What is curriculum?

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During my course we looked into “what is a curriculum” so we could learn about how we talk about things. We were looking from a perspective of could there be one definition or should there be one definition?

We wanted to know if post-modernist thought was somewhat useful in a real world educational setting, and I guess as any good post-modernist, why is that good.  Our small class all had different viewpoints on what they thought curriculum was, and all of us could see success (especially if criteria of success was well defined when explaining curriculum).

This made me think a lot about how team meetings are structured (more at an IB school, or a school where teachers are more in charge of creating the day to day curriculum).  If we lay out our values at the beginning of the year, and we talk about the similarities we have, I wonder if our meetings throughout the year will be more effective.  It seems to me that most of our conversations that block us from effective co-planning are due to a difference in opinion about the why behind what we are teaching, not the actual things we are teaching.

Any thoughts?


Jackson, P. W. (1992). Conceptions of curriculum and curriculum specialists. In P. W. Jackson (Ed.), Handbook of research on curriculum (pp. 3-12). New York: Macmillan.

First Draft

I’ve been working on a brief fifteen minutes sense of place presentation for a conference in a couple of weeks.  Most of what I focus on is images, and after going over this a couple of times. I really notice that my font choice needs a lot of work (that will come in the next two weeks for sure).

Regardless it’s allowed me to really think out what I believe and try to condense that down into fifteen minutes and I need to entertain other educators as well.  The process is really helpful and this is now my fourth presentation and I can feel my story becoming more focused and clear.

One of the benefits of me doing an image focused slide show is that it helps me tell a story, and the images work with the words to create some new neural pathways.  One of the detriments is that it doesn’t make much sense without the story.  However, I’ll embed it anyway.

Deep learners is one of my favourite conferences because after the two fifteen minute sessions people choose what they want to spend an hour on in the afternoon.  So the deep dive will be more hands-on based where we can try to sell our favourite places, and maybe dig into some conservation photography.

Working on Community

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I was reading this George Couros blog about smiling the other day about the importance of smiling and being aware of everyone in the learning community. I often think about who I am including when I go about my day, and who I may be excluding.  I know that at times I focus solely on the students, and miss out on support staff and families.  So this past week my goal was to engage them all with a smile.

Smiling made a bigger difference than I thought.  Not only were people more interested in what I was doing, or what I had to say, but I actually felt better about my day too.

How disruptive is silence?

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Just returned from a course on Cognitive Coaching with Bill and Ochan Powell where we talked about the power of listening, and being uncomfortable can be to our learning.

One of the things I started last year (and Bill and Ochan mentioned at the workshop) was the idea that as teachers, we don’t really teach listening.  Well maybe some teachers do, but things like looking at a person, focusing, and keeping eye contact doesn’t really mean listening to me.  I think listening means being able to summarize the thoughts of another, and make connections (without the purpose of summarizing or making connections).  I don’t know, I find it hard to fully describe (probably because I was never really taught).  Listening can be powerful, in this course we spent a lot of time listening, to each other, our instructors and ourselves, and honestly, I learned a lot. Mostly because I was quiet. This was incredibly difficult for me, I’m almost always trying to make connections to what people are thinking, and stopping myself from talking was something I had to learn. 
The point is, I think anyway, that making myself uncomfortable, really improved my learning.  Putting myself in a new situation, really trying to figure out someone else’s point of view, helped me learn more about them and myself. 
Since my main wondering are with technology and the environment,  I wonder how we can incorporate silence into our learning with technology.  So often we use our tech to distract us from the silence and those uncomfortable moments.  This, I feel, takes us away from those deeper learning opportunities. 
As teachers who use technology how do we initiate and establish those silence moments with a device, first in ourselves and then in our students? How can we make listening (active listening, or reading) a habit online rather than just consuming? 

Repurposing media

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Just got back from a vacation and have been wondering a lot about what we need to do to fully redefine what we think of media literacy.

I’ve been reading a number of articles and papers, this is one of my favourites, talking about what digital literacy and media literacy might be.  
What my main wonderings are, right now anyway, surrounds the idea of socialisation of media and literacy.  This could easily involve role plays, or something more “real”, but we also can dig deep into how we can redefine what we are reading, how we are reading and how we show what we’ve read.  
Blogs seem pretty obvious for some of our students, but even though we put our learning out there, that doesn’t actual socialise what we are doing, people might not respond, or might never read.  We can get students in the classroom filling the role of responder, but that doesn’t redefine what we could already do in a traditional classroom setting.  So, I’m working on connecting our students to places around the world.  Not for just taking content. 
As I was writing this I found +Jeff Utecht ‘s post on community trumps content.  
So how do we do this with reading? 

