Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ferris State University, School of Education, EDUC 620 reflections on the concept and processes related to curriculum.


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  2. I am a life-long learner. Kelly

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  4. Whew! Step one completed. I'm signed on!

  5. Reflection Paper #1
    Diane Kreh
    Advanced Integrated Curriculum Design-Evaluation
    Week of June 15-19

    Engaging in curriculum study has sparked an interest in my mind to the point that it has given me the desire to ponder the curriculum I teach and how I teach it to my students. Our discussion on textbook vs. active participants challenged me to re-think my own methods of teaching. Yes, I do use textbooks to teach concepts, and I also use activities and group work with my students. Yet, am I balancing the two? Do I need more of one or the other? Am I requiring the students to read too much and discover too little, or the opposite?

    When we discussed what defines education, I have found that there are many ways to conclude exactly how it is defined in terms of schooling vs. the work force or even learning on the street. Can education be formal or informal? I have concluded that it can be either or both. Adapting to the culture/society in order to survive and make a living was one key component of our discussions. What exactly does it take to “make it in the real world?” How does that look for students? How does that translate into the classroom in which we teach? What does it mean to have an enriching future? It can most definitely be interpreted in many ways by each individual depending on the values and standards one has for him/herself or for the students.

    When I first began teaching I thought curriculum would and should be provided for me to follow. The longer I have been teaching, the more I have come to experience that a perfectly designed curriculum is not scripted, nor it is demanding all rote memorization. In class this week, Dr. Hines demonstrated how teaching by involving the students to become active participants allows them to think deeply and reflect upon the topics of discussion. Active participation engages students to make discovery on their own while being guided by the instructor to keep the focus on the discussion at hand.

    Many schools have become detached from providing the life experiences students need to survive and thrive. For years children have been raised in a three “R’s” society. However, in education today it is so much deeper than that. We need to be reaching the whole child. Problem solving and decision making are a couple of the critical skills for surviving. Simply providing answers to questions is not enough to effectively teaching. We need to provide students with the opportunities to use and develop these essential skills. Our discussions helped me to re-focus on what is critically important to teach and provide for the students.

  6. Reflection #1
    Week of June 15-21

    Of all the statements made during class this weekend, the one that stuck with me the most was, "learning is a social process." What this means is - in order to become a critical thinker and grasp the "big ideas", one must engage learners through a social process. But how often does this happen? In order for this type of learning to take place, a teacher has to change his/her classroom managment. This can be difficult for some teachers because it begins to place some control in the hands of the students.

    What does this type of learning look like? It involves discussion, exploration, movement, and colloboration. For some educators, this might appear to, at the surface, involve far too much prepearation on the teacher's part. However, I think when this type of learning is effective, the students are doing the work. The teacher is simply providing the opportunities for the students to use and build upon their critical thinking skills.

    I teach in an elementary school and I started to think about how I could apply this type of teaching/learning style to the curriculum I teach. I think we need to raise our expectations for all students - including students in grades k-3. By higher expectations, I don't mean just what level they are reading at or how many words they should get correct on their spelling test. We need to create an active learning environment for these students at the lower grades. Students should be using comprehension and questioning skills during literature groups and in all areas of the curriculum.

    Page 15 in Understanding by Design states, "...too many teachers focus on the teaching and not the learning." There have been times when I've found myself caught up in this mindset. I'm worrying about getting all my overheads, markers, scissors, etc. together and making sure I know what instructions I'll give my students. Instead, I should have been more focused on what my students will need to do in order to accomplish the learning goals. It is my hope that when school starts again in the fall, I'll have an entirely new outlook on how to reach my students.

  7. Reflection #1
    Week of June 15 – 19, 2009

    As I review my notes from class, it feels good to see so much written that makes me think, “Right-on!” or “Yes, this is why I went in to teaching.” As a class, we so easily came to conclusions that seem essential for education. We agreed that informal knowledge was just as important as formal. We all seemed to agree that knowledge that can’t be applied to life outside of the school walls or after graduation really isn’t worth teaching. I feel like I am among like-minded people when these principals are easily agreed upon. How do I get this clearness to trickle down to my daily lessons?

    In our groups we pondered and hammered out a vision, a mission statement, beliefs, and outcomes in a matter of a few hours. (I was surprised at how positive this experience was.) I feel like what my group has come up with so far are words I could teach by. I even feel that many of the projects I have my students do are aligned with the things we have written. Now, if I fast forward to October and November or March and April, however, I am certain will notice a disconnect between my summer-curriculum-class-enlightened-thinking-head and my oh-my-gosh-I-can’t-get-so-and-so-to-stop-saying-really-quite-inappropriate-things-long-enough-to-get-started-on-this-lesson head. I find the latter (along with other challenges) very distracting, and by the end of the year will most likely have lost sight of the big picture, let alone the students losing sight of the big picture of the big problem.

    I know that I am missing a piece or pieces in my thinking and lesson planning. I think I missing the part where I clearly state that big picture or big problem idea to my class, clearly state the projects’ goals, and repeat it like a mantra. It’s embarrassing to say that out loud. Like, “what in the world is she doing in there anyway?” Chances are (if I were painfully honest with myself and you all), I am teaching specific skills.

    I am still so glad that art is my subject. I love how art is such a vehicle for thinking, doing, learning, constructing, feeling, expressing, and experimenting. I know some lessons I used or implemented in the past have really been right-on. I am surprised, though, how often I don’t have those right-on lessons. Is there a formula or blueprint for planning that can make this vision come to life in each of my class periods? Whatever it is I am missing, I really hope I find it this summer!

  8. Reflection 1
    Kevin Kreitner

    Graduate student reflection log for 6-15-09;

    Curriculum is more than just what is being taught to the students. It starts out with what the group, “community,” is seeking, as a whole. Then it moves towards the mission statement of the school system. Followed by their beliefs and what outcomes the school and community are hoping to accomplish. Each of these intertwines creating a spider web of complex thoughts that can be interoperated a thousand different ways. We as educators need to create/develop curriculum with the understanding that all individuals are unique and that their needs need to be respected and met.

    Students take in every bit of information passed onto them; at least that is what we hope they do. Taking in all this information can be a blessing and a curse. You have to be leery of what you teach students, all too often educators teach the hidden curriculum. Opinions are just that, opinions. Staff members need to be aware of what they are saying and how students can interpret the information. Administrators have the responsibility to keep staff informed about relaying hidden messages to students. Either good or bad hidden curriculum can be a slippery slope. As Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet “Just the facts;” we as educators need to make these facts meaningful.

    Curriculum should be an ever changing, living document. Schools need to always be revisiting and revising its curriculum to maintain the direction of the community. People, students, and communities change every year. Why not the curriculum? I am constantly adjusting and tweaking my curriculum based on the needs of industry. I do see how general education teachers have it much harder to correct since they are test driven.

    Group dynamics also play a massive part in developing a curriculum. My classroom group has a very diverse/broad view on education and curriculum. We have a History teacher, Middle school teacher, Art teacher, and me, a Machine Tool and Welding Teacher. I see this as a typical community with everyone wanting what is best for their areas. The thing I feel we can learn from this is that all of our opinions are valuable. Each of us can learn to understand where the other is coming from and what they think is best for their areas. I am apart of an advisory committee where we have industry, teachers, parents, and students represented. We are all working toward one goal, better manufacturing education. It is quite different when you have a mixture, as in my group, and you see the problems and viewpoints they take. It is no wonder it takes so long to develop a working curriculum that is valuable for all in a school system.

    Final thought Mission statements are only words unless the schools staff, community, and students buy into what they truly represent. Every school has one but only a slim few follow them. Over and out Kevin Kreitner

  9. Class you may have to download Windows Live Writer to be able to copy and paste into the blog. It took me a while to figure it out so good luck.


  10. EDUC 620
    Week One Reflection
    Kelly Holeman

    I had an opportunity to continue the learning that began in earnest over the weekend in class. This week I participated in “curriculum camp” through my ISD (Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District). There were other districts represented as well, with the focus on Social Studies and Science. My mentor teacher participated in the English curriculum camp last year, and I eagerly accepted when approached by my SS (Social Studies) coordinator. Our task was to write assessments that can be used by anyone in Michigan that both address the GLCEs and correlate to the MC3 (Michigan Citizenship Collaborative Curriculum). MC3 is a curriculum that is being written by SS experts to provide lessons to teachers that incorporate the GLCEs. I have been using MC3 for World History, and find it an outstanding resource, so I was anxious to learn more about the U.S. History units, and provide a product that can be utilized by other teachers.

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    When comparing this task to the UbD (Understanding by Design) concept illustrated in the Wiggins text, the target (Stage 1) has already been identified (GLCEs) and also Stage 3 (Instruction) exists in the form of MC3. Our charge was to complete Stage 2 (Determining Acceptable Evidence). After receiving some training in writing fixed response and constructed response questions for assessments, we were cut loose in our groups of three to construct an assessment. We learned quickly how frustrating it is to be constrained to a set format of assessment when determining learning outcomes in the field of history, such as the “ideas” of freedom, democracy, equality, etc. Added to the frustration was the lack of intimacy with the MC3 units which had only recently been published, and the lack of “depth of knowledge” to use their words that the three of us possessed. It should be mentioned that the other two teachers teach 4+ preps, I only taught one section of this particular class last year, and none of us have been teaching for more than three years. The first day, I was wondering what it would do to my career and reputation if I withdrew from participation  However, I took a bold and risky strategic move instead….. I asked for HELP on behalf of my group.

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    What followed reinforced my dedication to education. One of the SS experts listened to our challenges, and directed us on a new course. First, she emphasized that we should take some time to read and think about the curriculum. “Watch the videos, read the articles, etc.” that are a part of the curriculum so you can gain a more intimate understanding of the core intent. Next, she ran interference with our ISD consultant in regard to the quantity of assessments. We were scheduled to write assessments for three units; they both assured us that one unit would be an ambitious undertaking and that we should focus on quality, not quantity. When teaching, I realize that students are not going to remember the details of historical events; however, they will remember and understand the “big ideas.” I talk about this with my students. When they leave my World History & Geography class, I expect them to understand the concepts of imperialism, nationalism, cultural diffusion, cause and effect relationships, and patterns.... anything else is a bonus! I also expect them to gain skills that they can transfer to other learning situations, such as reading, discernment, uncovering relationships, recognizing patterns, finding answers, etc. These ideas are part of my operational curriculum. The MC3 consultant provided more clear directions when she demonstrated that students should understand the ideals behind the construction of our founding documents (for example, since we were working on the Foundations Unit), not the nitty-gritty details. Now, we were on the same page. Once reassured and redirected, we attacked our commission in an entirely different manner, and all three felt more comfortable and confident with the process of assessing for the standards.

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    The final element of my assessment training/writing that correlated with our class last weekend was the collaborative nature of the project. As we all know, teachers have historically worked in isolation. Although group work can sometimes take more time as everyone’s input is processed and conclusions are debated, the end product is usually a richer, more valuable piece than a single person may generate. I gained respect for my colleagues as we unraveled the curriculum and shared our varied perspectives on each content standard. I learned from them, and felt fulfilled when I was able to clarify and give meaning to other elements of the content standards. We debated, modified, criticized (constructively), praised, and digested the curriculum and the assessment questions that we wrote until we arrived at a product we were all proud of. Just like my group in EDUC 620, we all had something to contribute, and I believe we all learned from each other. Our collaboration allowed us to understand the curriculum in a way working in isolation would never have allowed me to do. Collaborative learning is here to stay!

  14. fyi-When I posted, there was a character limit, so I had to break my reflection down and post in pieces. I'll try to be more succint in the future. Good luck!


  15. The term "curriculum" is defined in many diverse ways. Is this diversity part of the reason why some classes/courses are perceived better than others? Is curriculum the cog in the wheel? If so, why the delay in our industry in establishing standards?

    The State of Michigan is pushing online courses. Why hasn't the state applied the lessons learned from the last 10-15 years of curriculum development in the traditional classroom to online courses? Developing online courses is like being a pioneer ....but how many instructors realize that? How many instructors realize that online learning requires a different approach than the traditional classroom and so you can't just plop the curriculum being used traditionally in online-delivery software?

    I really liked the three questions: What should they be familiar with? What is important to know? What is essential knowledge/skill? I would like to filter through my segments using these questions to help determine which content needs emphasis.

    Null curriculum can occur because of lack stakeholder enthusiasm (as stated in class). does that make teacher's passive and powerless? If stakeholder's are not enthusiastic, why? Is it due to lack of knowledge, false assumptions, etc. Educators have to wear a marketing hat. I believe this is true whether our course is required or not required. We need to keep stakeholders informed on what our curriculum is valuable. For instance, during the second week I have a parent meeting. I show them the articulation and industry certifications that are available to their student. I translate this information into dollars and cents, whether it means tuition saved or potential jobs for their student in the future. It is always amazing how many parents leave the meeting with a different perspective and increased enthusiasm. This translates into parental support throughout the year.

  16. Standard school curriculums are an attempt to make education the same for all, but we are not the same. Most individuals learn in different ways and there are multiple learning styles. Some of us do not absorb information as fast as others while there are some that catch on quickly. Should these individuals be held back if their intelligence exceeds the standard requirements?
    There are the gifted/ talented, the average/normal, and the slow/special needs students. Changing the curriculum to accommodate the most common learning styles is a propped solution that will allow teachers to meet more of the curriculum’s learning outcomes. The idea is not to tailor individual curriculums, but to create curriculums for these common learning styles.
    The gifted/ talented students require learning activities that are more stimulating, which makes it difficult for them to adhere to a generalized curriculum. Because each gift/talent is so unique each student needs to be able to work on different levels at different times. Most of these students value their education more than others, learn at much faster rates, and thrive on challenge. The average/normal students would probably be the only group of individuals satisfied with the standard curriculum. Most of these individuals learn at an average rate and are able to keep up. The issue with this is their lack of motivation and involvement; they only do what’s necessary to pass and don’t seem to make the extra effort. The slow learner/ special needs students are other individuals that need to be considered in this standard set of curriculum. Will this curriculum apply to them or will they just be handled differently, which makes them feel like outcasts?
    Standardized curriculums impose limitations on some and appear to be too overwhelming for others. Students should be able to pace themselves in learning. Standards create competition, so all children have become competitors in a competition that results in a loss for everyone. The students are not retaining any of the required knowledge and the teachers can no longer encourage creativity.

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  18. School districts develop a mission statement that provides a framework for what the district believes and strives to do. However, I wonder if it truly serves this purpose. Do students and parents know what the mission of the district is? Do teachers know the mission and strive to implement it through their classrooms? I would guess that in most districts, the mission statement does not drive all that the staff members do. Maybe this is because they feel removed from a mission statement that they did not help develop. However, even mission statements created by staff members for their buildings do not seem to play a role in instructional decisions. This past fall, we developed a building wide mission statement. We spent time creating it, but nothing ever transpired from there. It was never posted anywhere, and I cannot recall all that it entailed. For a mission statement to mean something, it needs to be widely publicized and upheld by all staff members.

    The importance of believing in students and helping them reach their highest potential comes quite naturally for most teachers. Dalton Sherman (2008) raised my awareness of the importance of believing also in my colleagues in his speech to the Dallas Intermediate School District: "Do you believe in your colleagues? Do you? I hope so because they came to your school because they want to make a difference too. Believe in them, trust them, and lean on them when times get tough. We all know we kids can sometimes make it tough....Please believe in your colleagues and they’ll believe in you." I never before considered the need to not only believe that my students can do wonderful things but also to believe this about my colleagues. Honestly, I do not believe in all of my colleagues. The glimpses that I have had into some of their classrooms leaves me doubtful of either their belief that their students can reach high levels of academic achievement or their ability to effectively reach their students. While this is a terrible thing to think, what might even be worse is the fact that I do not do anything about it. I do not offer my colleagues insight into what they might try to better manage their classrooms or what learning activities they could try. I don’t always give them the support and encouragement that I should. Far too often as educators, we get so involved with what we are doing in our own classrooms that we don’t always see the needs that our colleagues have with which we can offer assistance.

  19. Students need to participate in transformative learning that requires them to be actively involved in their learning. I have struggled with engaging my students in this process. My first year of teaching, I found myself simply telling students information and not providing them with opportunities to reflect on statements made. This was mostly because they were so young that I felt that I needed to give them new information. I have tried to do more of this, but still feel like it is an area to continue to focus on for the next school year. Even though my students are young, they still have background experiences from which to draw information that can be used to contribute to their own learning. It is up to me to determine how to teach them to access this information throughout the learning process. I must ask the questions that require them to dig deeper into their own knowledge. The more that they are required to do this beginning in Kindergarten, the easier it will be for them throughout the rest of their education.

    Soon I will begin teaching summer school. The backwards design template will be of great assistance to me as I begin planning a course of action to help the students maintain and increase their mathematical knowledge. The math chair helped me to complete Stage 1 by identifying the skills deemed critical. As I continue to plan for the summer, I will need to plan for how the learning will be assessed and then select activities that can be used to help the students learn the objectives. When I taught summer school last year, I chose activities and lessons, but I did not consider the big picture of what I was trying to complete. I simply looked for hands-on learning activities that were linked to the grade level learning expectations. I anticipate that my using the backwards design template that my instruction this summer will be more focused and effective.

  20. I do not view standards as negative. I view them as a baseline for content that we must teach. I do not feel constrained with standards. In one sense, I feel liberated because I have a consistent representation of what the minimum content must be. I can then be creative in how I am going to present the content, and the choices I will give students so that I met the different learning styles. I have appreciated the standards in my content area.

  21. If I were constrained in how I could teach my students, then I would be concerned. I want the freedom to be creative in my program/classroom; I want to be able to accommodate the different needs represented in the multicultural classroom.

  22. I really enjoyed learning how our class members use and interpret curriculum in their varied classroom settings. It just goes to show how diverse our experiences as educators are in our respective communities. I found comfort in listening that we all have similar Big Questions when it comes to Curriculum and what is means to be “educated.” We all face the same challenges and struggles as we navigate through the curriculum we are handed. I hope that through this course of study, we will all find ways to effectively interpret and utilize this “matrix of outcomes.”
    I found it quite challenging to come up with a Mission statement that was all encompassing, and broad, yet powerful and not hokey. Like many people have said, the mission statement of districts and schools sound fine, but where is the application? They seem so contrived and “pretty”. I feel that the core beliefs and values are structured in a way that make them much more powerful and focused which gives direction to a school or district. I know how long people pore over the Mission statements when they are created and then set them aside and never refer back to them to see if they have followed through on their mission.

    I think it is interesting how different our mission statements were when we all put it on paper. All groups were given the same task and came up with great mission statements that were so varied. That made me consider how the cultural and geographical differences among school districts in MI and throughout the US have such influence on the curriculum of the students in schools across the nation. How can states or the United States create such a uniform, “state-wide” curriculum that will account for the diverse needs of students in our country? I thought Dr. Hine’s comments about gun safety in WV and swimming lessons in MI were very interesting. What is deemed necessary to learn for one student may not be applicable for others. Who are the “Curriculum gods” that determine what knowledge is essential? What makes my opinion less or more valuable than others?
    Another issue I had not thought too much about before this class was how much hidden curriculum is intertwined in any given classroom. Whether it is overt or unconsciously done, it is something to ponder. We are taught in our methods class about gender equity and fairness, but I do not remember being cautioned against injecting hidden curriculum in our lessons.

    Another issue I had not thought too much about before this class was how much hidden curriculum is intertwined in any given classroom. Whether it is overt or unconsciously done, it is something to ponder. We are taught in our methods class about gender equity and fairness, but I do not remember being cautioned against injecting hidden curriculum in our lessons.
    I thought the framework for clarifying Content Priorities (found on pg. 71 in UbD) was a fantastic way to organize our thoughts about curriculum, especially on the topic of what is means to be educated. I like the user-friendly feel of the UbD book, as well. I think for me, I do well with structure and I like the backwards design that we will be using to analyze and formulate curriculum. I am not totally against having a defined, structured curriculum that gives specifics about what I should teach. I do, however, believe that teachers need to be able to use and adapt the curriculum in ways that are most effective for their own students. The big ideas need to be addressed and identified. These big ideas and concepts should be assessed in the end, not individual threads or skills, but the whole “tapestry”, to quote Dr. Hines.

  23. Nancy, I feel very much like you do when you say you appreciate having the curriculum to guide you and give you the baseline for the content we must teach. I agree that it all depends on how the teacher interprets it and facilitates the content. As a beginning teacher I couldn't imagine not having specific details mentioned for each standard. Yes, it is overwhelming, but it is at least an outline to start with.

  24. Kelly,

    How interesting that you went straight from class one day to working on the ISD's social studies curriculum writing team the next! I am very curious to learn through our class and through our reading and discussion exactly what "Identifying the Instruction" and "Determining Acceptable Evidence" looks like. I had a friend who once taught in an urban school maybe 12 years ago using something called direct instruction or something similar. Her district had gone to an entirely scripted curriculum. Literally, she read a script (if I recall correctly) to deliver the lessons. Students wore uniforms and discipline was handled with very specific responses. I am wondering if your work with this "curriculum camp" group felt like you were somehow narrowing the choices and creativity of the social studies teachers or if you felt like it was a very helpful thing.

  25. To run a course, life experiences…As educators, our classes revolve around curriculum. It has always struck me as unusual that so many of us have no input, or sometimes the desire to have input, in the development and design of it. The scope and sequence of our classes rely on it, yet we often have little or no say in it’s design. We have to implement it every day, so the natural response would be to help design it accordingly. A lot of us gripe about it, yet are unwilling to spend the time required to develop it. Those of us that teach in the computer field realize how quickly things change, but curriculum is traditionally updated at an archaic rate. My philosophy, which I readily admit is the lazy way out, is to purchase curriculum from reputable national sources and adapt it to fit my needs. The money and time spent purchasing it are considerably less than trying to create it through the snail pace educational process.

