Is it time to redesign your curriculum for the 21st century learner?

E-School News – Stephen Noonoo

“A new framework advocates for carefully curating what students learn. Is it time to rethink your curriculum? It’s not a stretch to say that today’s educational paradigm is preoccupied with the “how” of learning. Educators are grappling — either by choice or decree — with how to incorporate digital devices, new learning standards, and more collaboration and critical thinking into the already-packed school day. With so much to do, who has time to take a fine-toothed comb through the curriculum or debate whether students still need to know the date of the Battle of Hastings? But maybe it’s exactly the right time, according to Charles Fadel, the founder of of the Center for Curriculum Redesign and a visiting practitioner at Harvard’s Graduate School for Education. Fadel has previously written about 21st century skills and recently turned his attention to the “what” of learning as co-author of a new book, “Four-Dimensional Education,” which is less of a teach this, not that manual and more of a framework for exploring the modern competencies students will need in a world where job titles and career choices are changing faster than schools can keep up. Recently, Fadel spoke with us about his framework, the appeal of inter-disciplinary subjects, and whether it’s time to retire the old Capitals of the World quiz once and for all.”(more)

Senator Pushes For Mandatory Cursive Curriculum, Again

WFYI – Megan Powell

“Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, continues the fight to place cursive writing back into the curriculum after the Indiana Department of Education made cursive optional in 2011. Wednesday afternoon, the Education and Career Development committee met to discuss Senate Bill 73. If passed, this bill would add cursive writing back into the elementary curriculum for third and fourth grade as well as mandating reading cursive…As Indiana keeps debating SB 73, about half dozen states have made the move already to make cursive writing mandatory. “It’s very important for children to write in cursive because they won’t be able to read historic documents,” Amanda Krause, elementary student teacher, said. Leising asked members of the committee to look at the issue, not only looking at the issue on a state level, but on a global platform. She said Mexico recently reinstated cursive writing in their curriculum.”(more)

Third party, curriculum-based testing, the wave of the future?

Third party, curriculum-based testing, the wave of the future?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Studies suggest that the process of preparing for and taking a test can enhance learning and information retention. Research also confirms that testing can be a useful assessment tool.


Recently there has been a great deal of discussion of the pros and cons of various types of testing. Because money, college admissions, and careers are tied to testing, it is difficult to separate facts from marketing rhetoric.


There are three basic types of tests: 1) tests prepared by teachers, 2) curriculum-based tests prepared by others (third party, curriculum-based testing), and 3) standardized tests.


Tests prepared by teachers have little standardization. These tests can cover class lectures, material from books or learning aids, homework, projects, behavior, and other things. While this type of flexibility makes teaching interesting, it does not assure a student has mastered the required material. In fact, it is difficult for school management to know how much students have learned until they enter the next grade level.


For this model to work well good teachers must be retained for many years, since the consequences of poor teaching do not show up for at least a year (in some cases many years if a student has a string of underperforming teachers).


The second type of test is a curriculum-based test that is prepared and administered by a third party. These tests provide unbiased data on teacher and student performance. If these tests are administered quarterly, teachers can use the data to adjust lesson durations (spend more or less time on subjects) and identify students who need extra reinforcement on specific concepts. Early identification of student strengths and weaknesses means remediation can begin early. With targeted help and focused teaching, more students can master the required material by the end of the year. This data also helps school management coach and place teachers based on strengths and weaknesses.


The last type of testing is standardized testing. Standardized testing can provide information in baseline proficiency in some subjects. These tests are best used for topics with little ambiguity. For example, grammar and mathematics are easily tested using standardized methods. Unfortunately, standardized testing does not provide specific information that can be used to improve day-do-day classroom instruction or provide data on whether schools are building a foundation that prepares students for advanced learning.


While all types of testing are helpful, more focus on third party curriculum-based testing would be a way to improve learning outcomes quickly.


Arts Education Is Growing in NYC Public Schools

Hyperallergic – Carey Dunne

“Art classes are often the first to be sacrificed from school curriculums when budgets get cut — which makes the 2014–15 New York City Department of Education “Annual Arts in Schools Report” a welcome bit of good news for young artists in the five boroughs. According to the report, arts education in New York City public schools expanded in 2015…“In today’s city, with issues of inequality all around us, the question of providing equal opportunity for a quality arts education transcends education. It is an issue of justice,” the report’s conclusion reads. “The arts, and the qualities and skills the arts build, offer young people a path to literacy, the ability to qualify for good jobs in the new economy, a sense of empathy for other views and other people, and the hope of becoming involved and productive citizens. An education without the arts is an education that handicaps rather than enables.””(more)

Cyberbullying must be part of B.C. curriculum, teacher development: watchdogs

The Toronto Star – Laura Kane

“British Columbia’s privacy and children’s watchdogs are urging the province to make cyberbullying education a mandatory part of the school curriculum and teacher development. Privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham and children’s representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond submitted a joint report to the B.C. legislature on Friday, calling for a co-ordinated, cross-ministry strategy to prevent online harassment. “The high-profile suicides of recent years of Canadian teenagers — including B.C.’s Amanda Todd — appeared to be a response to particularly vicious cyberbullying,” the report said. “These tragic cases, and many other instances of exploitation of young people, have brought the issue of cyberbullying to the forefront of public consciousness.” Todd, 15, took her life at her Port Coquitlam home in 2012 after an explicit photo of her was shared on Facebook. The report highlights her case, as well as that of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, who killed herself in 2013 after a picture circulated of her alleged sexual assault. The report, which included first-hand input from youth, calls for action from B.C.’s education and justice ministries, social media companies, Internet providers and parents.”(more)

How to Course Correct STEM Education to Include Girls

EdTech – Sylvia Libow Martinez

“In a perfect world, all people would have equal opportunity to achieve their professional goals. But the reality is not perfect for women in the workforce. In many science, technology, engineering and math fields, especially in engineering and programming, women are under­represented…Many schools have found success in helping more girls through STEM courses. We know what works: role models, mentors, encouragement and special opportunities. But schools can do more to make STEM courses more accessible for all students. Introduce real-world topics, real research, real projects, real tools and tangible technology to STEM subjects. That attracts not only girls but any students who are uninterested in dry textbook science…While changing deeply embedded culture and established curriculum may seem like an impossible challenge, it’s something that simply has to be done.”(more)