Listening to collaborate

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We’ve started our project about connecting students, seems okay so far, but we noticed something, we rarely listen.  Before we went online, we started sharing our migration stories, what that meant to us, but no one really listened to the other stories.

One of the worries teachers have about incorporating technology (and one of mine as well) is how much it speeds things up.  We need to slow down in elementary, and really think about why and how we interact with each other.  
It got our whole class thinking about what does it mean to listen.  We threw words around like “focus”, “pay attention”, “look at the person”, and other kinds of things.  We couldn’t really define what those things looked like though.  After some discussions and some personal blogging about listening some of the students had some great ideas.  One student though about using only one or two tabs, that would keep her focused on the task at hand.  One other student talked about the importance of finishing her work, and waiting until we finished.  
We transferred these ideas over to “real” life.  By keeping only one tab open, we’re only thinking about one thing (the conversation).  By finishing your work before moving on, we’re going to wait until the person is finished before we think about responding.  Some abstract ideas for sure, but we’re focusing on listening first. 
I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of weeks. For research we’re learning to skim and scan, there are more opportunities to look at how to finish more books rather than re-read or read deeply. So much of what we’re doing is encouraging students to speed up, then we get frustrated when they don’t stop and listen to us.  I really think we need to slow down.  

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Modelling this is going to be important for sure.  How do we listen to our students, what does it mean to be a teacher, especially in a connectivist world?  Lots of wonderings this week as we move forward. 
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Final Project – Making Connections

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I really want students to start thinking about how to make positive connections online, and then transfer those feelings into the “real” world.  I think that if we start fostering a connection before students transition into a new school we can make friendships more meaningful before students come.  We can also make deeper connections to other schools who may not be ever coming to see us.

I’m going to start this project in the new year with the grade 3 class studying migration ( I just checked my first UbD for Coetail and it was also about migration, funny huh?).

The important bit for me is making the emotional connection, the product and most of the process will be student led (I hope) because we are working on empathy and connectivism.

Here’s hoping anyway, let me know if you have any ideas.


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In George Couros’s quick blog about what learning is, he talks about the importance of connectivism.  The whole purpose and idea surrounding education now (or so it seems) is that we can connect to other people, and grow together. Like Louise I’ve always considered myself a co-constructivist, and I think that these two theories blend together quite well.  We co-create our knowledge, it is no longer limited to within classroom walls, or at a specific time.  Learning is everywhere, all the time.

I think though, that at times, we forget to make those emotional connections to people, places and things.  It’s easy to connect and still consume things from others (like we do online most of the time), it’s easy to connect and learn on the surface.  But I think for those deep learning opportunities we have to connect emotionally.  It’s possible, but not easy. 
In the video about the University of the People we learn about people who have made emotional connections to subjects, and others and how they want to move forward to create a better world.  Daniel Pink talks about how intrinsic motivation works more effectively than any kind of external reward (and as teachers don’t we know this already), so we need to make those connections to our work place, and students in order to truly and transformatively change something. 
So this has been my goal this week, with students as well as myself.  Make emotional connections, to things, people, places, I can do this online (and have been with my parents and friends this week), but also take time to do it in the “real” world too.  If connectivism shows the power behind the connections in our learning, then we have to make them meaningful.

I think that slow education can be powerful for this, even if we are online we can have meaningful interactions, we just have to focus on our connections.  Going slow, even online, to make those connections meaningful and emotional can make for powerful learning (I think). 

First week of "magic spots"

Student photo

This was our first week of magic spots.  I am only doing this with two students so far.  We are working on a year long project to make a stop motion video (as well as address feelings regarding) a specific spot in school.  The point of this project is to connect students to a place in nature.

When we first went out I was excited to get the project underway. We have a rather large field, and I said to the students you can pick anyplace you would like to be for your spot.  Both students stayed relatively close to the school, and only one picked a view of a tree (the other picked a view of a slide).  I had explained what I thought was important about the project, but both students had said they had already picked their spots (before we went out together). So while it was great they had been thinking about a space meaningful to them, I was a little concerned about where the space they chose. 
After the first day we did a short debrief regarding their feelings.  Both students just felt hot, and not real attachment, which was to be expected.  I found some grass that was seeding and got them to look deeper into their space.  This seemed to be effective.  After recess one of the students came up to me and noticed more grass that looked strange. 
So far, the project has been going as planned I guess.  The students seem interested, but it’s only the first week.  It might be a challenge to keep this enthusiasm happening all year. 
When I was a classroom teacher it was easy to make sure every student got outside and was quiet for at least five minutes a day, it seems so much more difficult without a class. 
They are all very excited about making the video though.