    We talked about “teaching to the test” in class. This is a huge problem in every program. Once those on top of the ladder say, “here’s what students need to know at completion of this unit”, the groundwork is laid for exactly what to teach, and teaching to the test usually assures positive results. Not positive results for success on the students part, positive results for success on a test. Curriculum should be designed to focus on understanding, not rote memorization. Textbooks should be used as a resource, not a syllabus. Acceptable evidence of learning to a teacher is different than it is to an administrator. A student may not pass a standardized test, yet still be able to succeed at the task. However, when funding is tied to the standardized test, things change considerably. Who determines what understanding is? Bloom says it is “the ability to marshal skills and facts wisely and appropriately, through effective application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.” What kind of standardized test is going to measure that? The textbook gave a great example when they talked about over 2/3 of the students taking a math test getting the same three questions wrong. All they had to do was utilize the Pythagorean theorem to solve the problems, but they didn’t/couldn’t. If the test had asked what the Pythagorean theorem was, they probably would have all gotten the question right. But, asking them to transfer that knowledge to a new situation brought out the shortcomings of teaching to a test.

    Curricular determinant is a phrase I had never heard before. They dictate not only what the curriculum is, but also how it is implemented. Designing the best curriculum in the world is of no use if it can’t, or won’t, be implemented in the classroom. That’s the biggest reason educators need to take more of an active role in the process of designing it. Different districts need different curriculum, there is no “one size fits all”.

  26. Mission:
    The purpose of Mid Michigan Community College is to provide educational and community leadership for the development of human ability. To this end the College provides post-secondary education and services to enable students and the community to achieve success in a global society.

    As a considerable amount of this week’s class time was focused on a mission statement, it seemed appropriate to look at my schools mission statement. I know I have read it before, but now I can look at it from a new perspective (I did not remember a word of it). Perhaps I will be like that new car (or latest electronic gadget) buyer who did not notice many models of this new car on the road until the buyer got one. Now the buyer notices all of them and even the differences in colors and other options. Of course, the new buyer thinks his/hers is the best. Will I now remember the schools mission statement and think it is the best as it is observed from a new standpoint?
    Part of my new standpoint is that it needs to be brief. Even though it is brief at only two sentences, I think that the first, single sentence would be sufficient. A single sentence can include a lot and is much easier to remember and comprehend. For example, “development of human ability” leaves options open for a variety of areas the college can offer. The mission statement includes educational leadership as well as community leadership. Community leadership and involvement seems to be just as important to the college’s success.
    The second sentence of the statement also makes a reference to community success. What community means in this statement could be a range of things. In a vision statement that comes after the mission statement, the college does express a desire to “connect and partner with its community”. The two statements support each other in the desire for community involvement. Additional statements after the mission statement seem to mean that community means all members of the community within the range of the college services.
    The additional statements included after the mission statement are there to help support the mission statement. As well as the vision statement mentioned, there are also several enduring goals, which also include components of the mission statement. Each enduring goal then has a strategy, and each of these has several objectives and actions. All of these are a strategic plan for the college that starts with the mission statement. This plans structure and components are similar to that of a curriculum and the mission statement is an important focus of each.
    (The strategic plan can be viewed at

  27. Reflections 2
    Kevin Kreitner

    Graduate student reflection log for 6-22-09;
    Coming to you live from the Grand Valley State University Library

    Administration military mentality and the effects it has on public education curriculum. Last year I experienced the shift from a block schedule format to a trimester format. With such a change you would have thought the curriculum of all courses would have been analyzed prior to the change. Not at my school. We have a select group of ex-military in charge who see the collective group as not important. What they say goes and if you disagree, oh well. This has been the biggest mistake I have seen in my 9 years of education. We learned in our first meeting that the collective group has vast differences and that in order to make change you better start to understand others viewpoints and how they foresee what is being offered. In the military you have to accept orders from the top down. The ex-military administrators in charge at my school haven’t realized this nor have they captured the potential of the collective group.

    As Dr. Hines mentioned in class many authors of education books have little to no experience in the classroom. Maybe this is why I find it so hard to read about how I should be doing things. If they have no experience then what makes them the authority figure? Reflecting back on the course I have taken I realize I don’t remember a whole lot from the readings but I do recall a vast amount of knowledge from the group discussions and instructors viewpoints. There is something about hearing the problems others face and how they are corrected that makes this information memorable.

    Factual knowledge vs. conceptual knowledge. I understand that we need to get students to conceptual knowledge but there is always a small need for factual knowledge. Machine tool and welding students need a starting place to begin (factual) and when they have this mastered them then move into a more conceptual frame of thought. Without the proper sequences the final product is not obtainable. It is up to educators to blend these two to create a learning atmosphere that all students want to learn. Balancing these is like a titer-totter. When one side goes down to much factual knowledge a students learning is hindered and the other side, conceptual knowledge, needs to be explored to bring balance. If it goes to far the opposite way then students are out of tune with reality.

    Belief statements and how a school can use these to develop school unity toward the good of the mission statement. I have been pondering the thought of how to make my school more aware that the collective group is stronger than just the departments. If we were to have roundtable discussions on what our departments feel is our top five belief statements. Then take these five statements and have each department report them to the entire school you could, hopefully, link common areas. Staff members need to know how others feel and that all are working toward the good of the student body. Beliefs are a powerful motivation for people and if they truly believe they will commit to making a better place for learning. Take all of theses ideas and condense them into an area where they can be posted for all students, staff, and community members to read.

    Final thought, maybe it is just me or maybe it’s my subject matter but I have always butt heads with authority figures. They give their opinion on how to make my course(s) better when they know nothing about my subject area. What we should be doing is linking course work together and working as one.

  28. Reflection Paper #2
    Diane Kreh
    Advanced Integrated Curriculum Design-Evaluation
    Week of June 22-26

    Educating students with the most adequate curriculum and knowing what is going to prepare them for the future is a challenge for any school district, administrator, or teacher. The determinants of curriculum, as discussed in class, are going to affect the outcome of what is actually taught vs. what is desired and necessary for teaching. Differing viewpoints among staff and co-workers, one’s own philosophy based on values and experiences, and narrow or broad viewpoints will all determine how curriculum is implemented and its outcome, as well as personal agendas and products available.

    Choosing the proper curriculum is an on-going work in progress at my school. Currently I have been serving on the education committee, so I have the opportunity to be involved in lengthy discussions and planning for the K-12 curriculum needs in our district. Much discussion involves all of the mentioned determinants, so I can relate to each one. There are many diverse viewpoints, values, and experiences just among our committee members. We have teachers, professors, board members, administrators, and parents with whom to collaborate. I have been enjoying this experience, yet it has brought me to realize that those who have not taught in the classroom with living-breathing students, like Kevin mentioned, definitely have a differing viewpoint from those of us who have first-hand experience in teaching.

  29. Part II

    There is value in having classroom experience when choosing the right curriculum for implementation. We also have to be careful what we approve or disapprove of because our budget determines much of what we are able to do. Therefore, curriculum choice is also guided by our district’s budget. When we finally research, study, analyze, and decide on which curriculum would work the best for us, the cost is normally the final determinant. At times we have to eliminate certain materials we feel would not be vital and had to take the “bare bones” approach - what was really needed vs. what was really wanted.

    On p. 33 of Analyzing the Curriculum, Posner states, “Curricula are constructed by groups of people confronted with situations that demand action on their part. A curriculum is part of an ongoing dialogue between people with differing beliefs about and commitments to education and, in particular, different beliefs about what people should learn to do in school. To view a curriculum as the product of a group of people faced with a series of technical, economic, and political decisions, guided and constrained by their own personal belief systems, is the first step toward a deeper understanding. In order to analyze a curriculum we need to determine what motivated and guided its developers.” We all have differing views on how a curriculum should look and what the desired outcomes should be. I believe it is the duty of all involved to discuss and determine what “education” means, the mission statement of a district, the belief statements, the goals and objectives, and the desired outcomes before choosing a curriculum to satisfy the needs.

  30. Reflections #2
    Nancy Kuzma

    My program requires that students learn facts before they can begin to explore theory and gain understanding in the technical world. My students learn about 700 vocabulary terms. I often tell my students that it will feel like they are learning a foreign language. To discuss technology, you must use technical terms. If you do not, you are doing the students a disservice. They will embarrass themselves in the workplace, college, or with friends who are technical. There is value in using matching or multiple choice tests for testing factual knowledge. I admit it would be very boring to just be learning facts. That is why I have students doing labs at the same time. The technical language is used in the labs, so they are experiencing reinforcement learning, and they are able to learn by doing and draw inference from facts. I believe learning is not either or is both learning facts, and developing inference from those facts by applying the knowledge in a practical setting.

    Content standards help us identify the facts that need to be learned. The standards are driven from what the hiring individuals from various industries are indicating as foundational knowledge that people must have in order to have a successful interview and career in a field. I do not believe educators need to feel constrained by the standards, but liberated. We should know that we are teaching our students relevant facts that will help them draw important assumptions, inferences as they mature.

    The backwards development process makes sense to me. Coming from 20 years in the IT industry, we knew that to have a successful project (whether it be deploying software, updating hardware, migrating data from old software to new state of the art software) that we needed to know what the desired outcome was at the beginning. If the outcome isn't clearly defined in the beginning, scope creep is likely to happen. Defining what you want students to learn from a lesson plan at the very beginning, will help curriculum developers stay focused and not digress or veer off the goal. It just makes sense to use the backward process.

    I found the essential questions section a little boring. I felt that the section was wordy and redundant and would have been more effective if it would have been written more concisely. I understand what they were saying about essential questions; I just felt that it could have been written better and, perhaps, provided more clear, practical guidelines.

  31. Kelly Holeman
    EDUC 620

    Curriculum Reflection #2

    In response to Kristine’s inquiry into my “curriculum camp” that I attended….. I don’t feel that the assessments we produced are overly restrictive because we truly constructed a generic assessment. It is brief, and not too content-specific. I believe it leaves plenty of leeway to teachers on how to teach the content. Our task was to cover the standards, of which there were many, so we had to keep it general. The idea is to provide a tool to teachers, but I do see how adoption of these assessments limits teachers too. The lessons that are provided in MC3 do an amazing job of teaching history in an engaging fashion.

  32. Kelly - Reflection #2 - Part Two
    Mastering Curriculum – the PLC way-
    After our first class, it struck me how similar our study of curriculum was to the PLC (Professional Learning Communities) model of education. On the wall of the conference room at my ISD (TBAISD) is the PLC mantra:
    CURRICULUM- What do students need to know and be able to do?
    ASSESSMENT- How will we know when they have learned it?
    INSTRUCTION- What strategies work for all students and what will we do for students who have difficulty learning?
    Our Wiggins & McTighe textbook describes three stages to backward design as:
    Stage 1: Identify desired results
    Stage 2: Determine acceptable evidence
    Stage 3: Plan learning experiences and instruction

    These two very similar philosophies reinforce to me that you can’t begin until you know where you are going. I have learned quickly in education that you don’t always “get there” in the way you planned, but there has to be a plan. This way, students do have the opportunity to acquire the appropriate skills at the appropriate time, and teachers don’t have to guess what other teachers are doing. As a Social Studies teacher, I need to know what “my” students are learning in elementary school and middle school in order to make their high school learning experience more meaningful. Another thing I plan to do a better job of in the future is communicating those “desired results” to students. I introduced this last year, but feel I didn’t follow through enough. I need to empower students, and constantly bring the class back to purpose of the curriculum. It is a way to hold myself accountable. Will we still wander off topic occasionally if our discussion lends to it… absolutely. But I think it is important to keep our “eyes on the prize.” By simply displaying the “big questions” in the curriculum during each unit, as a class we can revisit those questions and connect our learning to the curriculum. Last year, I tried to put that big question out there, and then have students write an essay using all of their notes from the unit to answer the question. Some did a fantastic job, but others really struggled because they really didn’t understand the content connections in their notes. This is where my old friend “differentiated instruction” comes into play. This is one nut I would like to crack….how to make instruction challenging, engaging, and attainable for ALL students ALL the time. Whew…. I’ll have to reflect more to answer that……. I’m still searching!

  33. Kelly, the search never ends, great teachers are always adapting and evolving to meet the students changing needs.

  34. Kristine Harvey
    Reflection 2
    Week of June 22-26, 2009

    In preparation for this reflection, I have continued to read in both texts. Coincidently, I have also been attending some lectures on C.S. Lewis where one of the lectures was on C.S. Lewis, the educator. One quote about education from C.S. Lewis that I have gleaned from this week is “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but the irrigate deserts.”

    As I dig further into our texts and attempt to assimilate all these thoughts, I am finding it easy to be overcome by all these words. (Remember, I am an art major!) It is tempting to throw up my hands and surrender! This must be a feeling that at least someone feels in all my classes (and all classes everywhere.) The big question I keep hearing in my own head is, “What the heck am I supposed to be learning here?” The kind words of C.S. Lewis wanting to contribute to my survival, growth, and learning (irrigating deserts) rather than tear down all my confidence or the knowledge I have gained through experience and prior knowledge (cut down jungles) seems in alignment with Dr. Hines intent. So, after being thoroughly overcome with all the talk and jargon in the texts, I looked for an easy way out.

    I dove into the fourth chapter in Understanding by Design on Essential Questions. On page 119 I simply substituted the words art for dance in the section that takes national standards and formulates topical and overarching essential questions. When I do this, I come up with the statement that art is a way to communicate meaning. A topical essential question is “What ideas can we express through art? How can images, 2-D or 3-D convey emotion?” And an overarching essential question can be “In what ways do artists express what they think and feel? In what ways does the medium influence the message? What can the artist do that the non artist cannot?”

    By looking at the questions this way I can begin to see how these questions could shape a whole year’s curriculum or at least a unit. We could look at a variety of artists’ murals and look at their intent. For example, we could look at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo, the mural at the Detroit Institute of Art by Diego Rivera, Picasso’s Guernica and the somewhat graffiti artist, Know Hope, working in Israel today. How are these works similar? How do they differ? What was the intent of the work? How did the artist feel about this subject matter? What do the works’ color schemes communicate? Perhaps some exercises could be derived by extracting the color schemes of these artists and creating a simple composition of shapes and lines using these colors to communicate emotions. After doing these exercises, students could reflect on the effect that the colors have on these works.

    Ooooh!!! I’m liking this!

  35. Reflection - Week 1 June 14-21
    While reviewing my notes and reflecting on our first session what struck me was my lack of knowledge about how mission statements are developed and implemented. Despite the fact that it is partially my own lack of interest that precluded me from this process, I question why a school district would want to keep this process under wraps. It seems that the creation of a mission statement would be the most appropriate arena to include as many opinions as possible. Especially the people who are expected to implement that mission.
    Which begs the question, how can a teacher be expected to implement a mission they don't agree with and what will the district do about those not subscribing to the mission? If a school district is truly serious about their mission then administrators, teachers, all employees, and even physical environments should be geared to accomplish the mission. Does the school board consider the mission statement before passing budgets, or creating policies? Do administrators during the hiring process, or teachers while planning for that matter? I know the answer for me personally is no, and I wonder if I were to consider the mission statement would anything really change? I adhere to the state curriculum so probably not. If the entire district began to operate with the mission as the main question when making decisions I do think different decisions would be made.
    The challenge as I begin to engage others in a discussion about the mission statement is the defensive attitude it could generate. Without seeming to accuse members of my school district I need to ask them the questions mentioned above. Hopefully this will cause them to begin thinking about this idea and begin asking questions themselves.

  36. Reflection - Week 2 June 22-28
    If curriculum begins when a learner sets foot on school property what does the setting we provide tell learners about what we value and East Middle. More particularly what does my classroom tell the learners what I value? I have been thinking a lot about the hidden and null curriculum this week. What values do I convey that I do not even consider? Have I inadvertently discriminated against a particular view point, group, or way of thinking while learning history? Also what has been skimmed over in past because of time or curriculum and how does impact the learners?
    While it is slightly unnerving to examine ones own practice this is exactly what I and many others should be doing to keep current. Teaching the same thing year after year with little change is boring and I think it is what causes cynicism among experienced teachers. The great part about reflecting on your practice is that I feel empowered. I may not be able to make major changes to the school building I work in but I can make changes to my practice. With my acute awareness of the null and hidden curriculum I can now begin to ask questions and make changes that will in the end benefit the learners in my classroom.
    This benefit is not only about the material they are learning but about learning itself. Educators tend to think of weaknesses as something we need to fix and certainly not let our learners see. However, I believe the exact opposite they do need to see decision making done in public, and questioning of values, judgments, and mistakes. We expect them to know how to handle all of these things but schools do not publicly recognize that in curriculum, it is part of the hidden curriculum in many classrooms. Talk about learning life long skills, I have not been asked about the significance of George Washington's presidency outside of class, but I make mistakes, have to adjust and ask questions everyday. I am looking forward to evaluating my practice with the awareness of the hidden and null curriculum in mind.

  37. The decision to not include students with disabilities in normal schools and classrooms has been and will continue to be an issue for schools, teachers and administrators. Education acts were developed to ensure that all students between the ages of 3 and 21 years of age are brought together and educated equally. In order to fully include students with disabilities in educational programs, there has to be a plan in place that will make them feel equal. The curriculum is supposed to be that plan. School curriculums should require special education programs to re-structure in order to better service the needs of those students with disabilities and special needs.
    Full inclusion of all students regardless of their disability does not seem to be the answer. Sticking them in classrooms in the back of the school or in separate buildings is also not the best solution for everyone involved. Individuals with certain disabilities should be given the chance to prove themselves in a regular environment. If graduating from a regular school with friends is a realistic goal that can possibly be attained by a particular individual, they should at least be given a fair chance and the help and resources to assist the student. When and if the student fails other alternatives should be available for the student to utilize.
    There are methods being used in other states and countries that seems to work. One method gives the student a chance to gradually build the necessary skills to function in a normal setting. If the student has ambition and the willingness to try, he or she should be allowed to be some part of a regular learning environment. There are also systems to assist in the implementation of inclusive education. These systems include connection with other organizational best practices. Organizations can actually collaborate and re-develop their practices to include all types of individuals. These learning environments allow everyone to contribute some form of skill or talent to the school. Collaboration is important in these systems. Teachers, parents, and administrators are required to work together to make the plan effective for all.
    Realistically, all children with disabilities cannot be placed in a regular classroom environment, but there are some that can and want to, but are not given a choice. This is all because the student will require too much time and work and there are few educators that are interested in taking on this responsibility. I just recently had a not so good experience dealing with this topic and I feel that the lack of communication and collaboration was the reason my experience was not so good.

  38. REFLECTION PAPER 6.16.09-6.28.09 #2
    Dave Demski
    Outcomes; Learning Plans

    Ph 1
    Educational outcomes are the effect of education. These outcomes should indentify the accomplishments expected of the learners. Once indentified, and practiced, these accomplishments must be assessed to determine that the learners have met the goals of the outcome.
    Ph 2
    Rather than just a summative assessment, appraisal should take place throughout the attainment process of the outcome. This evaluation can be used to determine student progress as well as effectiveness of the instruction and design of the instructional plan. Corrections can then be made when needed to constantly improve the process. As educators we are always experimenting with what works to help our students reach the goals of the instruction.
    Ph 3
    To meet these goals, a well designed learning plan is needed. This learning plan provides the learners with an instruction manual for reaching the goals of the course or section of a course. This plan connects the objectives with the learning activities planned by the instructor, as well as linking these objectives with the course assessments.
    Ph 4
    A learning plan is an important step in helping learners to reach the stated outcomes of the curriculum. This plan can help students to be independent learners as they learn at their own best pace. It acts as a guide for these students and can allow the learner to be in charge of their own learning. The effect of this ownership can help students attain the desired outcomes.

  39. Reflection 2--June 22-28

    Students require a general knowledge base before they can be expected to interact with content in increasingly complex ways. Even though the overarching goal of education is to help students use and respond to information in ways that require them to use higher level thinking, they must first receive foundational information. Students need to be able to take this information and develop an understanding of “…which fact to use when” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 40). Moreover, students need to be able to transfer their learning to different situations and settings. “The ability to transfer our knowledge and skill effectively involves the capacity to take what we know and use it creatively, flexibly, fluently, in different settings or problems, on our own” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 40). What is the best method to instruct students so that they are able to transfer these skills to other settings? How do you account for differences in the level of students’ development that effect their ability to engage in higher-level thinking?

    Chapter 5 in Analyzing the Curriculum by George Posner (2004) begins with a scenario including two approaches to delivering instructional content to help struggling readers improve: explicit skill instruction and instruction within the context of reading. The perceived end goal of instruction often influences the methods used to reach that goal. For the curriculum coordinator in the scenario, the goal was to improve student performance on standardized tests. Explicit instruction in skills likely to be assessed on a test is apt to meet this end. In contrast, the teacher viewed the purpose of reading instruction to help students to apply their reading skills to actual reading activities. There is no doubt that skills in phonemic awareness, phonics, and comprehension are crucial to reading success. However, without opportunities to use these skills and receive additional instruction in a meaningful context, such as a book, the skills learned in isolation may not help the student improve as a reader. As educators, we must determine what the purpose of our instruction is. Is it to train students to simply respond to standardized test questions? Is it to help students learn information in meaningful ways through real life application? Our answers are likely to have a bearing on the instructional decisions that we make in our classrooms.

  40. The grade level content expectations (GLCE) established by the state should drive curricular decisions. Districts utilize curriculum committees to help with evaluating the appropriateness of various adopted curriculums and to ensure that they align with the standards. Theoretically, these GLCEs should determine the focus for a curriculum. However, I find that the writing expectation that my district places on Kindergarten students is far more challenging than the GLCE. The Kindergarten GLCE W.GN.00.01 establishes the goal that students will “…write a brief personal narrative using pictures, words, word-like clusters, and/or sentences as support” (Michigan Department of Education, 2005). The use of and/or indicates that the students can use any of the previously mentioned methods of expressing a story. In contrast, the Michigan Literacy Progress Profile (MLPP) rubric that we are to use to score students sets that performance expectation much higher. In order to be considered proficient, a student must write two or more details in a logical sequence with a beginning, middle, and end. This seems much more complex than what the Kindergarten GLCE requires. Because the writing rubric has been modified and become more difficult every year since I began teaching, every year I have to expect more out of my students and push them even further. Most students come to Kindergarten with some knowledge of letters and even less knowledge of letter sounds. Over the course of the year, these students have to solidify their understanding of the alphabetic principle and then be able to produce a written piece meeting the expectation. While I believe that high learning expectations are important for students, it is imperative that those expectations be developmentally appropriate.

