world that required innovators, thinkers, collaborators, and communicators. One in which knowing something was less important than creating something and in which working in a group meant talking to people around the world and being able to communicate in more than one way.

We had to create a shared understanding of what 21st century learning is and why it’s important. We had to allow them to help frame the context in which this could work at ISB. With that individual, personal input, you can achieve buy-in. Then you can challenge them by asking, what are we going to do about it?

Our point: you can’t skip these conversations.

As other schools or technology folks begin to use our framework to develop their own integration plans, we remind them, make sure you have the conversations. Use our work as a starting point for conversations that encourage questioning and challenge thinking. If we can’t defend our rationale for a curricular model like this, then it isn’t worth doing. Give stake holders a chance to process, question, and understand. (sounds like good teaching!)

Whether it comes via top leadership or from another direction, in order for school change to happen, buy-in has to come from shared understanding. And that only comes from conversations that matter.

For us, the next steps are to flesh out our framework and bring it more formally to teachers, where again, conversation will lead to shared understanding. It’s what didn’t happen at T.C. Williams and why all the tech in the world isn’t improving student learning there.

No matter how “right” we know we are, you must get buy-in and shared understanding.

You can’t skip the conversations.

with Justin Medved

Tomorrow’s post: Refining the Idea

Cross Posted at: Medagogy and Dangerously Irrelevant

Birth of a question and paradigm shift

February 12th, 2008 Dennis Harter 1 comment

Also posted as a guest blogger on Dangerously Irrelevant.

Last year, Justin Medved and I sat down to tackle the big question, “How does an information and technology curriculum stay relevant and meaningful in the 21st Century.” As Technology and Learning Coordinators at the International School of Bangkok this question was important to us for three reasons.

1) 2006-7 was a WASC accreditation year for ISB and we were charged with taking a look at the K-12 Information Technology curriculum and creating a plan of action to improve it.

2) The discussions and writings coming out of the edu-blogosphere last year were rich in ideas all about “shift” , “re-thinking” and “who is teaching these new skills?”. It was hard not to feel like there was some momentum building around a fresh educational paradigm and a shift away from the “integration of technology” in the classroom, moving towards “embedding” it in the way schools “do business”.

3) Prior to our roles as coordinators we had both taught in schools with elaborate technology scope and sequence plans which we felt had little to no impact on learning and often became outdated the moment they were written. We also felt that the previous NET standards were too bulky and disconnected from the average classroom teacher. We wanted to create something that could stand the test of time and be manageable to the average teacher.

With initiative and a purpose driving us forward we sat down to write a rationale to guide our approach. We came up with this:

“We believe that technology is a tool that can help and enhance learning. Everyday we see technology used as a tool outside of formal schooling for communication, collaboration, understanding, and accessing knowledge. It is our goal in developing an integrated curriculum to ensure that the way students learn with technology agrees with the way they live with technology.

Technology is in a constant state of evolution and change. Access speeds, hardware, software, and computer capabilities all evolve and improve on a monthly basis. This change occurs at a rate at which it is impossible for schools to keep up and adapt. Is it not time that we create a curriculum model that understands and this fact and works with it rather than tries to control it?

Too often typical information technology curricula have focused heavily on skills and their scope and sequence across the curriculum. The hard reality of this approach was that they became outdated as soon as they were printed due to changes in software, hardware and the skills that students came equipped with.

Instead of asking the question “What technology skills must a students have to face the 21st century?” should we not be asking “What thinking and literacy skills must a students have to face the 21st century?” These skills are not tied to any particular software or technology-type, but rather aim to provide students with the thinking skill and thus the opportunity to succeed no matter what their futures hold.”

We felt strongly that for too long that way technology was integrated with learning focused more on the tool and less on the curriculum/content that it could be used to support. To compound this fact ,since technology changes so rapidly it became almost impossible to map what “skills” students needed to learn from year to year as new technology arrived on the scene and old skills trickled down age groups. It wasn’t long ago that spreadsheets were the domain of high school students in accounting classes. Now we introduce them to fifth graders doing graphing and data analysis.

Typically teachers saw teaching these technology hardware and software skills as “someone else’s job.” IT skills to be learned in isolation. Yet schools rightly began to insist that technology be integrated into classroom practice.

Under this technology skill curricular model, faced with teachers ill-equipped and not believing that it was their job, IT integration was doomed to failure.

We had to think bigger different ……..

