I recently presented a pre conference workshop on coaching and several breakout sessions at the Mediterranean Association of International Schools in Tunis. A great chance to combine a history lesson with future visioning.
Heidi Hayes Jacobs was a keynoter and presented Becoming a 21st Century International School: Curriculum 21 What to cut? What to keep? What to create?
She presented four interlocking structures that are fundamental to the options that schools have for implementing dynamic curriculum and instruction and the need to consider all four of them simultaneously.
What type of both long-term and short-term schedules will best support our specific learners?
What various ways of grouping our learners will assist them in their learning experiences?
How should faculty be configured to best serve students and to assist one another?
In what ways can both physical and virtual space be created and used to support our work?
Read the chapter in her book .
Here are of few of my thoughts in each area.
Schedules: I am often asked by high school staffs, “What is the best length of period?”. My answer is to develop a plan where instruction drives the schedule instead of the schedule driving instruction. When a teacher has a great learning option for students, she should be able to adjust the schedule to “make it happen” rather than sorting through learning options discarding those that the schedule precludes.
Scheduling assessments…great day when students can take assessments when they are ready rather than when then calendar schedule says its time.
Karl Fisch is a high school math teacher who flipped the homework and class work schedule. By broadcasting his instructional presentations, he has students watch the instruction at home and then work on problems in the classroom where he can now assist.
Grouping Learners– To maximize learning we need to be considering how we can most often have students studying with and learning from the most appropriate colleagues. Again flexibility is the key. Can an elementary school create a tutoring experience where they match 5-2, 4-1, and 3-K pairs? The older students plan and conduct a learning experience with a learning outcome for the younger.
Some schools are practicing intervention times where all teachers are working with groups of learners continually regrouped around need skills instruction.
How can students group themselves around interest in Small Learning Communities and online networks?
Configuring Staff- Heidi Hayes Jacobs said at the conference that we tend to often have the wrong people meeting. Grade level teams or high school departments are often implemented with little or no consideration being given to vertical teams or inter-disciplinary teams. Many districts need to create cross school teams …8th grade middle school teachers working with 9th grade high school teachers to best meet student needs.
Online PLCs often called Professional Learning Networks create new ways for teachers to team on projects.
Physical and Virtual Space—The ideas here are endless once we get outside the Big Box of Little Boxes that we often call school. Here’s a blog with some great links for exploring the possibilities…a great topic to involve students in exploring.
Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ comments about the need to interconnect the four items caused me to flash to time after time when we did one change alone and had it go nowhere. We changed the schedule but not the grouping of teachers or students. We put teachers in Small Learning Communities but don’t give them flexibility of the schedule.
If you haven’t seen the TED video of Sugata Mitra’s experiments giving students self- supervised access to the web, watch it and consider the possibilities for changing schedules, groupings, teaching assignments and learning space.