    “…Researchers speculated that if teachers devoted 30 minutes of instructional time to teach each benchmark (and many would require more than one-half hour to learn), we would need an additional 15,465 hours (or 9 more school years) for students to learn them all!” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 61). The estimated amount of time to cover content is astonishing. I wonder if when they calculated this if they considered additional time lost due to daily procedures (lunch count, attendance, etc), special events (class parties, assemblies, etc.), transitions, and other interruptions (staff members, fire drills, etc.). It is no wonder that it’s a challenge to find time for all of the curriculum. As the only half-day Kindergarten teacher in my district, I face an even greater time challenge. I teach the same content as the other Kindergarten teachers, but have only half the instructional time. I constantly have to evaluate lessons to determine which ones are crucial to fulfilling the GLCEs and end of the year expectations and which ones can be skipped.


    Michigan Department of Education. (2005). Kindergarten English language arts: Grade level content expectations. Retrieved June 26, 2009 from

    Posner, G. J. (2004). Analyzin the curriculum. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

    Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005).
    Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

  41. Kelly Holeman
    EDUC 620
    Curriculum Reflection #3

    One theme I feel is important in the arena of curriculum and targeted learning is grading. Everyone seems to dismiss or downplay grading as a topic of discussion, but it does play a role in the classroom. It seems to be the most important thing to parents at times: How is Johnny doing? What’s his grade? Why does he have a 0 on this assignment? And from administrators: Who is “in trouble?” What is our failure rate? Who is on the honor roll? Who do we give academic awards to? And from the state: What are the MEAP scores? Who “makes” adequate yearly progress (AYP)? How do we punish those districts that don’t progress? I have lamented about how a student that really doesn’t “get it” can earn a passing grade because of a decent work ethic, while the student who truly can speak intelligently about curriculum content fails because she can’t be bothered to complete and submit daily work in class. What am I rewarding? Effort? Ability? Behavior? What’s the answer?

  42. Part Two
    One of my teammates at curriculum camp says she makes her tests 90% of a student’s final grade. Her reasoning is that she wants to make sure kids can individually demonstrate mastery of the curriculum. This makes sense to me, and would certainly reduce cheating as an avenue to a passing grade. Why make students “perform” on worksheets and other daily learning activities if they already know it? I do take this approach with the final exam. Just a few weeks ago, students wanted to know if they should turn in their exam review sheet (since I typically collect and grade EVERYTHING) and I responded with “No, I won’t be collecting the review. If you already know it, why bother completing the worksheet; just concentrate on the items you are unfamiliar with.” I wonder… should I focus more on testing the GLCEs, since that is what my curriculum is based on? Perhaps I am emphasizing the wrong curriculum with my grading, and sending the wrong message??!!?

  43. Part Three
    Chapter Five in the Posner text makes two references to social studies curriculum which I found interesting, being a social studies teacher myself. On page 123, the author suggests that “History curriculum objectives might reflect a version of history that serves the interests of the dominant group.” It seems that at least teachers have become more universal in their teaching of history. No longer do history teachers hold Columbus up to be simply a national hero who “founded” the new world. Teachers often present differing perspectives and try to motivate students to ask questions and examine history from different views. But is it part of the curriculum? I think the curriculum, and especially the standards, (since these two aren’t always the same thing) are slower to respond to the question of hegemony in education.
    The text also illustrates how history textbooks largely ignore the function of religion in major events. As we all know, religion has played, and continues to play, a significant role in historical conflicts, migrations, cultural diffusion, etc. Religion is now a part of the GLCEs. It should be a part of the curriculum. But textbooks, and teachers too, choose to “play it safe” and sidestep the topic (null curriculum), or worse yet, give it their own spin (hidden curriculum). This can be tricky; but student depend on us to educate them and answer their questions. As a teacher, I must continue to teach the curriculum, using the textbook only as a tool, confront controversy objectively, and “stay the course.”

  44. Reflection Paper #3
    Diane Kreh
    Week of June 29-July 3

    Categories of Curriculum

    My mind never really thought about the categories of curriculum until we discussed them in class. These five are the official curriculum, the operational curriculum, the hidden curriculum, the null curriculum, and the extra curriculum (2004 p. 14). What exactly are these, and why are they important for teachers and administrators to consider? This topic of discussion in class made me wonder about the curriculum in the school where I teach. What aspects of these five are involved? Do we even have an official curriculum?

    When our school began 11 years ago it was a Core Knowledge school, developed by E. D. Hirsch, Jr. He was the key note speaker, and I met him at a conference several years ago. His thoughts of “Cultural Literacy” seemed to make sense to me at the time. Yet, our school went through a transitional period in order to meet the state standards and benchmarks and teach the students to apply the knowledge. Core Knowledge did not always seem to align with the standards, so our school improvement teams had to engage in extensive curriculum analysis. We spent countless hours accomplishing this task. Hirsch’s ideas are that the students need to know certain facts to be able to survive in society and make it to the next educational level. He wrote many books, including What Your First Grader Needs to Know, Cultural Literacy, The Schools We Need, and many more. The curriculum was developed to help students be culturally literate. It was more of an information-driven curriculum, while our staff recognized the need for the students to not just learn the information but be able to apply their knowledge.

    This, I believe, was part of our official curriculum, yet the operational was quite different. What we actually taught in the classroom was taken from a wide variety of sources; we didn’t exclusively use Hirsch’s curriculum. As a staff we implemented much of Core Knowledge, yet we also believed that students needed more than just facts fed to them through the curriculum. It is not known how much hidden curriculum was taught because if it was taught, indeed it was “hidden”. Some accused the school of having a hidden agenda, but having first-hand experience, our “agenda” was written in the mission statement for all to see. Last year the mission statement was revisited and revised, but that is a great topic for a future reflection paper. Progressively, our school has drifted further away from the Core Knowledge curriculum, which has caused some controversy with some individuals involved in various positions throughout the school.

    Continuing with the five areas, when the school began there were many gaps or null curriculum. Even though the school was well-organized and functional, it had to go through a process of changes to arrive where it is today. It is exciting to see the changes over my 10 years of service in the school. Today, in addition to sports, we are offering many extra curricular activities, including the two latest implemented programs entitled, The All-Star Academy and June School. Regardless of the curriculum a school uses, change is inevitable and the teachers will strive to satisfy the needs of the students and adapt as needed.

    Posner, George J. (2004). Analyzing the Curriculum. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..

  45. Mandy LaBarre
    Reflection #2

    What are big ideas? As I look through the text, I began to realize how we often talk about big ideas and core concepts but it all seems very vague. Pg. 70 in our Understanding by Design text states, "Thus, a big idea is not just another fact or vague abstraction but a conceptual tool for sharpening thinking, connecting discrepant pieces of knowledge, and equipping learners for transferable applications." I wonder though, how often educators know what the big idea is before they begin teaching a unit.

    For new teachers, like myself, I find that there aren't enough hours in the day to deliver the type of curriculum that focuses on big ideas. Just when I felt like I knew what I was teaching and got to spend a full year colloborating with other teachers in the same grade level as me I was moved grade levels. I taught fourth grade last year and this year I was placed as a Reading Recovery teacher, working with first graders. I feel that in order for teachers to be able to be effective, they should be able to remain teaching the same subjects/grade levels for more than five years ao they become more familiar and comfortable with teaching the big ideas and core concepts.

    So how will I figure out what the big ideas are? Big ideas can be seen in concepts, themes, ongoing debates and points of views, theories, underlying assumptions, recurring questions, and understanding or principle. Figure 3.3 on page 71 breaks the information down into three levels. From least important to most important, there is information 1. worth being familiar with, 2. important to know and do, and 3. big ideas and core tasks. I would use this tool to help map out what I am teaching. This will assist me in identifying those big ideas that I need to focus on.

    Another important part of finding big ideas includes looking carefully at the state standards. Since these are constantly changing, it is the responsibility of the educator to make sure that the curriculum is alligned. Plus, most of the state standards will imply the big ideas.

    The most difficult part of this whole "big idea" theory is we often forget that "the ideas at the core of modern subject areas are typically abstract, not obvious, and often completely counterintuitive, hence prone to mystery and misunderstanding" (pg. 75). Teachers have to constantly remind themselves that once the big ideas appear clear to them, they won't always be so obvious to the students. This is easier said than done! In closing, a quote from Understanding by Design that I found very powerful, "The challenge of designing and teaching for understanding is ironically, therefore; dependent upon once again, seeling like a child..." (pg. 76). What a great reminder for all educators!

  46. Reflection #2
    As I read our textbooks, I am becoming acutely aware that I may not have fully understood what curriculum was when I began teaching 8 years ago. My principal showed me into my classroom, handed me the stack of district benchmarks and off I went, with little guidance from her or my district representatives. I had a fabulous Mentor Teacher who helped me get started. However, from what I can remember, it was only a scratching of the curriculum surface that were given to me, merely lesson plans and activities that were geared towards skill building exercises. “Big Ideas” were not the focus, as I recall. It was a challenge just to cover most of the subject matter in time to take the MEAP Test!
    As I read from Understanding By Design, I am learning techniques for identifying the big ideas, which I feel, will really help me in the future to make the focus of my planning geared towards teaching the big ideas in my lessons. Pg. 73 in UbD, gives great examples of standards and identifying the big ideas in each. I will definitely utilize these tips when lesson planning in the future.
    Honestly, I feel a little overwhelmed when reading the other textbook by Posner since I am not sure yet, what are the important things to highlight for class. It is interesting that there are so many differing points of view as to what approach is the best when designing curriculum and the structural organization of the big ideas. I am hoping that throughout the course I will gain a better understanding of how I can use this information in analyzing and evaluating a real curriculum.
    On page 76, Wiggins and McTighe explain, “Big ideas are abstractions, and the design challenge is to bring those abstractions to life and to make them seem vital.” I think that since big ideas can be difficult to measure in terms of assessment, skills are sometimes taught and evaluated without getting to the heart of the matter. When planning lessons, I think it would be very important to address and explain to the students what big, core ideas that the lesson is addressing. Teachers should revisit the big ideas throughout the unit of study. Sometimes the challenge can be how to narrow down the big ideas so that they are not so vague and abstract to the students and determining how to make all the facts and skills relate to the big picture.
    When looking at the five perspectives on purpose and content in curriculum on page 97 in the Posner book, I am beginning to understand how curriculum is so varied in different districts and across the country. If we are all coming from different perspectives, or approaches about education, of course the curriculum styles and content will vary greatly. I am curious to look at my own school district and see if I can determine what general perspective they seem to be working from as they create and revise the curriculum. I wonder if the teachers or principals could even verbalize it themselves.

  47. Reflections 3
    Kevin Kreitner

    Graduate student reflection log for 6-29-09;
    Coming to you live from the Grand Valley State University Library

    Finding books based on your curriculum. Most of us already have textbooks for your courses but what about literature? I am a part of the states effort to tie other subject’s curriculum into my CTE subject. We have successfully completed the math curriculum portion but we need to find a literature book for our students to read; aiding in their English curriculum. How do you go about selecting a book for this purpose? Are their criteria for selecting a book or is it up to the instructor? The goal is to find a book that can be approved upon by all Machine Tool instructors and acceptable to the language curriculum. Will this book need to be relevant to my subject or is it just something for them to read? I want a book that is easy to read, relates to the subject area, and won’t be like pulling teeth to get the students to read it.

    Understanding other subject areas curriculum is needed in order to make a school more productive. As mentioned above I have had the opportunity to crosswalk my curriculum with other subject areas. Linking areas within curriculum is not as easy as it may seem. Half of the battle is to understanding what the other curriculum is and how it relates to your subject area. When I start reading other subject curriculum it seems to be Greek. Yes, CTE covers a broad range of skills needed to be productive but relating them to another curriculum is tricky. What I see as part of their curriculum may by no means be correct so it is vital to have some form of cross mediation.

    As mentioned last week by others about backwards/reverse curriculum this is the same process I am using to gain academic credit for CTE students. By taking what we already teach and linking it to student’s academic curriculum. In industry we call this reverse engineering. Heck, I do this all the time with my student’s projects. I find a project that will be receptive to the student population and then tie it to the standards I need to teach. Different projects have different criteria/curriculum being achieved. The desired results are the student’s final project. The acceptable evidence are the tasks it takes to achieve the final project. Planned learning is how you go about teaching the student new and different processes, i.e. how to manufacture the part.

    Diane mentioned last week how our budgets reflects our curriculum. Course work is not without its cost. My wife is currently taking a Genetics course and tells me how the instructor keeps suggesting to the class that they can conduct all of these labs in their classes. Yes, his curriculum is more advanced and would be very interesting for students. However he has failed to realize the cost. Curriculum with a limited budgets it is just that a limited curriculum. In these hard economic times we all have to decide on our needs and wants but who is really loosing out? If my budget were to go away so would my program. What would you do with all those students, place them in gym? Is it that we have done so much with so little we now attempt the impossible with nothing? Only together can we achieve the next step towards education.

    Final thought, curriculum is a tool that all parties involved need to understand how it works if we are to achieve what is best for the local population. Just as you need to understand how to use a hammer to pound a nail. If you don’t understand what the curriculum is intended for you will never hammer out any results.

  48. Kristine Harvey
    Reflection III
    Week of 6.29.09- 7.3.09

    This week I have continued my reading assignment in Posner’s Analyzing the Curriculum in chapters 4 and 5. On page 97, Posner (2004) poses the question, “What should be the purpose and content of education?” He goes on to describe five different perspectives that answer that question including a traditional perspective, and experiential perspective, a structure-of-the-discipline perspective, a behaviorist perspective and a constructivist perspective. Upon reflection, I can see that I have (consciously or unconsciously) organized my three different types of classes I teach with three different philosophies in mind.

    Most obvious to me is that my ceramics classes are taught in a behaviorist perspective. Students set out to accomplish a set of skills necessary to make a pot or other form. Certain criteria must be met or else the pot will not successfully make it to the end of the process. This process gets fine-tuned through observation, corrections, and trial and error as mastery progresses. The end product has a chance to be refined and improved throughout the course. Even my grading tends to be on a pass or fail basis for many of the assignments in this class.

    My other high school class that I teach is a general art class which is a very broad class and is offered at different levels, mainly Art I and II. I do have a few students who take it at the third and occasionally the fourth year level. I aspire to have this class be a class that challenges the mind. (Perhaps I am somewhat achieving this goal since the counselor describes this class as a class that anyone can find success; one does not have to come to the class with outstanding drawing skills in order to succeed in this class.) The constructivist approach seeks to make meaning and incorporates thinking, problem solving, and reasoning as ways to study the subject matter (Posner, 2004.) In an art classroom, I see these methods taking shape in the form of brainstorming, making thumbnail sketches, selecting a medium and subject matter and then accomplish the project. My grading recognizes the process of making art as well as recognizing the end result.

    Finally, I have unwittingly organized my 8th grade, twelve week long rotational art class using an experiential approach. Most of the 8th graders in the school take this art class whether they have liked art in the past or not. As quoted in Posner, Dewey says that ordinary life experiences provide the subject matter for the experiential educator (p. 99). Examining one’s own past experience leads the way to further view other situations in different contexts. (Posner, 99.) I have students look at folk art, the art of everyday people in this short class. Students use their own experiences as the subject matter for the projects in this class and find visionary artists’ styles as a way of organizing their own images.

    By reading about these different perspectives, I feel like I have the beginnings of a vocabulary to articulate what I am trying to accomplish. I have always felt like certain students gravitate toward two-dimensional or three-dimensional artwork. Upon this examination I wonder if my statement would be more accurate if I said that I notice my students gravitate towards a more behaviorist, constructivist, or experiential style of teaching and organization of a class. I need to figure out how to accommodate any type of learner in any type of class.


    Posner, G.J. (2004). Analyzing the curriculum. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

  49. All right, I’m finally back from the third world country of Kentucky (no offense intended for those of you from there, or with relatives there). After spending so much time where people say, “we don’t get many tourist’s here”, my perspective on teaching and curriculum has been enlightened. Although it’s become “a global society”, it’s imperative that we understand the regional needs of some areas. I was amazed at a couple things I discovered on my 14 day journey/junket. First of all, there are some very ingenious teachers doing a lot with very little resources at their disposal. I come from a district where the budget for my classroom is more than some of the entire schools budgets in the rural areas of Kentucky I visited. Instead of complaining about the lack of funds/resources available to them, these educators simply make it happen with what they have at their disposal. I can only imagine what would happen if there was a reality show entitled, “teacher swap”. Swap educators from Oakland County with those from Montgomery County. That would separate the educators from the employees really fast. Myself included, educators get too used to depending on resources to teach students; forgetting about creativity and inner resources. You don’t need to have a $75,000 dollar press to teach a student how to print. You don’t need brand new, high tech equipment to teach concepts. We get spoiled sometimes, and get away from true teaching. We get dependent on supplies, and get upset when they get limited. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a while. Seeing what others do with so much less really makes you think.

    With very little else to do, I did a lot of reading from our textbooks (hard even for me to believe, but true). Chapter 4 (six facets of understanding) says, “you only understand it, if you can teach it, use it, prove it, connect it, explain it, defend it, read between the lines”. While that appears true enough, the problem we have as educators is proving to the bean counters that students “understand” it. In graphic arts, how do you prove that a student can run a press? It takes years of practice to be able to run them correctly. Just turning it on, and making paper go from feeder to delivery is easy; add humidity, paper imperfections, ink and water balance, ph issues, etc. that’s what separates a pressman from a press operator. You can’t use a standardized test, because everything changes with each job. Success on ten consecutive jobs doesn’t mean you’ve mastered it. Technically, you can never master it, you just keep getting better at it the more problems you face and solve. Is 80% understanding enough? If you order 1,000 brochures and 800 of them are o.k., is that enough?

    The chapter on questions really got my interest. I use questioning tactics in my class all the time. I keep raising the bar by asking them why, what would happen if, will that work if this variable is changed, etc. Only when we expose students to higher level thinking can true understanding occur. Essential questions, when posed correctly, are never ending. Each answer to a question leads to more questions. The concept can be very frustrating to some students, but is essential to the learning process. Again, the problem comes from measuring understanding. Asking questions with a specific answer are easy to measure; asking good questions that lead to more questions (not necessarily one answer) are much more difficult to show on tests. Which leads to the essential question of, “how can you prove they understand it”. The beaurocratic measure of understanding will rarely coincide with the educators measure of it.

  50. Ref #3

    Are standards the issue? Or is it the assessments and the rating of schools that follows that is the issue? I have been wrestling with this question this last week.

    Many state they are frustrated with the standards. I am thinking, however, that perhaps it is really the assessments and the school ratings that follow that have us upset. There is so much pressure to have our students perform at a certain level in order to get a good AYP, the funding, etc. Perhaps we have to look at the assessment piece and ask some tough questions.

    Do our current assessments fit one learning style better than others? I think we would all say yes. Do our assessments assume that all students can demonstrate their knowledge equally? I think we would say that the creators of the assessments would say yes, but as educators, we would say no. What do these assessments communicate? Do they tell us what a student really knows, or that the student has learned some of the techniques for guessing on "fill-in-the-dot" tests.

    Assessments are an important tool for educators, but I believe we have underestimated the power of assessments. It is not always a positive message, but a negative message that our assessments communicate because they are poorly designed and administrators. Creating a good assessment is a craft. It takes practice. When one is starting out, it is difficult to be good at this craft. This indicates that seasoned educators (those truly invested in the learning process) should mentor newbies. The frustrating thing about that model, is that many of our seasoned educators have become too comfortable in their tenure and have not participated in continuous improvement with their own curriculum; thus, they have very little guidance to offer new educators.

  51. Mandy LaBarre
    Reflection #3

    Chapter 7 in Understanding By Design tackles the topic of thinking like an assessor. The text reminds us that this process does not come naturally to most teachers. We tend to think first of the lessons, activities, and assignments. The backwards design approach that is described in the text requires us to ask ourselves what performances and products we need to teach toward (pg.150).

    There are three questions we have to ask ourselves in order to think like an assessor:
    1. What kinds of evidence do we need to find hallmarks of our goals, including that of understanding?
    2. What specific characteristics in the students responses, products, or performances should we examine to deterine the extent to which the desired results were achieved?
    3. Does the proposed evidence enable us to infer a student's knolwedge, skill, or understanding?

    Question 2 refers to the use of criteria, rubrics, and exemplars. In order to have effective assessments we must use these questions to guide the creation of our assessments.

    I found the continuum of assessments, figure 7.4 on page 152, extremely helpful. It provides a scale of assessments to consider when checking for understanding. It starts with informal checks for understanding on one end and spans through performance tasks. I think often times we forget about informal assessments. These can be done through observation and small group work. I think I need to use more assessments that involve observations and dialogue so that students have various methods of demonstrating their knowledge. We should also consider using students' strengths when designing assessments.

  52. Much of the research about critical thinking that has been completed has focused primarily on adult learners. This raises the question, what about critical thinking for young learners? What techniques are best suited to introduce critical thinking skills to children? What are the benefits of doing so? Logically, I believe that the earlier students are introduced to the basics of critical thinking, the more time they have to become comfortable with them and hone them. Students will require differing amounts of time to be able to readily apply critical thinking skills to different situations in both the classroom and their lives. As with most things, the more exposure and opportunities for practice that students have the better they are able to apply the skills.