Looking at Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design approach to curriculum and unit design we liked how big “essential questions” and “enduring understandings” had helped us plan and design units when we were teaching math and social studies. What if this same “best practice” approach could be applied to the way technology was used and talked about in the classroom? If this was good curricular design practice, why should technology and thinking curriculum be any different? What if that same approach was used in the way we looked at connecting technology and learning across the curriculum? What if there were only a few manageable questions that even the most tech-resistant teacher could see value in?

Over the school year we fleshed out these questions and ideas and came up five essential questions that we felt addressed the core elements of a comprehensive technology and learning curriculum – one focused on the thinking that was needed for the 21st century learner, rather than the technology.

  • How do you know information is true?
  • How do you communicate effectively?
  • What does it mean to be a global citizen?
  • How do I learn best?
  • How can we be safe?

You can read into the elements of each of these questions at our curriculum wiki – http://newliteracy.wikispaces.com/

What do you think of the approach? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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with Justin Medved

Tomorrow’s post: Curriculum 2.0 – Creating buy-in, shopping an idea and refining through collaboration

Cross Posted at: Medagogy and Dangerously Irrelevant


There are a lot of smart people

September 18th, 2007 Dennis Harter 1 comment

And many of them were in Shanghai this past weekend.

Having returned from the Learning 2.0 Conference hosted in Shanghai, China, I am still feeling the exhaustion/elation of a conference in which my thinking was constantly challenged, stretched, and inspired.

Thinking allowed?

Try thinking expected.

It’s not often that you attend a conference that is truly up your alley – where EVERY session has more than one workshop you wish you could attend. Where you can’t even attend your colleagues’ presentations for support, because you don’t want to miss out on learning something new or being inspired by someone else. (Plus your colleague needs you to go elsewhere, since he/she is missing a session due to presenting!)

Learning 2.0 was one of those.

Learning 2.0 was one of a kind.

(Maybe that’s not fair, I haven’t been to EVERY conference.)

I’ll end the superlatives here, because it won’t take long to do a search of the ed blog world to find others out there celebrating this event. Kudos to the organizers. You didn’t do it for the kudos, but kudos nonetheless.

So on to the details.

Reminded of what matters by McKenzie.

Inspired by Richardson.

Thought-provoked by November.

Reflective with Nussbaum-Beach.

Bummed that I missed any sessions with Fryer.

Had a blast with all of the participants. Ed Tech Geeks, the lot of us. And it was great!

I experimented with different, very-visual way to take notes at each of the sessions, which I will share next post.

Justin and I presented our new literacy curriculum, which we called Curriculum 2.0, which I wrote about in my last post.

More on this to come.

In the meantime, thanks to all who made the Learning 2.0 Conference such a positive experience.

Jeff speaks to the crowd

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Curriculum 2.0 (beta)

September 12th, 2007 Dennis Harter 3 comments

It is getting close to the Learning 2.0 conference in Shanghai and I am becoming more and more excited to present the work that Justin and I have done in preparing what we believe is a new and better way to approach technology learning in schools – Curriculum 2.0.

Better?

Better than what?

Better than the incredibly thorough, but utterly oppressive I.T. scope and sequences or standards (or some other s-word) that have been the norm at schools.

Better than these documents that – rather than making technology integration accessible – serve to intimidate teachers and foster the counter-productive notion that talking about technology is for tech geeks and experts, thus eliminating it from the classroom.

Better than what we’ve done before and seen fail.

At least we think so.

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Here’s the blurb on our workshop in Session 8, Sunday at 10:15 am (I’m not listed in the real program):

Information Technology Curriculum 2.0
By Justin Medved (and Dennis Harter)
At ISB, we believe that technology is a tool for learning. We believe that technology is used as a tool outside of formal schooling for communication, collaboration, understanding, and accessing knowledge. It is our goal in developing an integrated curriculum to ensure that the way students learn with technology agrees with the way they live with technology. At ISB we believe we must focus on the higher-order skills that are necessary for success in the 21st Century. These skills are not tied to any particular software or technology-type, but rather provide students with the opportunity to succeed no matter what their futures hold. In this session we will share our curriculum model and our implementation plan for the next three years.
Room: C-228

It’s a work in progress, but it’s progress that we focus on.

We’d love your feedback, so if you are going to be there, hopefully you’ll attend and give us your thoughts.

If you are coming to Shanghai, introduce yourself here and we’ll meet again in a few days!

Looking forward to it.

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