    Myers (1986) states that “teaching critical thinking skills involves intentionally created an atmosphere of disequilibrium so that students can change, rework, or reconstruct their thinking (p. 14, as cited in Moon, 2008). Myers further argues that teachers need to assess “…the amount of equilibrium that will do the most good” (p. 15, as cited in Moon, 2008). Some students may not be ready for disorienting situations initially. Many students may have a hard time accepting that their ideas and beliefs they hold are not always correct or accurate. Students must learn to separate themselves from their ideas. They must learn that when ideas are challenged or determined to be incorrect, that it is the ideas that are being critiqued, not the students. Teachers must create just enough of a challenge to the students’ schemas to be uncomfortable, but not enough to create high levels of frustration.

  53. The spiral organization of curriculum provides the foundation for the University of Chicago’s Everyday Math series. Students are exposed to concepts over the course of a few lessons, move onto another topic, and eventually come back to the initial topic and either increase the complexity of the skill or learn a new strategy for solving a specific type of problem. When I first taught using the series, I understood the basic logic behind the organization. The more students are given opportunities to review previously learned material, the more solidified the concepts become to them. However, I had not previously considered this spiral approach to curriculum across grade levels. It is obvious once pointed out, but I did not have much reason to consider it before. There are specific big ideas that students learn for each subject. Each year of schooling students work with the same big ideas with increasing complexity.

    I am a proponent for teaching for understanding rather than for memorization of facts. However, at which point do some skills need to simply be memorized after the foundational understandings are solidified? Students need to understand the phonics behind reading so that they can decode words. Students need to understand what addition and subtraction mean so that their methods for solving problems make sense. Eventually, students need to develop automaticity through memorization of some basic facts. In order to read fluently or to glance at road signs and read them while still focusing on the road, students need to have words stored in their memory banks. In order to add up the total for items in their shopping carts at the grocery store to make sure that they have enough money, students need to be able to use mental math to do computations. Through the results of the DIBELS testing in my district, we are finding many students are not meeting the performance expectation not because they don’t have the knowledge, but because they don’t respond quickly enough. How do you balance learning for meaning and instruction for speed and accuracy?

    Moon, J. (2008). Critical thinking. Routledge: New York, NY.

  54. REFLECTION PAPER 6.29.09-7.5.09 #3
    Dave Demski
    Affective Performance and Teaching
    Ph 1
    While working on a curriculum for a class I teach, some of the material pointed to the need to teach values. This is sometimes more difficult to teach than the content of the class. It can also be more difficult to write performance objectives in the affective domain. In the classes that I teach this could include attitudes about working safety, being prompt and dependable, and being ethical.
    Ph 2
    These characteristics are important for workers in many jobs, including the automotive area. As a teacher I want my students to work safely and employers want the same of their workers. Students are required to wear safety glasses, probably the most important safety item. They will hopefully be required to wear them on the job also and is an OSHA rule. Sometimes the attitudes of my students are not the best in this area. Rather than being just a rule, teaching the attitude about safety and other attitudes should be a part of the curriculum.
    As with any other task that we teach, these tasks also need to have performance objectives for them included in the curriculum. The goal would be for the student to work safely which could be demonstrated by the student wearing safety glasses at all times in the shop area. If the student does practice this procedure, than it was been demonstrated that they have a good attitude about safety. They can be appropriately evaluated in this area as well.
    We can teach attitudes and values in the occupational subjects, just as an art teacher can teach students to have an appreciation for works of art. They should have performance objectives written for them that are an observable behavior, just as a task such as changing a wheel and tire are observable. These behaviors should be evaluated in a way that is fully known by the student and is properly documented. The evaluation should be more than the instructor just lowering the grade of a student because they did not ware safety glasses, were late for class, or did less work than the other students in his group. The performance objectives and the ability to evaluate when these tasks have been completed must be par t of the regular curriculum, not a hidden curriculum.

  55. Michelle Perkins
    Reflection #3 for the week of 6-29-09

    In reading some of the arguments for and against curriculum, I noticed that the pros and cons are close. No one has proven the curriculum 100% useless. Whether you are using a formal or informal curriculum for the students in your classroom, most educators are using some action plan for their students. The written curriculum is usually accepted by the majority and finalized with the board’s approval.
    As I sat in the EDUC 620 class with all types of teachers, instructors and faculty, it was good to hear that some educators still have a written guideline that is to be followed for a stated amount of time but this is also used along with an informal curriculum. Informal or impromptu lessons are the most memorable types of lessons in my opinion. They catch the student off guard and they also let the teacher know who understands the current lesson and who will possibly need additional assistance. The goal is not to make the student feel bad or discourage them from learning, but to encourage them by helping them develop a personalized study plan.
    When I think of a curriculum, I think of an assembly line. Each and every person that a student comes in contact with contributes something to that student’s life. This can be good or it can be a bad thing. Curriculums are put in writing in order to provide teachers with a written guideline that becomes the plan for a stated amount of time. Very rarely are the students given a chance to apply the information to real life scenarios while learning. With assembly, the end product is the same. Education is a human service; each and every person that attends a school, college or university is not interested in studying the same thing, so education will never produce individuals that will think alike, look alike, act alike, and contribute the same skills and talents to a particular career.
    Without the students being present to voice their opinions, administrators and teachers make plans for their lives. The problem comes in when that particular plan does not work for a student or in some cases, the educator. The operational curriculum is a weak area for some teachers; they lack the ability to reach each and every student in their delivery. The teacher is required to creatively teach each and every person in the class even tough, they all learn differently.

  56. Week #3

    Time spent in the classroom is focused primarily on the official and operational curriculum. Teachers cover textbooks, syllabi, course outlines, vocabulary, supplemental materials related to the concept they are teaching. Going back to the first part of "Analyzing the Curriculum" the authors stae that "null curriculum consists of those subject matters not taught...why are these subjects ignored... for example, psychology, dance, law and parenting" Our authors also discuss how these topics are of equivilence to, and can compete with social studies, math, english, science.
    A point that I would like to make is that there are only so many hours in a day, and only so many of those hours can be devoted to learning. It is a fact of human nature that we all need to sleep and eat, socalize and study. Back to my point, we as teachers are limited by time as to what we can teach in the classroom. (see the examination of time in "Analyzing the Curriculum", pg.194) The question has to be asked, "what do we have time to teach and what must be left out?"
    When Students arent in the classroom, they are free, within reason and with regards to their parents, to do what they want. They must make their own decisions. They have control of whether they study, play video games, participate in sports: school-sponsored and on their own, take dance lessons or play in a band. This is all practice of time-management, which if I were the author of this book, I would include time management as competing/comparing with math, english, soc. studies, science.
    In the timeframe of each daay, where does the students home-life play a part in what they learn? What is the parents role? What are they expected to teach their children? If the state comes up with standards for schools, should they also generate standards for parents?

  57. Kelly Holeman
    EDUC 620
    Reflection #4

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but some parts of this text (Posner) can be overwhelming. Sometimes I find myself reading a sentence/paragraph a couple of times and still feeling a bit fuzzy over the meaning of the message. But there are some thought-provoking elements as well.

    I find the discussion of “training vs. educational” context intriguing. This idea is presented in Chapters Four and Five and addresses the purpose and content of curriculum. Starting on page 106, the author addresses behavioral objectives inherent in curriculum. In other words, what is the purpose of a high school education? Are we preparing all students for success in college; or are we preparing students to engage intellectually in the world in a more practical manner?

  58. Kelly-Part Two
    I teach in a district that is economically disadvantaged. Historically, about 30% of our graduates attend college. I know that economic success in today’s economy depends on advanced training and education. We have a high dropout rate; I know that it is VITAL that we in the high school capture those incoming freshmen and do all we can to KEEP them in school. As all these factors swim about in my head, it makes me realize how diverse curriculum really should be. It’s tempting to think of curriculum as simply the standards and benchmarks, or as the acronym-loving world of education would say—the GLCEs. But if our goals are to be met, we must diversify the curriculum in a way that engages dissimilar students, advances the appropriate skills, inspires inquiry and exploration, teaches kids how to function in society, attends to their social and emotional development, and many other things. In short, our charge should be to BOTH prepare students for continuing education/training AND engagement in society. I think HOW we do it depends on the students that walk our hallways. This “curriculum” will be different for me than for teachers in different districts, but the students deserve the same opportunities.

  59. Kelly - Part Three-
    There are a couple of sections in Chapter 6 that hit home for me. In “Learners and Learning” the author places the emphasis on the learner. State-wide standards and tests can’t take into account the nature of the learners. In many disciplines, even curriculum is standardized and distributed in a format that is intended for all learners, regardless of diversity. The book points out that the interests, problems, needs, abilities, previous experiences, preconceptions and developmental levels must be considered. I think this is what separates average teachers from outstanding teachers. You have to really KNOW your kids and know how to hook them on the content. It requires flexibility (and a sense of humor ). I have heard teachers say “I cover that” when perusing standards or curriculum. What does that mean? “I mentioned it, so it’s up to the students whether they “got it” or not??!!” Teaching without learning is not meaningful to students or staff.

  60. Kelly – Part Four-
    “The tasks involved in teaching large groups of youths, against their will, and in crowded conditions, act as a strong influence on curriculum organization” (Posner, page 143). Wow, they’ve been in my school..… sometimes I simply wish that students cared as much about learning as I do… but then I think back to my own high school experience and remember that I felt much the same about school… social, sports, grades.. those were the important elements.. probably in that order. I shudder to think of designing a personal curriculum for every single student (I barely have time to go the bathroom) but I can see that I have developed a personal curriculum for my classes at least. I think that’s what curriculum is all about. You have to take your GLCEs, your school expectations, your students’ backgrounds, and your resources and then construct a curriculum that will enable you to meet your goals (learning for all). It sounds impossibly complicated, but I feel fortunate to have the resources that I do have, including a model curriculum, which is my mainstay, textbooks, computer labs and other technology, supportive administration, etc. I can also see that teaching requires perpetual education in order to stay current and relevant.

  61. Reflection Paper #4
    Diane Kreh
    Week of July 6-10

    My School’s Mission Statement

    Developing students’ lives to positively impact the world through academic excellence and higher moral character.
    Dave’s posting about Mid Michigan’s mission statement prodded me to study our school’s mission statement. In doing so, I found it interesting that it was indeed brief like it should be. It is a statement which brings up many questions in my mind, which according to our class discussion should do so. Mostly I wonder how the school will develop students positively in the two stated areas. What will we do as teachers to carry this out? What do administrators expect from the teaching staff? I know there are plans in the works, so it will be interesting to know how this will look during our next school year.

    This past year the school saw the need to change the mission statement from what it had been since the beginning of the school’s history to what it states above. The process was long and tedious, as it sometimes is. It took a committee of people spending many hours to develop the statement. It was then brought before the teaching staff to review and submit feedback. Then the committee pondered it again before they shared it with the public. It was then publicized for anyone to make comments. At that point it was once again reviewed by the committee and then presented to teaching staff for final adjustments before being voted on by the committee.

  62. One little sentence caused many hours of deliberation. Why is it so important? I think it is important to the school, the community, and any others involved because it is the face of the school. It is why the school even exists. When I search a website, attend a workshop or conference, attend a church, or sometimes even purchase a large item, I look for their mission statement to see if it supports what I feel is important in an organization. Once I read it, then I begin to watch and see if the organization meets that criteria. Whether or not the organization carries it out is another story. If they do not there are normally ramifications.

    This mission statement is broad and allows others to interpret what it means; it is also not prescriptive. Unlike other statements, it does not get specific or measurable. How does one determine academic excellence? Whose definition is excellent? How does one determine higher moral character? Isn’t that open for interpretation? I do believe this statement leaves many questions to be answered; therefore, the writers seem to have accomplished their goal.

  63. Kristine Harvey
    Reflection #4

    Let me first just say that in reading these texts and reflecting on the nuggets of wisdom that make sense to me, I have an overwhelming feeling that I am not cut out for this profession. On the other hand, however, I recently came upon a group of students. We chatted, caught up, and even made a few plans for the next school year. I love that stuff! I take comfort in Dr. Hines’ (paraphrased) words about the world of academia is sometimes a place for those who couldn’t handle student teaching!

    I peeked back into Understanding by Design this week and concentrated on chapter six entitled “Crafting for Understanding.” As a result, I am recognizing shortfalls in my own practice, yet I also see parts of what I do as falling in line with what the authors recommend. I’m encouraged that with some tweaking my teaching could be more purposeful.

    One of these nuggets that I see that could be very helpful for me is by making the distinction between overarching and topical knowledge (p. 130.) The authors state that both are necessary, even when working with the big questions. I can see how my overarching knowledge may be able to carry over from year to year whereas my topical knowledge could adjust to the particular individual students, social climate, or guest artists that are present at that time.

    I can see how my own planning will benefit by designing units based on these overarching questions rather than a particular medium, technique, historical period, or artist. Although I feel like I do group these lessons in a way that points to this understanding, I never clearly pose the big questions to my students before we dive into our study, and I only sometimes have them thoughtfully reflect on what conclusions they can draw from their experiences. I don’t think I have ever asked them to generate questions at the conclusion of a unit. I can see how these big questions can allow more individualized instruction and meaningful work for each learner.

    I have, however, generated some questions of my own here in this reflection. Besides standing in front of the class and posing a big question, how do I state my question so that it is compelling to answer? How do I reinforce that question? I’m also curious about what our authors say about assessing all this understanding that will be taking place in our classrooms. As much as I would love to ignore this part of my job, I have these pesky little progress reports going home each week and peskier parents noting every little mark and comment on them within minutes of their being sent out. I wonder if the authors will give us some tips on how to communicate this broader way of learning to the parents.

  64. Reflections 4
    Kevin Kreitner

    Graduate student reflection log for 7-6-09;

    For the past week I have been pondering the idea of developing a curriculum that creates students to question. What is the difference between asking a question and asking for help? I am constantly being asked for help in my class; when the students confront new operations and “oops” problems. Maybe this is because the subject matter is brand new but even the advanced students run in to situations requiring assistance. Yes, we want our students to explore new avenues by expanding their ideals on what they are learning. But maybe an alternative route in curriculum may be the ability to make students comfortable enough to ask for help without feeling helpless. It doesn’t matter if you are questioning or asking for help because both are engaging students.

    Steve mentioned about mastering a machine versus just being able to operate it. I agree with what he had to say. Students need to be, constantly, pushed to refine and hone their skills on the equipment. I could never teach my students everything they need to know because I haven’t learned everything, and I never will. I let my students in on a little secret if they find someone who thinks they “know it all,” odds are the person knows nothing. So curriculum should get the students able to analyze and trouble shoot and find a means to solve the problem. Isn’t that way more important than trying to master something that they never will? I call these life skills to my students. I know three quarters of them will never step into a manufacturing facility to work, but if they have the skills needed to cope with problems, they can adapt it to anything they peruse.

    What about students who accelerate faster through the curriculum? Traditional courses must try and keep everyone at the same place. But what happens to the extremely fast students, and for that matter, the slower student? I have this situation in my courses just like I know all of you do. Now add to this a mixture of students all at various levels, from brand new, not knowing anything, to the most advanced students. I live this nightmare everyday and every class period, but I am making it work. Each student receives individual personal training while in the lab. However, I have asked veteran traditional teachers on how they would deal with this. They all responded back with the advance are held back and the slow get left behind. It is no wonder we are failing in the school. The schools whole curriculum needs to have something to deal with this problem. Would this fall under assessment or evaluation?

    One person’s “big ideas” might be important to them, but completely irrelevant to another teacher. Who decides what is worth knowing? Yes, we are all given (I hope) some form of curriculum to follow. But, two people may see it in a completely different way. Shouldn’t schools have departmental meetings based on subject area? I am the only teacher in my area at my school, so this new to me. Why does it seem to be that schools systems only meet for their schools (i.e. Middles School, Elementary School, etc.)? My school had a situation a few years ago when the math department from the junior high was covering the same information from the middle school. By time the students reached the high school one whole year was lost. To quote from the movie Cool Hand Luke “what we have here is a failure to communicate”. Curriculum needs to be examined from the top down and the bottom up. If one area is failing the others need to shore it up to make the system stronger. We are all not independent of one another. We must realize each of us needs the other to survive. This makes the school a learning environment with the big idea for all teacher, administration, community, and of course the students.

    Final thought, sometimes questions leads us to the answers we weren’t looking for.

  65. Reflection #3
    As I sit here, I wonder where to begin. The Posner book has left me dizzy and so I have been reading from Understanding by Design lately. The Six facets of understanding have been an interesting section of the reading. It amazes me how detailed and segmented the meaning of one simple word, “understanding” can be. When I think about how my goal in teaching was to help my students understand, I didn’t give much thought to the different levels or specific understanding I was trying to have my students achieve.
    When reading this chapter I have learned valuable questions that I can ask my students in order to assess their “understanding” at different levels. I will be able to know whether students have “the ability to us knowledge effectively” (p. 92) as in application, or if they are only able to explain facts. I will be able to better assess whether my students are able to interpret knowledge into something meaningful so that they can transfer that knowledge in other areas.
    As Wiggins and McTighe explain on page 84, We truly understand when we:
    • Can explain
    • Can interpret
    • Can apply
    • Have perspective
    • Can empathize
    • Have self-knowledge
    I will take these facets into account, when I am evaluating my students. I will incorporate these into my assessments and planning so that I will know that my students will have developed a full understanding of that particular “big Idea.”

  66. Reflection #4

    Taking the time to create and write curriculum that will never be properly used makes no sense to me. Educators, teachers and students are complaining about the current curriculums; students are unable to meet AYP (adequate yearly progress) regularly; the creativity in the students and the teachers are limited; and the administrators are making changes and decisions without understanding the effects their decisions have on our children. The current curriculums are supposed to prepare students for a successful future and provide them with the skills and knowledge to survive in this world. The ideal curriculum would be flexible and would allow the teachers to bond with the student.
    Consistency, communication, and cooperation should definitely be a part of the proposed curriculum solutions. There needs to be some consistency between the school districts, the schools, and the states. Some parts of the curriculum should be standard in all states and the states should communicate with one another regularly. Parents, students, teachers, and administrators must take part in curriculum planning to ensure that everyone is represented equally.
    The current goal of most of today’s curriculum is to make students efficient in math, reading, and in science by a stated year. How can the federal government impose curriculums that have deadlines and accountability when today’s students move and change schools constantly? Within a stated amount of time, schools can loose a large number of students as well as receive new ones. With all of the changes in students, it can be difficult to collect accurate data to study.
    In my opinion, our current curriculum issues started at the federal level. Whenever budget cuts are made they usually start at the top and education is almost always at the top of the list for cuts. With the government consistently reducing education’s budget jobs within schools and their districts are eliminated, textbooks and equipment are rarely replaced, and the number of extra-curricular activities for the students is reduced. Maybe we should site our government for not properly following through. The current curriculum problems started at the federal level and have been passed down to the states to deal with.

  67. Reflection #4
    In Understanding by Design, a passage struck me as one that I might model my own teaching after. On page 103 the authors state, “Students come to believe that their job is to memorize the understandings for later recall, as if they were mere facts. Put differently, if understanding is the goal of our teaching, we have to aggressively root out this misunderstanding about learning and help students see that they will often be expected to do more than take in knowledge—namely, make meaning out of something problematic and not obvious.”

    If students know what is expected of them and my focus and goal for educating them, I think they will be able to transfer their knowledge and make the concepts and ideas we learn about applicable to their lives.
    As I continued reading I was asking myself, how will I know if my students understand? How can I assess and evaluate which stages or facets of understanding each student has achieved? Then I came to Chapter 5: Essential Question, I got some answers to my own question. The authors suggest that, “Instead of thinking of content as stuff to be covered, consider knowledge and skill as the means of addressing questions central to understanding key issues in your subject.” (p. 107)

    I think that sometimes teachers are afraid to ask more in-depth essential questions because often there is no concrete answer. It may be scary to teachers not to be able to give the “correct” answer to every question posed. I have always encouraged my students to answer engaging questions, ones that probe into their minds and really make them think beyond the surface facts. I liked how the text described essential questions as being “alive.” (p 108) These questions can be debated and will sometimes never be resolved and that is okay since we all have varying perspectives and previous experiences in the world.

  68. Interesting, Lisa! I was looking at the same chapter this past week and thought it was worth reading.

  69. REFLECTION PAPER 7.6.09 -7.12.09 #4
    Dave Demski
    The Tapering of Education

    Was it perhaps with the releasing of the report called “A Nation at Risk”, in the early 1980s, when we started to taper the focus of education in this country? Posner mentions this report in his book which brought back memories of this time. Newspapers devoted entire sections to its content as it was obviously an influential document and is still commonly referred to.
    At the time I was a fairly new high school automotive mechanics teacher at Green River High School in Green River, Wyoming. Sweetwater County School District # 2 decided to devote a committee to study this report and provide its findings to the community. This seemed to be similar to Posner’s process of studying a curriculum. Posner (2005) even states that the report “was like a new curriculum” (Posner, 2005, p. 39). I was a member of this committee and a subcommittee that studied one section of the report.
    One of the steps of our study was to get some information from one of the members of the National Commission on Excellence in Education (NCEE), which framed the report. Our committee wanted to know something about the “story behind a curriculum” (Posner, 2005, p. 34), in this case the report itself. Again, this is similar to one of the ways that Posner looks at a curriculum critically. The school district paid to have one of the members come to the school and discuss the report with our committee.
    If I remember correctly, we invited Anne Campbell, former Nebraska Commissioner of Education, as our guest. The one thing I remember asking her about has vocational education because the report seemed to want a curriculum that favored academics. The report does mention the importance of vocational education and she reported that is was not the intention of her committee to eliminate vocational education. However, with its emphasis on academics, did curriculum’s become narrower? As Posner (2005) stated “The new millennium continues this narrowing of aims with the renewed emphasis on standards and standardized testing.” (Posner, 2005, p. 76)

    Posner, G. P. (2005). Analyzing the curriculum: (3rd ed.)
    Boston: McGraw-Hill.

  70. Bethany Good
    Reflection 4--July 6-12

    Under NCLB, schools are held accountable for student performance. This accountability is assessed nearly exclusively through the use of standardized tests. This has had a large influence on the type of teaching that occurs in the classroom. Wagner (2008) observed several hundred classrooms and observed “…fewer than 1 in 20 were engaged in instruction designed to teach students to think instead of merely drilling for the test.” Teaching to the test is not adequately preparing students for the workplace. Employers are not concerned about the academic skills that their employees have, but rather their ability to think critically about situations, to ask questions, to problem solve, and to develop creative solutions (Wagner, 2008). With so much pressure put on schools and teachers to reach high levels of student proficiency on these tests, how should district and school administrators address the issue of teaching to the test? Many teachers may fear that by teaching to the test they will appear as stronger teachers because of their test scores, but they are doing a disservice to the students.

    In an attempt to reflect the importance of critical thinking, many standardized tests now include tasks that require higher level thinking such as essays and constructed responses (Torff & Warburton, 2005). However, many teachers have learned how to teach how to respond to these questions. They know strands that are likely to be covered in these types of questions and the scoring criteria. They give students multiple exposure to the content commonly used in essay questions and teach them key facets that should be included in their responses to score well (Noddings, 2004). As long as high stakes standardized tests are used, teachers will find ways to teach to the test. Education incorporates far more than simply responding in an specified manner on tests. What other methods of assessment can be used to hold schools accountable for student learning? How feasible is it to create an assessment for all students in a state to complete that allows students to respond to material in a critical manner?

  71. “Most curricula and programs neither teach the skills and dispositions necessary for effective action, nor encourage students to try out their understandings, analyses, and solutions in any real way” (Young, 1980, as cited in Moon, 2008). Because it is a skill that is helpful for future success in higher education and the workforce, shouldn’t it receive more attention in curricula? Without a curriculum to guide them, do teachers know the most effective ways to incorporate critical thinking into classrooms? In order to ensure that students receive the necessary exposure, districts need to offer training and support to staff members so that they can successfully incorporate these skills in a multitude of ways in their classrooms, but I don't think that this is a reality in many districts. Is it because we are so preoccupied with improving test scores that the benefits of critical thinking activities that could improve academic perforance and future success are pushed to the wayside?

    “A curriculum is not implemented until a teacher uses it to teach students; that is, implementation must take the realities of teaching into consideration” (Posner, 2004). Even the best curriculum must be modified to accommodate the other responsibilities that teachers have. Teachers often do not have the time to include all of the lessons in the curriculum along with other things that take away from instructional time. While important, assessing takes a great deal of instructional time away from students at the Kindergarten level because nearly all of the assessments must be done one on one. Certainly lessons that address core objectives of the grade level must be taught, but others may be excluded. Should teachers be in agreement on which lessons to skip or give less attention to, or should teachers be free to use their academic freedom to make this decision?


    Moon, J. (2008). Critical thinking. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Noddings, N. (2004). High stakes testing: Why? Theory and Research in Education. Retrieved July 8, 2009 from Sage.

    Posner, G. J. (2004). Analyzing the curriculum. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

    Torff, B. & Warburton, E. C. (2005, February). Assessment of teachers’ beliefs about classroom use of critical-thinking activities. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 65(1). Retrieved July 8, 2009 from Sage.

    Wagner, T. (2008). Rigor redefined. Educational Leadership, 66(2). Retrieved July 6, 2009 from Wilson Select Plus.

  72. At first glance, the title to the chapter “thinking like an assessor” frightened me. Who wants to think like an assessor? In the beginning, the author states, “we are obligated to consider the assessment evidence implied by the outcome sought, rather than thinking about assessment primarily as a means for generating grades.” Talk about stating the obvious. Too often, teachers only use tests to show grades, not to actually measure understanding. Getting an A on a test doesn’t necessarily mean the student understands the information; they may just be regurgitating what was presented to them. It may look good when the class average on a test is 80%, but if there isn’t true understanding what good does the grade do? The book lists a few examples of how teachers misinterpret how to achieve the curriculum goals. That happens all the time. As educators, we are sometimes given too much “academic freedom” on curriculum delivery. Don’t get me wrong, academic freedom can be a very good thing in the right hands. Unfortunately, the wrong hands get it also. Letting each teacher interpret how to deliver the same curriculum can produce drastically different results on tests, and in understanding. The three basic questions the book says an assessor must ask were very good. You need to know what kind of evidence you need, what you should examine, and will the evidence show true understanding. It sure sounds easy when you read it! Putting it into practical use is a whole other thing.

    The book talks a lot about getting teachers out of their traditional thinking, and forcing them to think like assessors. As they repeatedly state, this is not an easy task, and may be close to impossible for some teachers. Sometimes teachers get too entrenched in the exercises, as opposed to the result of the exercises. Even the best of intentions don’t ensure that students will actually gain understanding. The GRASPS concept they discuss will certainly help to ensure that understanding is achieved. When you have a framework such as that to follow, it “forces” you to design performance tasks that will result in being able to assess understanding. That being said, it takes a lot more work to develop tasks using a system like the GRASPS one. Now we get back to the problem of getting teachers to do it.

    When determining authentic performance, I sincerely believe vocational teachers have a distinct advantage over traditional teachers. Vocational teachers are used to having students actually perform tasks to show understanding. Traditional teachers frequently rely on written tests; which may, or may not, prove actual understanding. Performing tasks under a variety of situations will almost always show whether or not students actually understand the material. In my particular situation, each task is different. It’s relatively easy to determine understanding. If students complete a series of tasks under different conditions, it proves they actually understand how to operate that particular piece of equipment; and that knowledge is embedded in them. Anybody can cram for an exam and get a good grade, but that isn’t true knowledge. They’ll forget most of that after a very short time. Repeatedly using and demonstrating the knowledge acquired is where the vocational teacher has a distinct advantage.

    The criteria utilized to evaluate tasks in a vocational setting can be very unique. A lot of times, industry standards are the only mechanism used by the instructor to evaluate the task. That means the entire process relies on the expertise of one person, which can lead to a whole new set of problems. Unlike black and white assessments, a lot of what we evaluate as vocational instructors is subject to interpretation.

  73. Kristine Harvey
    Reflection #5
    July 13 – 17

    I want to share a story here about thinking, learning and recent high school graduates. My husband is a cook at a camp. His job is to serve approximately 270 people three meals a day at 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. all summer long. He has a staff of about a dozen college-aged students helping him do this task. These are pretty top-notch students. Some are pre-med students, engineering students, biology majors, music performance majors, and education students. The other day he had a pancake breakdown. I’ll paraphrase the situation.
    “Hey staff, this week we have about 50 more guests than last week. You’ll need to make 700 pancakes tomorrow morning.”
    The next morning, he gets to work as the pancake making is in progress.
    “Hey staff, I see you have left over pancake batter. Do you need me to cook up the rest of these pancakes?”
    “Nope, boss. We have them all taken care of. Seven hundred pancakes are ready to go.”
    He opens the pan of pancakes to take a peek. Yup. There were 700 pancakes, all about an inch and a half in diameter.
    A short time later, the kitchen ran out of pancakes for the dining room.
    The next day the entire kitchen staff had a refresher chat about the big picture. Things are running much more smoothly these days.

    An effective way of learning and living requires a constant zooming in for a close up focus on specific knowledge and tasks and a zooming out to see the big picture and the context in which the specific knowledge resides. I think we all find ourselves bogged down from time to time (usually in February or March) with tasks and details in our classrooms and lives only to have some tragedy shake us out of our funk and put our petty concerns into perspective. Likewise, there are probably a few of us who can remember enjoying life and our classrooms only to wake up one day and realize that bills are overdue and no grades have been entered into the grade book.

    It is easy for me to zoom in on and get bogged down by the tiny tasks and day-to-day operations of my classrooms. It’s easy for me to lose sight of the big picture. I know that I am much more confident about asking reflective and big picture questions in my ceramics class than in my regular art classes. I have a clear understanding of ceramic’s place in life and how it can fit into students’ lives. (Of course, this idea can change as I see ceramics affect students.) On the other hand, I have never really articulated the big picture for the general art classes in my head. Just because I haven’t figured it out, though, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t ask those big questions to my students. Or……. perhaps if I keep thinking about this, I will end up discarding about 50 percent of my current lessons and opt for more relevant assignments.


  74. This comment has been removed by the author.

  75. Reflection Paper #5
    Diane Kreh
    Week of July 13-17

    One of the discussions we had in class was about knowledge vs. understanding. We currently live in an information age where facts are everywhere you look, from books to televisions, radio, Internet, and more. How do students weed through the information given and be able to apply it to their daily lives, and how do they apply it? In the book Understanding by Design there is a chapter called, “Teaching for Understanding”. On p. 227 the quote by Charles Gragg states, “Teachers…are particularly beset by the temptation to tell what they know….Yet no amount of information, whether of theory or fact, in itself improves insight and judgment or increases ability to act wisely.”

    Active inquiry is vital to student learning and understanding. Students need to be asking questions about what they are reading or studying and find answers to their questions by researching, using the “hands on” approach, or by interacting with classmates or the community. Simply listening to the teacher and reading a text book to spit back the facts lack in true understanding. Learning facts is also an important part of the educational process, but it can’t be the only component.

  76. An example is that a medical professional can know all the terms, prefixes, suffixes, root words, and tell you all about what the medical terms mean, however, they must be able to work practically with patients in determining the conditions and carrying out proper diagnoses for treatments. I believe it is the same with our students. They must be given the chance to take the information they are storing and use it in a practical way to ensure they will retain it and effectively use it. Using the information immediately will help students retain what they are learning.

    As also discussed in the chapter, coverage and uncoverage are two different facets to education. Coverage can be defined in a variety of ways, but the bottom line is that it simply is based on reading and telling. Whereas, uncoverage is based on learning with a purpose, to uncover questions, to support learning goals in an authentic manner, and to give opportunity for the students to use tools like concept maps, index cards for summarizing, one-minute essays, question boxes, oral questioning, and analogies. I especially enjoyed the mentioned chapter because it gave me good insights and ideas to use in my classroom.

    Gragg, C. (1940, October 19). Because wisdom can’t be told. Harvard Alumni Bulletin.

    Wiggins , Grant & Jay McTighe (2006). Understanding by Design. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Education, Inc.

  77. First.. I would like to comment on a couple of the reflections.... Michelle... I skimmed an article today in the T.C. Record-Eagle about how President Obama plans to support community colleges.... good news re: education. I think community colleges often are underrated and overlooked, and they're a great (affordable) way to begin your post HS training/education.
    Kevin-- I feel your pain re: differences in ability/speed in mastering concepts/tasks/etc. I had a super challenging class this year with spec. ed. low readers, low motivation students, a few seniors, and a few overachievers. I had to constantly be creative in engaging ALL. A couple of things I did.... have students that have mastered material lead a class. This works well with something we do called Read/Discuss/Write which covers topics in the news, etc.... also I have some students discuss challenging vocabulary for the next "section" while others are finishing current work (they spend time researching the words while others are catching up, and then teach the words/concepts to the rest of the class)... design a word wall for vocabulary that all can eventually contribute to.... just a few ideas....I'm always looking for more. Kelly

  78. In Chapter 7, three different perspectives of curriculum organization are examined. After reading about all three, I can say that the social studies curriculum in my school appears to be top-down. The GLCEs for social studies at the high school seem to be organized around fundamental concepts, themes, and principles, and then our lessons support those concepts. For example, content expectation USHG F1.1 (U.S. History & Geography Foundations 1.1) reads: Identify the core ideals of American society as reflected in the documents below and analyze the ways that American society moved toward and/or away from its core ideals----Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and so on. This abstract content expectation is both challenging (how do you measure it?) and liberating (multiple ways to capture understanding).Many of my GLCEs are centered on the “big ideas” of freedom and democracy. While this top-down approach appears to be vague at first glance, in certain situations it can lead to personal inquiry and understanding. Also, these big ideas about liberalism and history have many real-life applications. Those are the ones I relish; the opportunity to make the learning relevant and teach the students that history is so much more than places and dates… which leads to the “Project Approach.”

  79. In the Project Approach, I finally found an approach that I could connect to. John Dewey emphasized two main ‘strands’ within his educational movement: a new concern for children’s interests and development and a belief in the power of education to improve society. This really hits home for me. In the school I teach in, most students come from an economically challenged home. For many students, education is not valued; the students often adopt that value and belief system. Also, most of our students don’t go on to college. We struggle daily to KEEP the kids in school and also SEND them to college. Next, as a social studies teacher, I embrace the responsibility of preparing student to be effective citizens. That’s why I like those two themes of engagement and society.
    On page 186, the author describes the two main reasons that kids drop out of school. The first is that students feel alienated from the school system and don’t feel school is for them. This is where family support is critical. If parents don’t feel school is important it is a battle to engage the student and pass on the love of learning. Too many students feel defeated before they even arrive in high school. As my counselor has decried before, “it’s hard to compete with sex and drugs.” It is crucial that all students feel like they belong in the school. Using various projects that are meaningful to all students is a step in the right direction.
    The second reason given is that school does not “engage” learners. I have seen myself where students with little academic success embrace “projects.” I had a girl this year in my history class that reads at an elementary level, and performs poorly (naturally) on standardized tests, who really had a chance to shine when she tackled a Windows Moviemaker project. We introduced “clicker” tests this year, and students with low reading abilities finally had a chance to experience success. It was amazing what engaging the students did. It sounds simple, but it worked. I still assessed the standards as part of the curriculum.
    As the author reminds us, project-centered curricula lends itself to cooperative learning as well, as students with different abilities use teamwork and problem-solving skills to complete their projects. Democracy in action!

  80. Thanks for the information Kelly, that’s a good thing! I’m impressed with all of the programs offered at community colleges. They have high school programs, adult education, career and technical education, they are satellite locations for universities and colleges and you can work a good job on campus and take classes while they watch your children.

  81. Reflection for the week of 7/13/09

    As I read through the various definitions of curriculum, I keep thinking that it is a tool that was designed to assist educators in their scheduling, organization, and student tracking not control the entire lesson plan. Curriculum is a plan that was developed to address inconsistencies between the states and to track student progress. Educators are responsible for communicating the lessons to the student and their individual progress is measured with tests. It seems as if today’s curriculum controls education. Curriculum deals more with statistics, learning patterns in the students, and federal and state imposed regulations.
    I am questioning the accountability portion of the curriculum. How can you hold another individual responsible for the actions of another? There are achievement gaps that still exist among certain groups and this gap is steadily increasing. Students that need the most assistance in their education are the ones getting left behind because of their inability to speak the language, poor social status, and for a number of other reasons.
    Curriculum development and implementation costs billions of dollars and takes a ton of man hours to plan. Educational plans include programs that are supposed to improve student achievement, but Michigan is still behind other states and the United States is lagging behind other countries. Curriculum was established to resolve some of education’s issues and it has, but it still remains to be a controversial issue in education. It’s almost like politics and religion, no one wants to discuss curriculum because of the tension it creates.
    If you take some of the words used to describe curriculum such as expectations, accountability, plan, tool, resource, etc…. and ask different individuals to define each word in their own words, you’ll get something different. Our class definitions of curriculum defined the word many different ways, but we were all trying to define the same word. Our class outcome is similar to curriculum, everyone is asked to do the same thing, but the outcomes vary and this should be okay.

  82. Reflections 5
    Kevin Kreitner

    Graduate student reflection log for 7-13-09;

    Michelle mentioned last week about students moving from state to state or school district to school district and how this must affect students and the curriculum. The area I am from has a heavily populated migrant labor base. I, constantly, have students coming and going and trying to make it all work is a chore. Yes, Michelle is right students do get left behind but it has to be more than just a curriculum. The teachers need to care. This past year a student of mine went to Texas and took welding for the second time. When I asked what they taught her she told me all she did was sit and did nothing, again. I was astonished. Even though she was only going to be there for two to three months they should have taught her something. But who is to police this matter? We can have all the curriculum and state standards, but if no one is checking up on the situation then I am afraid to say it but that child was left behind.

    The reverse development process form our curriculum has me thinking again. For the last couple of weeks I have been analyzing CTE curriculum that the state has online for my subject area. They have taken all of the areas I should be teaching and condensed them into sections. One thing I have noticed is a lot of the areas in the sections overlap one another. So does that mean I have to cover that information every time it comes up? Who has the right to decide what is right and wrong? With curriculum it all comes down to who the interpreter is and I feel for anyone teaching the final decision comes from the teacher.

    Now changing gears from the above thought that the teacher gets the final say on their curriculum. In CTE we have to have advisory committees to make sure we are covering what is needed by the local area. This is a lot like including outsiders (non-educators) to help nurture a better learning environment. As we discussed in class you need the community (area businesses), the school (teachers), and a final product (students or workforce). All three of these are represented in the meetings with each having equal say. By, constantly, adjusting to the needs of the area, curriculum is always adjusted to better suit the community. However it is still up to the educator to implement what they feel is the most important by the groups impute, thus incorporating it into the courses always changing curriculum.

    Freedom, isn’t that the reason why most of us became educators? Another area of concern concerning curriculum content is when is enough, enough? Who has the right to say you have covered the given area to its fullest? Are we to just skim over the required material and then get to the hidden/null curriculum? What about if the states areas don’t match the needs of the communities? Who wins? Ha! This course is making me second guess every duty and task the nation, state, and local community wants me to cover.

    There is a grading criteria used on a computer program that my county has us use to track the students performance. A 1 means you covered it. A 2 means the student can accomplish with help. A 3 means the student can accomplish task without help. And a 4 means the student can teach the area. I have been told countless times all you need is to get the students to a 2 but to me that is the bare minimum. To me a 2 isn’t getting the student to that conceptual knowledge stage. Do you cover as many points as you can at a level 2 to cover all areas? Or do you pick from the curriculum and strive for the 3 and 4’s? So who is right, and when is enough, enough? Unlike the general education population (state testing) the only gauge we have to see if students are meeting the criteria in the curriculum is by what the teacher claims the student has accomplish. Are ethics more about curriculum than I thought?

    Final thought, curriculum is more like guidelines rather than set in stone rules the educators must follow.

  83. Reflection #4:

    I find the planning process to be very exciting and helpful. I like taking the big ideas and narrowing it down to expectations, essential questions, content, assessments, and resources required. In following a consistent planning process, I make my job easier, less stressful, and, most importantly, the students receive the best from me that is possible. Why then do so many instructors squak at the planning process? In my limited tenure, I have found the same human patterns that I found in corporate world: people don't want to work. They want easy money. Unfortunately, many established teachers entered into the profession because it was perceived as an easy, rewarding career. With the new emphasis on accountability, easy is not longer an adjective to describe this job role. The question is: should it have ever been an adjective used to describe this job?

    The segments provided me through the web site help me tremendously. I find that the content standards help narrow the focus on what should be taught in such an immense field as IT. Where some instructors find the segments stiflying, I find them liberating. I am able to be creative in the classroom because I no longer have to spend time determining what should be taught.

    Accountability in our field is way overdue. The emphasis on standards and measuring the outcomes is healthy. How we measure and what we do with the outcomes is more the issue in my mind. It is a challenge to determine How to measure outcomes when dealing with masses while ensuring consistency in the measurement. My concern is that we throw the baby out with the water ...meaning, we throw the whole process out because we are dissatisfied with a portion of it.

    The idea that curriculum is more than the content, resources, assessments, etc., but includes policies, culture, etc., is enlightening to me. I have historically had a limiting view of what curriculum is.

  84. Mandy LaBarre
    Reflection 4

    The Understanding by Design text has so many great ideas to start changing the way I look at curriculum and the way it is delivered. It inspires me to makes changes as it gets closer to the next school year. I really liked the description on page 195 of "The best designs: Engaging and Effective." It answers the question of - what do you mean by good planning for learning?

    The text desrcibes engaging learning as a design that diverse learners find though provoking, fascinating, and engergizing (pg. 195). I started to really think about the meaning of a diverse learner and could relate it to my own teaching. The students are forced to be engaged because of the demands. That requires the teacher to reflect upon his/her expectations of the class. "The goal is to affect them on many levels; it must not be dry academic content, but interesting and relevant work, intellectually compelling and meaningful" (pg. 195). What an awesome description of what our teaching should be!! After reading this, I am now looking at my career in a whole new light.

    Effetive learning means that students peform to high standards and exceed expectations. The other piece of this is self-reflection. I self-reflect on my own teaching on a daily basis. But how often do the students get a chance to self-reflect on what they are learning and if they are actually learning? One of my classmates explained an exercise she does with her students throughout the school year. She asks the students HOW do they know they've learned what has been taught and how can they demonstrate their learning or understanding. I liked this approach. If you have effective learning, then the students should be able to use their strengths to illustrate to you their understanding.

    I started to think about what my teaching would look like if it was engaging and effective. I visualize it as hands on, colloboration, individual and group work. The students would be provided opportunities to apply what they've learned to real-world situations. I also think there needs to be a feeling of commuinty and ownership in order for the students to feel comfortable sharing and learning. Hopefully I will be able to share some of these ideas with my colleagues and they will be open to change.

  85. Mandy LaBarre
    Reflection 5

    I really enjoyed the video on curriculum mapping by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. The analogy of comparing student recrods to that of your medical records was really helpful for me to understand the importance of proper curriculum mapping. Documentation is so important and being pro-active. It helps you to determine the next steps.

    The discussion on testing was also very interesting to me. My district, like many others, is becoming extremely data driven. The students are becoming numbers and scores instead of people. Heidi described the poor job we are doing when it comes to testing. She mentioned going backwards to see where the gaps are and asking questions.

    Going into my third year of teaching, I still don't feel 100% comfortable asking lots of questions. So many teachers and adminstrators are happy keeping things the way they are, even though we aren't making progress - so why not ask questions?! Because change seems to be something that scares educators!! Even when there is credible research that back ups the change, it is rejected by many.

    The video mentioned that our goal is to improve the journey for those who follow. In order to do that, teachers need to have the time to analyze the curriculum and look at it with a backwards design. Until we start doing that, we are stuck. If we started working with each, instead of against each other then we might start making progress. Most importantly - we should start taking into consideration why we all have jobs - the students!!

  86. REFLECTION PAPER 7.13.09 -7.19.09 #5
    Dave Demski
    Task Lists
    The task lists for each of the automotive areas, some of which I teach, are developed by a non-profit called the National Automotive Technician Education Foundation (NATEF) The lists are revised every few years and are created by experts in the field, including automotive technicians. The tasks are typically the kind of servicing, diagnosing, testing, inspecting, maintaining, and identifying, automotive technicians will have to perform.
    These tasks are not difficult to teach and have the students perform, but there are a lot of them. They are also given a priority rating, one, two or three. This means that 95% of the P1 tasks must be covered, 85% of the P2, and 50% of the P3. After doing some of the reading, and the discussions in class this weekend, I think this misses something important in the training.
    They may be able to do some of the tasks that a technician can do, but are they getting trained how to work as a technician? Perhaps teaching the tasks and related theory is similar to teaching to the test in the K-12 general education program. It feels like something is missing in both. They cannot make the connections that help them become independent thinkers and learners. The students learn the facts, or perform the tasks, as directed by the instructor.
    Starting last week I stepped out of my role as an instructor and back into the role of an automotive technician, as I began an internship. The regular technicians in this shop are very efficient, which means they can produce more hours of work than the actual number of hours they work. They must decide for themselves what tests or other steps are necessary to complete their tasks. My students also need training in this efficiency. Not just as a technician but like all students, how to be an efficient, independent thinker and learner.

  87. Bethany Good
    EDUC 620
    Reflection 5—July 13-19

    Standardized test creators are attempting to incorporate more items that require students to use critical thinking skills such as essays and constructed responses (Torff & Warburton, 2005). However, teachers use even these types of questions to teach to the test by focusing on content that is likely to be included on the test and teaching students how to format their responses according to the grading criteria (Noddings, 2004). As I worked with a student this week, I found myself tempted to do this same thing. I wanted to tell the student that when she wrote a response for a specific topic that she needed to make sure to do x, y, and z. However, I stopped myself before doing so. Had I attempted to have her write according to the recipe that would most likely yield a proficient score on a standardized assessment, I fear that the voice and creative approach to the topic that she used would have been suffocated. Does repeated exposure to formatting a written response to that which is sought on standardized tests diminish the creativity and voice that students use in writing for other purposes?

    While I have heard other teachers talk about curriculum maps, I never really understood what they were. After learning about how they can help make sure that a program addresses the state standards, I am shocked that the documents do not exist within my district. Teachers have not been asked to complete them, nor am I aware of any curriculum maps created by others. My district is typically held in high regard because of its academic program; yet, this facet of curriculum is not being utilized. I wonder if the academic programs could be more effective if mapped to evaluate the coverage of standards.

    The results of recent standardized assessments indicate that there is a potential problem with our core curriculum. The conclusion that most have come to about this is that the core program is not being implemented with fidelity. However, I feel that it is difficult to make that determination since the district lacks a document that links the content included in the core program with the standards. Without this, it is impossible to determine if the curriculum adequately addresses the skills and concepts that the students are lacking. Instead of simply assuming that teachers are not implementing the core program with fidelity, an analysis of the core program is needed.

    I am lovingly referred to as a “data diva” at my school because I enjoy examining data. After seeing the Excel spreadsheet that Dr. Hines used to outline all of the standards and where they are covered within the teacher education program, I was motivated to do something similar. After class on Saturday, I put all of the standards into a spreadsheet. My goal is to use this in the upcoming school year to analyze the lessons and classroom activities that I use over the course of a year to ensure that gaps do not exist. I hope to use the document and data to not only evaluate and better myself as a teacher, but also to share with my colleagues within our professional learning community.


    Noddings, N. (2004). High stakes testing: Why? Theory and Research in Education. Retrieved July 8, 2009 from Sage.

    Torff, B. & Warburton, E. C. (2005, February). Assessment of teachers’ beliefs about classroom use of critical-thinking activities. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 65(1). Retrieved July 8, 2009 from Sage.

  88. Kristine Harvey
    Reflection #6
    July 21, 2009

    Well, I’m becoming a believer.

    On the first day of class Professor Hines had us all write down some questions we had about curriculum or curriculum design and evaluation. My skeptical side thought this was maybe just a gimmick or a hook to get us more involved in the class. I’m not sure if my initial questions have been answered yet, nor do I even remember what my initial questions were. However, Dr. Hines cultivated this response of asking more questions. I can see in your blogs that many of you end your reflections with more questions, too. Deep in my subconscious, a list of questions seems like an unlikely conclusion to a summary. However, I am seeing that the questions lead me deeper into an inquiry and answers almost magically.

    At first these weekly postings felt to me a little like posting a finished artwork on a wall for all to see. I felt like the piece had to have some sort of merit all on its own and look good to others as well as feeling purposeful to myself. I am discovering that these reflections serve a purpose that may not look very substantial to anyone but the person writing the piece. I have been surprised to come upon some aha moments in class or in my reading. I am surprised that the answers feel so satisfying that I feel a little shot of energy passing through me. I am surprised and satisfied that I am actually comprehending the material! I don’t believe that I would be making these connections in my head without having gone through the motions of thinking, choosing words, and writing down these questions either on the cards in class or in these reflective essays.

    I have surprised myself in diving into a grey area of my curriculum in one particular class. I have been tiptoeing around that curriculum for years. With our curriculum mapping assignment that we started on in class on Sunday, I jumped right into this particular field of grey and started writing down essential questions quickly. Standards and benchmarks fit into the slots as easily as those last pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. A particular assignment that I know I spend too much time on, but really don’t want to give up, suddenly shifted into a different position, serving a different role in my curriculum. Looking back on my last reflection, I ended that piece wondering if what my essential questions were for my general art classes and wondering if I needed to replace some of the projects in that class.

    I think many of us still have this notion of our teacher or professor as being the ultimate judge of our performance. I love how Dr. Hines just doesn’t go there. Instead, she keeps pointing us down this road of discovery that happens when we think, gather input, ask questions, and think again. How can I make sure I do that for my students?

  89. Reflection Paper #5
    Diane Kreh
    Week of July 20-24

    In the past I had been presented with the whole idea of curricular and unit mapping. It was quite a negative experience because it was presented quickly, and we only skimmed the surface. We were given a book to read and use in the process. There was very little demonstration of how to use the material. Therefore, I did not see the value in it until this class. The 4 Phases of Curricular Mapping video by Heidi Jacobs laid it out clearly, as well as Professor Hines. The value has become crystal clear to me, and I am excited about embarking in mapping my current curriculum.

    Both people mentioned above stated that a clear foundation must be laid in order to begin. Researching the best practices from credible sources must be the first step in the process. So often educators hear what sounds like a great idea and implement it without actually researching its practices to see if it effective or not. Heidi Jacobs in her videos informs her listeners to take a look at the road ahead, stop, assess who you are as a school and who your children are, determine the knowledge of the teachers involved, do homework on other schools, and read about the course. Investigation is a vital approach to any changes being made to the curriculum. She encourages teachers and educators to ask why and state the purposes for the curriculum. Asking what problems it will solve is an important step.

  90. Then she says you need to launch the initiative. When I think of a space shuttle launch I think of the “taking off” point of the mission. Once the research has been completed, it is time to spring into action. I believe the best method to use is to work in small groups on this step of the process and to be guided clearly. Just like we would do in class with our students, we need to be given the chance to work collaboratively and cooperatively to develop initiatives. A worthwhile goal is needed so it becomes more valuable. Heidi describes the next phase as the sustaining and integrating phase. It is the way you handle professional development. It begins of process of informing the maps. It is the part that begins to integrate the curriculum with its assessments. It asks the questions about what is essential and non-negotiable as well as what is flexible or negotiable.

    The last phase moves you into mapping into the future. It is replacing the old ways of teaching and learning with newer more innovative ways. Heidi feels that much of the curriculum in schools today is dated and not relevant to our time. Conditions many times play an important role in what the future may hold in schools. Curriculum mapping projects in general must be revised and revisited to make sure it is innovative and keeps up with the continuous changes in our world.

    Jacobs, Heidi Hayes (11/15/08). Phase I - Laying the Foundation for Curriculum Change. Retrieved July 22, 2009, from You Tube Web site:

    Jacobs, Heidi Hayes (11/15/08). Phase II - Launching the Process of Curriculum Change. Retrieved July 22, 2009, from You Tube Web site:

    Jacobs, Heidi Hayes (11/15/08). Phase III - Maintaining, Sustaining and Integrating. Retrieved July 22, 2009, from You Tube Web site:

    Jacobs, Heidi Hayes (11/15/08). Phase IV Advanced Mapping Tasks. Retrieved July 22, 2009, from You Tube Web site:

  91. Rick Diebold
    Response #4

    Something I would like to explore this week has to do with Assessment. One question I had while studying for another class this semester was, "can we as teachers give the students an opportunity to look over a test or specific questions on a test ahead of time?" This is something I have not ever had any of my teachers or instructors do when using a test as an assessment. Why, or why not?

    The Why: I will first describe why I think this can be plausible. When students are given a test over a unit of study there is a lot of material they are expected to learn. OUr job as teachers is to motivate and enable our students to learn. By giving students the questions we expect them to answer ahead of time, it is going to motivate them to learn the answers. Often students will feel overwhelemed when deciphering what information to study. This mnethod can alleviate this overwhelming feeling.

    The Why Not:
    Some disadvantages I can see with this method are that students will not take the other material that was covered seriously. Students will only learn what is provided on the test. I can also rebute this by saying that there are many other methods to assess the learning of other materials. I can see how this would not work with questions such as multiple choice or t/f where the students could just memorize the sequence of numbers or letters, but again the questions can be changed around and the distractor answers changed.

    Students will still be learning the material if they are given the test questions or if they arent given the questions. I believe that providing students with test questions can be a positive motivation for them to learn the answers if they have not yet during instruction. I would like to open this up to a discussion if someone would like to respond with their opinions and advice. Please send an email.

  92. Kelly Holeman
    EDUC 620
    Reflection # 6

    In our district, we (departments) went through the process of curriculum mapping for ALL subjects last year. As a new teacher, I don’t know how often this is done, but I do know it was a valuable process. And I dare say a task that would not have been undertaken if we weren’t required to complete this and post it by administration. I don’t envy those that must try to convince their colleagues to undertake the project of curriculum mapping, because many won’t undertake mentally challenging tasks without “encouragement.” We posted our CMs on our school web site, so it would be available to the public. It forced me to take a close look at standards, sequence, and all of the components of my class. I liked the organization aspect of the task, and relied on my MC3 (Michigan Citizenship Collaborative Curriculum) for the general outline. This class (EDUC 620) has given me the tools to now go back and tweak my map, and reflect on if I accomplished what the map presents as my road map to understanding

  93. In the “Guide to Curriculum Mapping” handout from class, the idea of using the curriculum maps as a way to integrate curriculum got me thinking. Now that all of the departments in my building have publicly posted their CMs, the next logical step should be to study other departments’ curricula to see if ‘common threads’ can be developed between content areas. Under the “useful” reasons listed in the handout, the majority of reasons given are related to a holistic approach to education. Students can make more relevant connections between disciplines if we are engaging them from different subject-area angles. As teachers, we can relate to our students better if we know what they are studying in other classes. This last year, I taught all of the freshmen in the building, along with one other prep. Since the 9th grade teacher is my friend and we carpool, I always knew what the kids were reading and studying. I made a point of reading almost every book the kids were reading. This didn’t always transfer to my subject area, but occasionally it did, and at the very least, I had something to talk to my students about…. especially during seminar.
    We should take the next step in our building, and join forces to educate our students with a group approach. It should be easy in a small school like ours. It does take time; time to read the other curricula, time to collaborate; time to reschedule if necessary; time to modify lesson plans…. But I do see the value. We have given this idea lip service before, but I have not seen it in action yet. Last year, we met in grade-level groups during PLC (Professional Learning Communities) time to discuss big ideas and if there existed the potential to integrate studies. It didn’t materialize. We got away from meeting in these groups, and focused more recently on content-area PLC groups. Perhaps I will suggest that we revisit those grade-level groups so we can get back to the topic of integration. I like the suggestion in the handout of using Post-its to make the task more manageable.

  94. Relevancy is often on my mind as a history teacher. I don’t want my class ever to be about memorizing dates, biographies, events, places, battles, etc. Hell, I don’t know all of the dates I should probably know in history. But I do know the BIG ideas, and that is what I try to convey to my history students. For instance, when we studied the Great Depression, there was a great article about the current Recession and if we were headed into a depression with a capital D worthy of history books. It was a great way to discuss what causes economic downturns and how the government responds. The MC3 that I have referenced before is almost finished with the U.S. History & Geography portion. I probably will use it as my main resource this year. They suggest using a “Freedom Tracking Journal” that will be utilized often to reflect on how our country has moved both toward and away from freedom from its inception. This is a big idea, and something the kids can hold on to and yes, find useful, as they go forward in their education and in society.

  95. Reflections 6 part I
    Kevin Kreitner

    Graduate student reflection log for 7-20-09;

    Getting a reward for completing tasks? Whatever happened to just doing your job because that was your job? Isn’t your reward your end of the week paycheck, a good grade, satisfaction of doing a good job, and taking pride in you work? Has America sunk so far that we must give adults rewards for everything they do? God, I hope not. It burns my butt when someone is given a reward for doing the same job I have done but when they do it it’s a big deal. How pathetic has our society become? Maybe I am older than my age but, growing up on a farm you didn’t get a reward for working. Work is expected and you worked until the job was finished. Most of the time finishing was the reward, because you hated doing that particular job. Don’t get me wrong I am the first person to tell a student or an adult for that matter they did a great job. But to give “green certificates with a sucker”, just for getting your work in time, is like giving a dog a treat for some stupid trick.

    Isn’t enduring/conceptual knowledge what we strive for our students to possess? They aren’t going to get their by baiting them with rewards. Animals are pretty stupid; they will do anything to get rewards. Remember the squirrels on the feeder using discovery learning to get to the food. I would bet if you had a trap out there you could catch and release the same squirrels all year. Just because they solved the problem of getting the food doesn’t mean they have developed the enduring knowledge you wanted them to learn. Yes, they got one concept, get the food but, what you really wanted from them was to stop being caught. Remember, they are just squirrels looking for food and they will get to it with what ever means it takes. Don’t fall into the pitfalls of rewarding too often as you may not be getting the results you desire.

    Discovery learning is a powerful tool in education because the students are allowed to build on previously learning experiences. However, you just can’t turn the student loose and hope for the best and expect the worst. Students need to have some form of guidance. If I just turned my students loose in the lab it wouldn’t be a pretty site and “911” better be on speed dial. By incorporating a method like the five “E” learning cycle students are given the freedom they need but, also the guidance to keep them on task. This cycle relates very well with the spiral effect curriculum. It’s continually looping back to connect the learning experience. This can help students develop further into the big picture we want them to take with them to the next level.

  96. Reflections 6 partII
    Kevin Kreitner

    Graduate student reflection log for 7-20-09;

    The above also ties well into my class with the project orientated curriculum discussed in class. A lot of my coursework is based on projects. Some projects are required while a lot are student influenced aka “government projects”. Analyzing the model given in our Saturday class I feel my students generate ideas by thinking of what they want to manufacture. They then propose the project/idea to me for approval. Next, they manufacture the product using what they have previously learned and incorporating new ideas all the while being nurtured with guidance from the instructor. The project is then evaluated/inspected for problems and or needed corrections. The newly learned operations are then used to generate new ideas and role around the circle again and again for as many projects the student can create in a school career. A better name for this type of curriculum would be perpetual project oriented curriculum. Because, it never ends and there is always something new to develop, master, and learn based on the previous projects.

    Final thought, traffic was nice all the way home until I got stopped in a traffic jam 45 minutes from home. A thought, or maybe a class project, how could you get the individuals on the highway to understand the concept of doing the speed limit through construction? That way, myself and a lot of others wouldn’t have had that problem. Needless to say, I had a whole lot of extra time to think about what was discussed this weekend.

  97. My last reflection was supposed to be #6, but I accidentally put #5 on it. Oops! I agree with you, Kevin. Our society is driven by tangible rewards. It's too bad.

  98. Michelle Perkins
    7/20/09 Reflection on Curriculum

    As I looked through this week’s blogs from my classmates, I’ve realized that our EDUC 620 class is a diverse group of educators and each person represents education on all different levels. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to try to understand how others understand and their views on curriculum. Understanding is more difficult than knowledge. When students understand, they tend to be more receptive to the information. Each and every student in a teacher’s class is unique with different personalities and learning styles. In order to reach a student, it is important to have some understanding of the individual’s home life, learning style, and future educational goals and career aspirations. The current curriculum standards do not allow teachers time to really get to know who they are working with. The teacher that has the extra time to spend with students has the ability to gain the student’s trust and respect.
    The McTighe and Wiggins text explains the difference between knowledge and understanding. I am a firm believer that an individual can retain knowledge without knowing how to apply the knowledge to a real life situation and students only want to learn what interests them. My definition of knowledge is what an individual knows, facts that can be proven or researched. Understanding is how we use what we know. Students can read books and research topics that they never understand. It is also amazing to watch college students take courses and never purchase the book.
    As I look deeper into curriculum standards, I realize that they are a necessary part of educational processes. I’m also thinking that maybe there should be some standards for our curriculum standards. No one should be allowed to use our current budget crisis as an excuse to not teach children properly. Education has always been short on funds, this is not new. We can come up with money for everything but education. I know it sounds like non-sense, but students, parents, educators, administrators, and communities should challenge our government’s current education initiatives more often. I just heard on the news that Obama is currently dealing with education and standards. I don’t know if this is good or bad, I just hope some helpful adjustments can be made.
    One other situation I can’t stop thinking about occurred while standing in line for graduation in 2006 at FSU’s commencement. The famous line for the day was “C’s and D’s can get you degrees.” I could not understand how adults could graduate without putting an honest effort into their school work. This really bothered me because these individuals could possibly show up in my workplace. I was also upset because I struggled hard for my education. I am still experiencing educational mental and financial aches and pains. Today’s youth are having too much handed to them, and an education should not be one of those things. Tangible rewards is not the solution either, just temporary gratification. I agree with Rick, maybe allowing the student to prepare by giving them the question ahead of time will help. If it does not help everyone, at least it will give some students a jump start.

  99. REFLECTION PAPER 7.20.09 -7.26.09 #6
    Dave Demski
    Understanding, Understanding Understanding
    If I understand ways to get my students to understand then they must be engaged in learning and attempting to answer the essential questions. As stated in the book Understanding by Design (2005) “Because many of the truly Essential Questions recur and have no final resolution, it is appropriate to say that [seriously pursuing the question] as opposed to [answering] it is the desired result” (Wiggings and McTighe, p.58.) This may lead in the direction they should be going, which is toward transfer of this understanding to new situations, including beyond graduation.
    The questions I have been asking my students have been more about knowledge apprehension. “Dewey observed that understanding must be [comprehended], but knowledge need only be [apprehended] (Dewey in Wiggins and McTighe, p. 58-59, 2005). It is easy to create a worksheet with questions from the textbook that require the students to find the answer, and it is easy to grade. What they especially need to understand from their classes, when they are taking certification tests, and when they go to work in a shop, is the operation of the automotive systems.
    Perhaps an important, overarching question I should always be asking my students is “how does it work?” This question could be applied to a unit of study on a particular system or component, but also to their overall program. If this were used as a focus for the programs students, perhaps they would begin to understand how important it can be to know the answer to this question. Which points up the need to perhaps expand the question to “and why is it important to know how it works”?
    I hope they would learn to understand that one of the reasons they need to know how it works is so they can diagnose problems with it and repair it. They do not need to always remember exactly how every system on a vehicle works. That is not possible. They do need to know how to find that information and how to apply it to the work at hand. Similar to that is the questions we might ask ourselves as teachers, which is how does the brain work and why is that important to how students learn?
    Wiggins, G and McTighe, J, (2005). Understanding by design: 2nd edition.
    Alexandria, Virginia, USA: ASCD

  100. Bethany Good
    EDUC 620
    Reflection 6—July 20-26

    Posner (2004) outlines different strategies commonly used in curriculum evaluation. Though time consuming to create and rate, the use of a portfolio based graduation assessment similar to the one used by Central Park East Secondary School in East Harlem provides an excellent opportunity for students to reflect upon all that was learned throughout high school. Far too often students do not do this as they progress through the education. Many simply take the prescribed courses and complete the course requirements. The portfolio encapsulates crucial content and skills that students acquired while giving them an opportunity to individualize their assessment. However, with the necessary accountability measures, a portfolio cannot be the only assessment used. School districts will continue to need a standardized assessment to determine the student proficiency rate and if individual school buildings have made adequate yearly progress.

    Two types of standardized tests are used to evaluate curriculum and student achievement: norm-referenced and criterion-referenced. Norm-referenced tests evaluate students based upon the achievement levels of other students who have taken a test (Posner, 2004). While this shows how students in one school scored in comparison to other schools, the results of this type of assessment do not necessarily give an accurate evaluation of curriculum. Though unlikely, there could be a weakness in a curriculum across numerous districts or schools that could skew the data so that areas of weakness are not apparent. Criterion-referenced tests evaluate student performance based upon predetermined performance criteria (Posner, 2004). The results of this type of assessment clearly indicate whether a student met the expectation or not. This type of assessment also leads itself to establishing clearly defined high learning expectations for students. Moreover, research results indicate that establishing high expectations for students contributes to an effective schools (Lezotte, 1991). “Success in any meaningful endeavor is marked by a history of high expectations that provide the challenge and inspiration necessary to press the individual to his/her highest level of performance” (Ozturk & Debelak, n.d.). The use of criterion-referenced assessments can help schools establish these high learning expectations and track their progress towards meeting those expectations.

  101. How often should a curriculum be evaluated beyond the results of state standardized tests? In my district each subject, each purchased curriculum series is evaluated every seven years when a decision is made to keep it in its current form, supplement it, or pilot a new program. Seven years seems like a long time to commit to a program that may not adequately address all of the standards without periodically evaluating it. Yes, the adopted curriculum is evaluated and piloted before a final decision is made, but there is still room for errors since it is only used in a small number of classrooms. Many teachers will supplement the adopted core program with other learning activities if the teachers perceive a weakness in the core program; however, other teachers go through the outlined curriculum spending the specified amount of time on each lesson. Without supplementing material, a core curriculum may contain gaps in learning that may not be filled if a teacher does not supplement the program. It seems that curriculum should be evaluated on an annual basis so that the need for supplemental content and materials can be identified and taken care of in a timely manner.

    Current methods of assessing a curriculum and students do not include measures of noncognitive skills that students need to be productive citizens and employees. Despite the fact that employers have more concerns over the noncognitive skills that employees have than their academic skills, schools give relatively little attention to skills such as “…perseverance, self-confidence, self-discipline, punctuality, the ability to communicate, social responsibility, and the ability to work with others and resolve conflicts” (Rothstein, 2007, p. 425). A National Academy of Education Report published in 1987 concluded that that reason schools don’t focus on these skills is that they are difficult to assess: “Those personal qualities that we hold dear—resilience and courage in the face of stress, a sense of craft in our work, a commitment to justice and caring in social relationships, a dedication to advancing the public good in our communal life—are exceedingly difficult to assess. And so…we are apt to measure what we can, and eventually come to value what is measured over what is…unmeasured. The shift…occurs gradually….In neither academic nor popular discourse about schools does one find nowadays much reference to the important qualities…The language of academic…tests has become the primary rhetoric of schooling” (as cited in Rothstein, 2005). Because they are personal in nature, these noncognitive skills cannot be assessed on a standardized test given to multiple students at one time. This creates not only a challenge to develop a method of accurately assessing these skills but also a challenge in regards to time constraints. However, schools need to focus on that which is beneficial to students, not just what can be easily taught and assessed. Schools need to provide students with a balance between cognitive and noncognitive skills to help them be most effective in their future endeavors and develop methods for assessing their achievement in both arenas.

    Lezotte, L. (1991). Correlates of effective schools: The first and second generation. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from

    Ozturk, M. A. & Debelak, C. (n.d.). Setting realistically high academic standards and expectations. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from Academic OneFile.

    Posner, G. J. (2004). Analyzing the curriculum. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

    Rothstein, R. (2004, December).
    Accountability for noncognitive skills. School Administrator, 61(11). Retrieved July 19, 2009 from Wilson Select Plus.

    Rothstein, R. (2007). A wider lens on the black-white-achievement gap. In A. C. Ornstein, E. F. Pajak, & S. B. Ornstein, Contemporary Issues in Curriculum (pp. 421-427). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

  102. Reflection Paper #7
    Week of July 27-31

    “We have noted that when judging the essentialness of questions, intent is everything, as reflected in the entire design of work and evidence.” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2006, p. 113) This statement caught my attention, especially the words “intent is everything”. What exactly does that mean? How does this relate to the essential questions we are writing for our unit? Why should we write questions? Wiggins and McTighe used an example of a teacher who was teaching a life skills class who said there were no big ideas or essential questions for her course. I thought that was quite interesting, considering life skills are quite essential themselves.

    The essential questions we have been discussing in class are vitally important and should be the very basis of what we are teaching, the driving force of the learning. What is our intent in writing the questions? Is it just a guide to follow and hope the students perform well on our assessments, or it is the very meat of the unit or course? Wiggins and McTighe list 4 categories of the big ideas relevant to effective skill learning: key concepts, purpose and value, strategy and tactics, and context of use. (Wiggins & McTighe, 2006, p. 113) In other words, the questions we ask need to have a key concept which is relevant, a purpose and value to why it is being asked, a strategy to use while teaching the concept, and how we use the information in context of what we are doing.

    When we include this information in the questions we are asking, it seems like a natural process; this information will lend to writing effective essential questions. It ties into what we discussed in class about the questions being engaging to the students. They will be questions they have to think about in depth. Are they using problem solving skills when they are searching for answers? When they are faced with a difficult question, will they be able to know how to find answers or be able to reason through them?

    My next dilemma for writing essential questions is to know how many questions each unit should include. Wiggins and McTighe say it is best to have two to five per unit, that less must be more, and to prioritize the content for clarity on the few key questions. They should be written in a way the students understand what is being asked and be sequenced in a natural way. (Wiggins & McTighe, 2006, p. 121) Now that I have studied more about the essential questions, I believe I am ready to write and use them effectively.

    Wiggins, G & McTighe, J. (2006). Understanding by Design. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc..

  103. Reflection 5: 7-28-09
    After reading through all of the entries from my classmates, I am learning so much from each one of them. Some things that were a bit hazy have become clearer to me after reading their entries and I find that this blog is helping to clarify some thoughts. Thank you for your insights and perspectives.
    I am excited at the prospect of using these mapping skills and the Five E’s learning cycle in my own curriculum one day. The mapping has made me extract the big questions that come from all of the tasks and skills that each facet of learning has. When I think of trying to tackle all of the state standards and outcomes, it is so overwhelming. However, if you break them down and organize them in a way that is manageable and organized as in the mapping exercise, it shows the cohesiveness of the outcomes that are desired.
    On page 228, Wiggins and McTighe state that, “To have taught well is not to have used a great set of techniques or given the learner some words to give back, but to have caused understanding through words, activities, tools, guided reflection, the learner’s efforts, and feedback….The design of work for learning is as important as—and perhaps more important than—any articulate sharing of our knowledge.” I think that this statement hits the nail on the head when it comes to our role as educators. When designing an effective curriculum we need to think not only of the minute skills and facts that we want our students to learn, but also of the deeper understandings that will generate questions in the minds of our students to transfer that knowledge into understanding the enduring questions of the world.
    I like to see things in an organized, visual representation to help me understand. The rubrics and the examples of the curricular maps that Dr. Hines gave us were very helpful in breaking things down in an organized way to see clearly the outcomes and standards that need to be addresses or the gaps that may be in the curriculum using these methods would surely simplify planning for the year in a classroom environment.
    McTighe, G. W. (2005). Understanding By Design. Alexandria: ASCD.

  104. More reading, more listening, more writing, more learning, more curriculum; that describes my last couple weeks, oh yeah my daughter also got marriedJ. I’ve spent a lot of time writing curriculum this summer for my program. Between this class and the Wiggins book, the process of writing it has changed significantly. I’ve been through the curriculum writing process before over the last nine years, but finally feel like I may be doing it right. The district always sends out a “curriculum expert” to work with me. I know what you’re thinking, “who drew the short straw”. Their theory is that between my content expertise and the curriculum guru’s expertise, the product will be perfect. It’s never been that way though, and now I understand why (well, not actually understand, but starting to understand). There is no perfect way to write curriculum. One size can’t fit all, no matter how many “experts” you have involved in the process. My district has changed the required format of curriculum several times, each time thinking it would be perfect. I know this format won’t be perfect, but at least it’ll be better than all the others; because it is a living document, not a static one. I can update/change things at any time without going through a whole bunch of bureaucratic b.s. The biggest problem we had before was that it took a long time to write the curriculum, then it took the district a long time to approve it, and start to implement it. By the time it was actually in effect, it was outdated. And they always wondered why we weren’t teaching from it, go figure. The added benefit to the current process is that instructor “buy-in” is better, because we’re a part of the process not a victim of it.

    We’ve talked a lot about the backward design process. In my opinion, that’s the best way to write curriculum. Start by looking at what you want the students to understand when they’re done, and work your way back to the start. The problem begins there, because now you run the risk of teachers “teaching to the test”. I don’t think that’s necessarily a curriculum problem, I think that is more of a teacher problem. No matter how good (or bad) the curriculum is, it’s up to the teacher to get the students to UNDERSTAND the subject matter. If students can recite statistics and do great on tests but have no actual understanding how to use the material, you need to look in the mirror for the cause of the problem. The methods used to implement the curriculum in the classroom determine the success or failure. One thing I’ve noticed working with new teachers is they don’t have enough variety in their delivery. Someone told them in EDU101 that they should never lecture, so they don’t. In EDU102 they were told that kids only learn by doing, so they only concentrate on lab work. In EDU103 they learn that cooperative learning is the way to go, so everything is done as part of a group (which, by the way, is NOT what cooperative learning is supposed to be). The result is a very poorly trained student. You can lecture in class, hands-on is not the only way students learn, being stuck in a group all the time won’t ensure success. There needs to be a variety of delivery strategies to gain understanding. There needs to be a variety of assessment methods to accurately assess student understanding. Passing a multiple choice may please a bureaucrat/pencil pusher, but it doesn’t mean the students actually understand how to use the information in the real world. Now you get into passing tests to get funding, but that’s a whole other paper!

  105. Michelle Perkins
    7/27/09 Reflection on curriculum

    The current Michigan standards mention words like career exploration, employability skills, and applied learning at the high school level. Professional development is described as an educational attribute that is to encourage or instill life-long learning. Today, most students fear learning and the learning environment because of the curriculums currently being offered. It’s easier for them to learn a system that appears as if they are learning. For example, a large number of students at various levels of education can tell you how to take learning short cuts. When referring to employment, I call it “doing just enough to not get fired.”
    If everyone in the world just did enough to get by, no one would do anything efficiently. Companies all over the world operate at a fast pace and competition is heavy, doing just enough does not result in large profits in most cases, but there are the occasional success stories. As educators, I believe that it is important to keep the student focused on accomplishing realistic life-long goals efficiently. Making just enough money to barely get by is not the way that most people like to live, so why are we letting our children read, write, or perform just enough math problems to pass a test?
    Students that are doing just enough to pass tests or to pass a class eventually adapt lazy or less enthused attitudes about their education and the work they do. Most become procrastinators that don’t put forth an honest effort to get the J-O-B done correctly. Every goal/outcome of the current curriculum should encourage all students to learn efficiently for today and tomorrow.
    I am a firm believer that high school students should be fully exposed to career education as soon as possible because they should qualify for various entry level positions by graduation. For example, basic functions of an Office Administrator rarely changes, technology may change, but the basic functions of these types of positions remain the same. A high school graduate should be able to perform basic office administrative duties such as storing and retrieving data electronically also known as data entry.

  106. Reflections 7
    Kevin Kreitner

    Graduate student reflection log for 7-27-09;

    Testing and student performance, what does it really mean? I am sure most of us educators and non-educators have experienced a student or classmate who bombs a test. I also hope most of us agree that just because they failed doesn’t necessarily make that student a failure. The only thing it proves is that the student isn’t a good test taker. So, why is it in our society that the curriculum is so test driven? Yes, life is a constant test but it isn’t a standardized paper that you must pass in order to be productive. As discussed in class, concepts and enduring knowledge are what we need to survive in society.

    Curriculum and standardized testing are missing the big picture. To me the more we continue to load on the students, the lower their test scores are becoming. We have creating a monster that is trying to push every student through a system hoping everyone will be the same. As we continue to compete with a world market we see that we are falling behind and in order catch up let’s add more for the students to learn. You can’t do this. We are comparing to different worlds. Here we are providing an education to everyone, while most other countries are only educating the best and brightest. I will agree that we are not producing (sounds like we are trying to manufacture) the same amount of post secondary degrees as some other countries. But maybe it is because our school systems are watering down the system so all students move through the school at the same pace? If the best and brightest aren’t being challenged then they become lazy and lose interest in school. Half of my students are extremely intelligent but tell me they are boarded with the everyday life of the traditional classroom.

    Curriculum mapping can play a huge part in correcting the wrong stated above. Not only should mapping be a tool for schools and staff but also for students. When students have a better understanding of where it is they are going. They can move through their course work more readily knowing what is expected of them. Who is to say it takes thirteen years to go through school. Maybe some students can complete the needed map information in just ten years while others may need fifteen. Curriculum mapping needs to cover more than just the state standards it needs to tap into the student’s needs and desires. Thus making the curriculum maps a living document that students have imputed on how they will succeed.

    Michelle mentioned in class on Sunday that we need to teach students a skill in order to survive and be productive in society. Could this be a part of the students curriculum map? Using the European system as a model maybe we could tweak what they are doing and have the students create alternative avenues at certain points in their school career. With the information educators gain from this they could nurture enduring/essential knowledge based on the student’s desires. Creating this, however, means continually updating curriculum and mapping yearly. This means a lot of work and I can’t see this happening in our schools since too many of us are married and have kids.

    Final thought, an old machine repair man taught me it isn’t the how it goes together, it is the why does it go together that way. I interpret this as the gestalt theory the some of the parts is equal to the whole. Or, we need to have a foundation/concept before we jump into the unknown. Sounds a lot like teaching.

  107. Excellent thoughts, Michelle!

  108. Kristine Harvey
    Reflection #7
    July 30, 2009

    Eiy, eiy, eiy. I feel like I’m getting the big picture on all this curriculum stuff: big ideas to frame course work, formative assessments to inform me about students’ understanding (right?) and summative assessments to provide students a way to demonstrate their understanding (correct?). I see how a mission statement can trickle down into my classroom by shaping my essential questions and keep me and my students grounded in big life thinking rather than miniscule details. However, I do feel a little like when I go to write everything down in the curriculum, and when I read more and more of UbD, I feel like I get all tangled up; it’s as if I had gum on my shoes and all the little strings get tangled all over everything.

    Perhaps, though, messing things up is a little bit of the point in Understanding by Design. On page 301 our authors write, “We must check our bad habit of building frameworks around the logic of content instead of the logic of learning. To put the matter in blunt terms, most books frameworks and courses merely reflect the organization of content in text-books, not the needs of learners trying to understand.” Our authors link the words “nonlinear learning” and understanding. The implication is that what make logical sequential sense for one purpose may not be logical for my students in order to understand.

    When putting together my unit map I was very surprised to find myself plugging in a lesson in a spot where I had never placed it before. In terms of materials and skills, the drawing lesson falls into a later part of my course. When arranging my lessons within an essential question and within a piece of essential knowledge, the lesson popped up much earlier. In this earlier location students will be able to compare the pros and cons of this particular way of making art with other ways of making art. Accompanied by thoughtful reflection, I believe this new order will help students feel like they will walk away from the class with not only skills but a wisdom or enduring knowledge which may actually endure.

    Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2006). Understanding by design. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

  109. ps. Michelle, I hear you when you say that many students do enough to just get by. And Kevin, I hear you, too, when you say this should somehow be built into the curriculum. Oftentimes I feel like my students are so isolated from the world and the world of possibilities. I think you are right, Michelle, about exposing students to employment options. I don't do enough of that. We do take our entire junior class to Chicago each year to do city things, stay in a youth hostel and visit colleges on our trip home. But how DOES one counter act the culture of "just getting by?" Thanks for the thought.

  110. Comment #5
    Rick Diebold

    When students are assessed on selection-type test items, such as multiple choice, short answer, true flase, there are definite correct and incorrect answers. However when students are assessed with supply-type items, there is more room for correct answer; less of a boundary for the correct answer.
    When instructors grade these supply-type test questions and, in general, projects that are subjectively graded, how accurate are the grades students are given? How often does the teacher take into account how well the student is liked, how well they are performing in the class, the attitude they have in class? When this is occurring the student is no longer just being assessed on the project or question they submit, but on other factors in the classroom. How can this be addressed?
    When assessing these supply items and projects if instructors grade based on a rubric they have a much more rigid structure to base a grade on. A rubric gives specific steps and criteria which an instructor can pinpoint when grading/assessing.
    This can be an effective method, but can still not completely rule out the prejudcice of teachers. This is truly hurting the student more than it is helping. When the students get out of high school and enter college or the labor force, they will have to adjust.

  111. Kelly Holeman
    EDUC 620
    Reflection #7 July 31, 2009

    In preparation for my curriculum mapping project, I went back to Understanding by Design to expand my understanding of essential questions. On pages 108-109, four different connotations are described. I found meaning in each of the four connotations. The first one, ‘important questions that recur throughout all our lives’ applies well to my content area of Social Studies. I see this aspect as the fundamentals of democracy, and the limitations or boundaries of democracy in society. I loved the SS example in the second connotation: “Is any history capable of escaping the social and personal history of its writers?” I copied this down to post in my classroom. I do talk a lot in my classes about the difference between primary and secondary documents, bias in textbooks, etc. In one of my classes, we decided it would be a great idea to obtain a history book from another country, say Japan, and see how they portray WWII, for example.
    Another important point made in these depictions of essential questions is the inherent ambiguity of posing essential questions. What I consider essential might be dismissed by another teacher. But I think that is the beauty of teaching. As long as personal agendas don’t dominate the classroom, it does allow individual personalities and styles to inhabit a classroom and make it truly yours. Just like teachers don’t always get the expected answers to questions, what was considered the “right” answer might be one of many legitimate solutions. Flexibility is key. I have learned in my (short) teaching career that some of the most valuable teaching opportunities come from unexpected diversions in my planned curriculum. I like the criteria provided on page 110 because the bottom line is that we teach in a way that encourages students to engage in thoughtful reflection on the content, and learn in a way that makes sense, by using connections, discussion, and inquiry.

  112. Part Two

    I will be teaching Psychology and Sociology for Baker College this year as part of our Dual Enrollment program. This is a great opportunity for me to implement all I have learned in this class, from Dr. Hines, the texts, and my fellow students. I think this subject area naturally lends itself to framing a curriculum around the essential questions. I was given a syllabus for the classes, but not a curriculum. I am excited about the prospect of mapping out these classes with my new models. I will have more freedom to design this curriculum because no one else teaches it, and I am not tied to state standards and benchmarks. When I read the chapter in UbD on “Thinking like an Assessor,” I can easily see a draft of my Psych. CM. “Observations and dialogues” will be a mainstay of my class, discussion will be important, and academic prompts are the perfect form of assessment for a college-level class. I will encourage the students to select their own projects that tie into our subject matter, and use their research to address essential questions that I pose. The students will be able to apply the theories of psychology to real-life scenarios.
    I find the UbD textbook quite practical. Not only does the book illustrate what essential questions, instruction, activities, assessment, etc. should look like, it gives examples. No one can say, well this doesn’t work for my subject area. Pages 163-167 describe the facets of assessment, with practical example given in multiple content areas. Page 168 lists proposed performance tasks for sample essential questions. It has really inspired me to rethink my big ideas, and how I can organize instruction (& assessment) around them. The state standards for social studies do tend to lend themselves easily to this type of CM as well. One essential question can easily encompass many standards. The difference between acquisition of facts and meaningful understanding is becoming clearer to me all the time.

  113. Like Kelly said, I find that Ubd is a great tool for me to use when designing and evaluating the content that I teach. The outlines and suggestions for lesson planning are very helpful to frame the enduring questions that I will pose to my students. On page 110 the suthors give examples of various types of essential questions.

    The 6 facets of understanding outlined on pade 163 help to clarify what the students' responses might be to indicate their level of understanding. I sometimes find it difficult to judge the level of "understanding" my students have if I let them answer open-ended questions. Being that they were 4th graders, sometimes the conventions of writing got in the way of their ablility to explain fully.
    As I am working on my mapping assignment, I am realizing that I have used many of these strategies and methods for organizing curriculum in the past. The use of a matrix and the type of template Dr. Hines showed us makes things clear. I can find gaps in the unit I am planning and in the concepts that are yet missing from the unit. Although this process seems to be tedious and labor intensive, I feel that teachers would thoroughly know the course of study that they are on with their students and be able to pinpoint areas which are lacking or need refining.

  114. Bethany Good
    EDUC 620
    Reflection 7—July 27-August 2

    Wiggins and McTighe (2005) stress the differences between a syllabus and a textbook. I had never considered the contrast between the two and the implications that the differences have on curriculum. I previously believed that the formally adopted curriculum was a syllabus that outlined the course of study for the year, and I always criticized the adopted curriculum for not adequately addressing all of the topics that needed to be studied throughout the year. However, I now see the importance of making my own syllabus that provides a framework for what topics will be studied and can use the adopted series as a tool to fulfilling the plan for learning. Why aren’t teachers at the K-12 level required to create a course syllabus?

    At what point are students able to uncover learning for themselves? As a Kindergarten teacher, I tend to frontload lessons because I assume that the students need a significant amount of background knowledge to be successful with various concepts and skills. However, maybe I do too much of this. Maybe my assumptions are wrong. There are certain skills and concepts that may need to be taught explicitly, but there are many more that through properly designed activities the students could discover. My students are inquisitive, but I don’t often give them the chance to make observations and draw their own conclusions until the end of the year. In order to help my students learn, I need to step back and alter my teaching approach so that I give them opportunities to discover learning for themselves.

    Reflecting upon the five E’s presents another topic for consideration in regards to teaching young students. In class when we discussed the fourth E, elaboration, and described it as a project-based activity requiring students to apply the skills or concepts learned within the previous E’s. I continue to grapple with how to apply this in a classroom of five year olds. They would be unable to read directions to complete a project and have limited attention spans. What types of projects would be developmentally appropriate for them? Would the projects be best formatted for completion as a class?

    The analogy provided by Wiggins and McTighe (2005) comparing teaching to the test with cramming to pass a doctor’s physical provides a clear picture of the importance of teaching the skills and concepts, not just teaching to the test. Just as engaging in health building activities just before a doctor’s appointment won’t have long lasting benefits, teaching specifically to the test won’t either. Teachers who focus on skills and concepts linked to the state standards and find ways for students to actively apply their learning will provide students with an education that will help them apply their learning to different situations, including tests. Students who truly comprehend the standards and their application will be able to successfully complete a standardized test.

    Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

  115. REFLECTION PAPER 7.27.09 -8.2.09 #7
    Dave Demski
    Performance Assessments
    An important aspect of my students’ automotive training is their ability to perform specific tasks on the vehicles they work on and practice their skills with. The assessments that I have often use are tests and quizzes based on their work in the classroom. These do count as a certain percentage of their overall grade, about half of their grade.
    The other half of their grade is based on their performance in the shop. Typically this means performing tests and service procedures on vehicles or components from a vehicle, such as an engine or transmission. The learners must turn in a repair order each day that is later scored as that part of their grade for the class.
    When you work in a shop you must turn in a repair order when a vehicles repair is completed. The “assessment” of the repair is the technician’s verification of the repair. In my classes the assessment is often on the procedure rather than the finished product (repair). In either case above, the feedback should be immediate.
    This part of my student’s performance assessments has not been as prompt as it should be to be similar to that of working in a shop. One of the improvements that I see from studying curriculum design and performance assessments is that I should use more performance assessments and they should be scored immediately. Their lab repair order takes time to score, so perhaps adding a rubric on the repair order would be beneficial. That part of it can be scored before the end of a lab session to give the student some of that immediate feedback, especially when the assessment is on a process rather than a product.

  116. Reflections 8
    Kevin Kreitner

    Graduate student reflection log for 8-3-09;

    I keep reading about teaching to the test. Isn’t the best indicator for an educator’s not doing this, is by how much information the student retains after summer break? Some of you haven’t had the joy of working in a trimester system yet, but at my school we are in our second year. With summer break winding down I feel I am in for a reality check. I haven’t had some students in over nine months. I am very curious to see how many of them retained the big question concepts. Usually, for the returning students, it takes a week to review the machines and safety requirements. This by all means is uncharted territory for me and I hope I am up for the challenge.

    My wife has too been taking graduate classes this summer however, hers are in science. We often disuse how her professors are instructing/covering the course work, and are they getting the big picture across. It always blows my mind when she has test. It seems like she studies and studies but when the test is over half the information vanishes into thin air. All the information the professor wants is recall. Aren’t all students supposed to look further into the meaning and concepts so they can have a deeper understanding? I never really thought about this until one day a fellow machine tool instructor at the community college told me that most of the instructors at the college level have few, if any, education courses. They are just teaching how they were taught. Should all college instructors be required to have education courses? I’d bet if you told them that you would be in the fight of your life.

    Teaching to standards and what order do you go in? This summer I have spent 60 plus hours analyzing my state standards. However, I am not sure if mine are the same as the general education world. We have our standards broken down into 12 segments based from combination of information from four main sections. To my understanding there is no right order to present the information. It is up to the educator to create a logical method of delivery for student achievement. I have noticed from our class unit project that some of the standards from a segment are at the beginning of a course while others are at the end. Still, some standards are not being given until a latter advanced course. Give too much information too fast and the student looses development into concepts. Is this alright? Unlike general education we don’t have a standardized test. We do, however, have standards and who is to say when and how you must cover them.

    In class we discussed how new ideas fail because of lack of time committed to the project. Time is a huge part to anything. In education it seems that if you are planning to do something take what you feel is an adequate amount of time and double it. But there needs to be more than just time to make it work it takes a lots of preplanning, post planning, and everything in between. Curriculum development is a project and it is going to take countless, non-paying hours of work get it done, so get use to it. Besides time, curriculum development needs a plan of attack. All too often it seems like we are just spinning our tires not going anywhere. The techniques and strategies we discussed in class can be a great tool for school/teacher guidance for the ever developing and changing curriculum.

    Final thought, curriculum is like a can of worms you never know what is wiggling around and what will make its way to the top.

  117. Reflection Paper #8
    Week of August 3-7

    Linking assessments to the big idea shouldn’t be a difficult task, but it has not been demonstrated effectively in our schools. Facts are often the driving force of the assessments that follow the units of study. When practically created, assessments should be the evidence that students understand the big idea or essential questions. It demonstrates that the students have learned the subject matter.

    “’Current research on intelligence and the brain suggests that we learn best when we are engaged in meaningful classroom learning experiences that help us discover and develop our strengths and talents.’ (Silver, Strong and Perini, 1997). It is through these learning experiences that teachers not only motivate our quest to learn, but also foster the development of persistence and effort that is necessary for acquiring skills, knowledge, and attitudes in sufficient depth for us to be able to apply them in other settings. The prior knowledge that we bring with us to a new learning situation exerts a tremendous influence on how we interpret this new experience. In order to successfully learn new information, we must be able to construct meaning actively and relate it to our own lives in a meaningful way.” (Hammond, 2007)

    We had a class discussion about assessments, which helped me put into perspective what an assessment is and its real purpose. I have thought about this many times but never realized exactly what I was doing when designing or implementing an assessment to the extent that I should have. Meaningful and relevant, engaging and responsive, authentic and essential are all words I would now use to describe an assessment. Rather than giving the basic tests and quizzes with tidbits of information which may never really connect the essential questions to the concepts, assessments should have all of the stated qualities. I believe we would have less anxiety in our classrooms if students knew they were being assessed on more than just the facts but what they have really learned.

    My view of assessments has evolved from our classroom discussions, from the readings, and from what I have been doing in my own classroom. I have always used a variety of assessments, but I am challenged to find or develop new ones that are more adequately linked to the key concepts and essential questions.

    Hammond, Glen (9/12/07). Retrieved July 22, 2009, from Multiple Methods of Assessments Web site:

  118. The design process…how do you cover a topic that is so enormous in one chapter? The author says, “all design is a non-linear process”. It can’t be linear, because real world learning isn’t linear. If you ask 10 different curriculum guru’s to list the steps in design, you’re very likely to get 10 different answers. The only commonality may be starting with content standards. I think the analogy they use in the book about design being similar to creating a recipe is fantastic. It fits perfectly. You start out by looking at what you want to make, then you start the process of making it. It doesn’t come out perfectly, so you tweak the recipe. Each time you make it, you learn something new; and change the recipe accordingly. You let others try it, and take their opinion into consideration. Just like teaching a lesson; each time you do it, you learn something and adapt it accordingly. If you teach the same lesson the same way over and over, there is never any improvement. If there is never any true assessment of the lesson, by yourself and others, there is no way to know whether it is truly effective or not. If a cake doesn’t taste good, would you keep making it the same way? If a lesson doesn’t bring understanding, would you keep teaching it the same way? Too often educators get used to doing things the same way and are reluctant to change the approach. The book talks a lot about revising the existing design. Each time you implement curriculum, honest reflection should take place. Just because it worked well last time doesn’t mean it’s going to work well next time. Furthermore, we need to ask why we’re “baking a cake” in the first place. If it doesn’t link to the standards, is it really necessary. Just because students enjoy a lesson doesn’t make it worthwhile to teach it. There is no room for “fluff” in a classroom (my apologies to those of you believe there is).

    There are many unavoidable dilemmas in curriculum design, which is what turns off most of us from doing it. If you think taking a couple classes, reading a few books, and writing a couple chunks of curriculum is going to ensure problem free design…WAKE UP! There is no such thing. You’ll never be dilemma free, you just have to weigh the options and take the lesser of the evils. For example, my district promotes “facilitated learning”, meaning they think of educators more as tour guides on the students journey of learning. With the proper mechanisms in place, that works a large percentage of the time. But…writing curriculum that is totally geared towards it is impossible. There are times when facilitating just won’t work. Then there is always the time factor; there is a lot of information we feel needs to be taught, but there are only so many days available to teach it. You have to decide what to cut out, and do it. You simply can’t fit 2 bushels into a bushel basket. This particular dilemma seems to give educators the most problem. You just have to accept that you’ll never be able to add more hours/days; all you can do is utilize the time you have to it’s fullest. While it’s great to have a plan with a timetable, you’ve got to be flexible enough to adapt to situations as they arise. The book offers some advice on “grappling” with these dilemmas. But, like most problems educators face, the best teacher is experience and an open mind. Don’t be afraid to admit something didn’t work right, and don’t be too proud to ask for advice/help from others. Keep in mind that just because someone is newer to the profession doesn’t mean they can’t have good advice to give also.

  119. Mandy LaBarre
    Reflection #6

    As I looked back at my notes from our last weekend of classes I noticed questions to think about as we build our curriculum. They included
    -Who are your students? How do they learn? What are their demographics and goals? What are their interests? What prior learning experiences doing they bring with them?

    It seems that from year to year, we continue to teach the same way. We deliver the curriculum with little to no changes. Why is this? Our student population is changing? Our classroom demograhics are changing? Our curriculum should be taking into consideration our students and their interests.

    I am a reading specialist and work with students one-on-one or in small groups. When I have students who struggle with reading or writing I've learned to change my teaching instead of blaming the student for their struggles. I had one student who loved to play baseball. I finally took the time to get to know his interests and alter my curriculum a bit. Instead of choosing books for him and telling him what to write about, I chose a variety of books about famous baseball players. He became invested in what he was reading and started getting excited about writing.

    Curriculum should be flexible. It shouldn't be set in stone and carried over year after year. As our students change so should the curriculum.

  120. Mandy LaBarre
    Reflection #7

    Are we setting our own students up for failure? After looking at our assessment driven curriculum, I would say yes. We aren't teaching them enduring knowledge. We don't need to teach our students everything, but we do need to teach them essential knowledge.

    I have learned that it isn't necessarly what we teach but how we teach. As teachers, we have ownership in how the curriculum is delivered. We must step back and examine fact vs. knowledge. How many of our students understand the difference between fact and knowledge? Not many of mine do.

    If we want our students to learn essential knowledge then teachers must embrace the idea that all students can learn. It might require us to take different steps in how we teach our units but if that's what needs to be done in order to help our students to be successful then that's out job. We must change our teaching to suit the needs of the students.

    This is easier said than done but it's something I will strive to do each and every day. It might not be easy and I know I'll get frustrated but my job is to give the students what they need.

  121. Reflection 8-4-09
    As teachers we always need to modify and adapt to meet the needs of our students. By engaging in curriculum mapping, we can clearly see if there are gaps or modifications that we can make to help our students.

    When I first began teaching I felt overwhelmed with the quantity of information that I was supposed to cover. I think If I had been taught how better to look at the overall goals of the year, it may have been easier to organize and plan for each subject.

    This class has taught me how to better envision the curriculum as the whole experience of the student, not just the individual details that they are taught.

    I think that my classmates in this class are very insightful and I am taking all that they say to heart. The curriculum mapping assignment has been helpful to see how the standards are aligned with the objectives and essential goals for each activity.

  122. Curriculum mapping is wonderful! Though it is time-consuming, the outcome is worth all the effort. It serves as a great communication tool with administrators, peer instructors, parents, and other stakeholders.

    Just recently, I visited a community college to talk about direct credit. I am able to use the curriculum mapping tool from this program to clearly demonstrate how my objectives align with this school's objectives, show the instructional strategies, and student's work, and the assessment process.

    Curriculum mapping is one of the great outcomes of this class for me. I appreciate the aspect of Essential Questions and have integrated that into the curriculum map. Summative and Formative testing discussions have also been helpful as our School Improvement Team will be focusing on this next year.

    Our classroom discussions have been very insightful. Thanks to everyone for their willingness to share!

  123. Kelly Holeman
    EDUC 620
    Reflection #8

    One challenge I am encountering as I finish up my curriculum map (CM) project and re-evaluate my existing CMs that I had already created for my school is how much detail to include. The CM I did for my district describes what aspects of the subject I am teaching and when I am teaching it. I did add a breakdown of geographical perspective however; for instance is this subject a global, interregional, or regional topic. And then it’s also broken down into eras (the class I was assigned last year was World History & Geography). I notice now when I’m looking at it (probably the first time I’ve looked at it since I completed it in Dec.) that I did include more detail in the units I had already taught with the idea I would add more detail later… there’s that living document idea. This class (EDUC 620) has motivated me to take a much deeper look at the existing CM and evaluate it for effectiveness.
    I would think that the detail and format of the CM would at least partly depend on the audience. Who is it really intended for? Teachers? Students? Parents? Administrators? My feeling is that a schedule including what is taught when, along with the major activities should suffice. The what could then be matched up with the state standards for those inclined to do so, and the activities could spark interest and preparation on the part of the student and parents. For instance, “I see we are going to watch a certain movie, read a certain novel, or write an essay, or use some new cool technology.” This should provide opportunities for students and parents to connect over academics. Ahhhhh….that sounds great! I’m afraid the CMs are more a result of administrator demands, and therefore mostly completed with administrators in mind. There must be a format that would meet all of the stakeholders’ needs…. Hmmmm… living document……hmmm…

  124. Kelly Holeman #8 Part Two
    As a new teacher, I often wonder about the changes in education. People say that things move slowly… but I see teachers getting pretty freaked out at the prospect of any change. As a new teacher, I love to just soak everything in, and roll with all the new ideas and challenges. I know curriculum mapping is probably not new; however, the ideas regarding format and purpose probably do change. When we recently underwent posting our CMs in the district, there was a lot of analysis and collaboration on the content and purpose of the CM.

    I think much of the anxiety surrounding CM and assessment has to do with a dependence on textbooks. I went to a Social Studies Learning Consortium this winter; the ISD consultants were “rolling out” the MC3. There was a teacher in my breakout group that was distraught because she couldn’t reconcile the MC3 with her book…. “where do I start? How can I skip around in the book? My book doesn’t cover this….” Etc. She couldn’t accept that the MC3 was based on the STATE STANDARDS, and the textbook should be only a tool in teaching her curriculum.

    Several others mentioned assessment. Again, I think a lot of assessment is textbook-driven. Some teachers depend on chapter or unit tests that are supplied by the textbook suppliers, and those assessments are mostly fact-driven and may or may not align with standards. I look forward to the challenges ahead in both developing CMs and constantly striving for ways to teach more effectively.

    David Demski
    Curriculum Design
    Designing curriculum properly takes a lot of time. Not only is time a factor, but expertise as well. As the author states about what this book may do in the preface to Understanding by Design (Wiggins, 2005) which is “rock you world” (p. vi). Teachers have probably not been trained well to design even their own curriculum and have their comfortable world turned from “rocks” to sand that slips through their fingers as they design their curriculum.
    For a curriculum to be designed well it may need to be undertaken like the redesign of the administrative offices. I assume that a highly trained professional comes in with a team and makes a plan. Shortly after the plan is approved, professional workers come in and start the preparation of the area. Then, a large supply of beautiful new fixtures and furniture arrive and it is installed by trained professionals.
    No expense seems to be spared for this type of design, where in the same institution perhaps no or very little expense is put into designing the curriculum. The only expense I see as a curriculum committee member is the instructors returning time after time to try and get the design correct so it will be approved by the committee.
    Perhaps a curriculum design team should also be hired for helping teachers design or improve the design of their curriculums. This design team could help the teachers do more than just cover the material for the mandated tests. As stated by Wiggins (Wiggins, 2005), “Good design, then, is not so much about gaining a few technical skills as it is about learning to be more thoughtful and specific about our purposes and what they imply” (p.14). That purpose might be to help students understand rather than just know facts.
    Curriculum design should be built around that idea of student understanding. The most important feature of a new office is that it must function properly within the area that it is built in. A curriculum must function properly also, but always keeping in mind that it needs to fit into the area of understanding for the students.
    In the new office area, the worker may make some adjustments and changes that still allow the functionality of the office. Shelves may be adjusted, or lights, or chair and desk positions, but the main design remains the same. Teachers should also have the ability to make adjustments to the curriculum according to their expertise, but the curriculum reminds them that the most important thing is that students understand. Similarly, the walls and limits of adjustments of the fixtures in an office remind the worker that they are still within their area of functionality.

  126. Dave Demski Part 2
    Understanding the Design
    Hopefully the unit that I designed for this class will not only make me better at designing, or redesigning, my own curriculum but also a better teacher. My old habit, as formulated by Wiggins (Wiggins, 2005) has been more of a “content-focused design instead of results-focused design” (p. 15). The results should be more than just the outside standard that is addressed but also an understanding of why the standard is important and what else does the learner need to understand. By that I mean what are the theories behind the standard and how does the standard relate to the students goals for the course.
    Their goal might be to become an automotive technician or just to be able to work on their own vehicle. Many times a repair can be figured out based on the theory of operation of the system. For either goal the theories are important and the standard which they practice to gain competence in actual repairs or diagnosis, and the tools and equipment needed to perform.
    The steps to curriculum design are stated simply by Wiggins (Wiggins, 2005) as follows, “1. Identify desired results, 2. Determine acceptable evidence, 3. Plan learning experiences and instruction” (p.18). These simple steps are easy to remember and can be applied to a curriculum design or the parts of a curriculum, such as a unit or lesson within unit. I think now I am starting to get it! Keep it simple!

    Wiggins, G and McTighe, J, (2005). Understanding by design (2nd ed.).
    Alexandria, Virginia, USA: ASCD

  127. Bethany Good
    EDUC 620
    Reflection 8—August 3-9

    I have so many questions about why some schools do not commit to complete tasks that significantly influence instruction and learning. My district has not provided professional development or resources to support the creation of a curriculum map. While I understand why it has happened, I do not know why the thought that the difficult and time-consuming things can simply be overlooked exists. Yes, creating a curriculum map that provides teachers with a guide through the content of the year is a laborious task; however, it is a tool that can have a large influence on student learning. We even have an ideal format for beginning this, professional learning communities (PLC). Last year our PLC spent so much time creating assessments and gathering data that we never took the time to truly analyze the data collected and alter our instruction in light of it. My hope is that this year our PLC will take the time to map out our instruction and use the data from common assessments to determine how the map needs to change to most effectively help students learn.

    Creating a curriculum map that is shared with others goes against the philosophy that many teachers have against sharing their instructional ideas. I am thankful to work with colleagues who willingly share ideas and activities with the only stipulation being that if you improve it you have to share your improvements with the person that originally gave you that idea. How can you create map of learning activities that could be used within a grade level when some people do not want to share those activities? Discussing the curriculum maps in class, even though the maps were of different grade levels and subjects, gave me insight into how to improve my map. I can only imagine how valuable a curriculum map could be if it included a compilation of different teachers’ most effective learning activities. No two teachers are likely to incorporate the same activities or lessons, but sharing those ideas generates a wealth of knowledge that can improve student learning for the grade level.

    I never realized how truly dynamic a curriculum can be. Initially I thought that the official curriculum was the only true curriculum, even though I used supplemental activities in my classroom. The official curriculum may change every five to seven years, but the implemented curriculum changes often. I cannot begin to count the number of times I altered my curriculum map because I wanted to add an activity or delete one that did not fit the standard in quite the way I intended. The constant revisions support the inclusion of new approaches to instruction and teaching as well as the deletion of ineffective activities. Each year teachers are required to address all of the state standards, but the method for doing so may vary from year to year as improvements to the implemented curriculum are made.

    I now see the need to outline the specific learning goals and activities for each marking period and clearly share these with parents. In the beginning of the year, we host a curriculum night where parents learn about the end of the year expectations and topics that the students will study. While this is important, it is not necessarily of great importance to them at that point in the year. Knowing this does not help them work with their children at home on concepts currently being studied. What may be more effective is a breakdown of when different skills are taught throughout the year linked to different learning activities and games that parents could do with their children at home.

  128. Weekend recap 8-10-09

    Sunday was an experience I will soon not forget. I have never taken a graduate level course that made presentations. That was one of the most insightful learning experiences I have had in a long time. It is always interesting to see how other educators interpret what is to be presented in an assignment. I have taken something from each and every one of you. The presentations were a real eye opening experience to see how diverse our group really was. I never really put much thought into what went into other educators planning until now. Thank you for improving my teaching style.

    Elementary level teachers my hats off to what you do. I could never make it through a day dealing with your world. General education teachers you are amazing at how you come up with different activities to keep students interested. Michelle, as always, your outside view looking in is always insightful. Thank you. CTE instructors it is nice to see we are different when it comes to are subject areas but are all facing similar problems.

    All of you have helped me develop different thoughts, opinions, and viewpoints from how you reflect on what we are learning and developing. I was at a banquet one evening a couple of years ago and the key note speaker told all of us to steal whatever information you could from people with similar occupations.. Well, I have about ten pages of notes scribbled down in my note book because all of you. Thank you and good luck on all of your future endeavors.


  129. Reflection 8-10-09
    These past weeks have really helped me to understand how to create useful plans that will direct my teaching in a way that is productive, enriching, and efficient. Understanding By Design is a wonderful resource to which I am sure I will again return. I have come to understand that curriculum is much more than the list of standards and benchmarks that a district may hand you when you first begin teaching. I understand that it is a dynamic and ever-changing thing that I will continually adapt in order to meet the needs of my students. Because curriculum is the whole experience of my school and classroom, I will always remember to consider the hidden, formal, and informal types of curriculum I am teaching my students.
    I have been thinking how teachers sometimes seem to feel like they want to keep to themselves, even when they know they are doing something that everyone would benefit from hearing about. Why is that? It may be that you were a “newbie” as I was, and didn’t want to ruffle any feathers in the beginning. It may be that inherent sense of competition that people have to want to look the best. Maybe that prevents teachers from sharing. I am not sure. I think that it is such an unusual thing that we can all get together in a class such as ours, as strangers, and share our thoughts, insights and great ideas, but when it comes to the co-workers in our building, it can be so hush-hush. When I am in a school building again, I hope that I will have the opportunity to discuss and share the things I have learned from this class. It may only get a discussion going among my peers, but it may cause a revolution! It seems that the bottom-up model of curriculum planning is the way to go, and in the future, I won’t be afraid to discuss openly how I have mapped my curriculum with my fellow teachers and give them the tools to do it for themselves, as well.
    I, like many have stated above, have enjoyed hearing from my classmates about the challenges they all face in their professions. It was refreshing to hear from such a diverse group of people from varying areas of learning. I have taken bits and pieces of insight from everyone. Even though we come from different levels of expertise, we all have something to offer to the group. I especially liked how different everyone’s curriculum map was from each other. Thanks for sharing everyone and enjoy the rest of your summer.

  130. Oops! Sorry that there is no space between paragraphs above. That is hard to read. It didn't transfer from Word properly.