Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘syllabus’

So…What Exactly Should Curriculum Planning Look Like – for 2017/18? (Part 02)

In Curriculum, ELT and ELL, Our Schools, Our Universities, The Paradigm Debate on 22/10/2017 at 12:35 am

Urbanski Quote

Have you ever done a blog post that totally leads people down the garden path – then promises to make up for it by saying that Part 2 will be more focused, useful and better-written?

Have you ever forgotten to write that Part 2?

Whoops!

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So, as I was saying – ELT has been using this ridiculous, ‘best practice’ model for curriculum-developing and syllabus-making for over 40 years (teachers have also incorporated it into their lesson-planning)!

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 09 TG

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It just don’t work…and we have (in our heart of hearts) known this for years!

Why not?

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Well, it ain’t that hard to work out:

Screaming Teacher

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OK, OK – I get that when we look at our ‘content’, we get pretty scared:

Curric Content

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We can panic about much of this ‘content’ we have to ‘cover’ in the limited time we have available with our learners – especially, if we are also working in an EGAP or EAP context:

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Academic Literacy

Academic Literacy is a total bi’ach to plan for!

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Covey Quote

But, the solution is NOT to ignore the learner…it is to make sure we put the learner at the heart of our decision-making.

Wiggins and McTighe Quote 2

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We have to recognise that more of the same is not the solution…

Do Different ZAMANI

Indeed, we just have to listen to some of the ELT Jedi Masters (although they may be few in number)…

ELT Jedi Masters

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Recognising the power of questions…

Mackenzie Quote

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Wiggins and McTighe gave use a new planning model with 3 phases:

OUTCOMES

ASSESSMENT

IMPLEMENTATION

…and gave use us 3 disarmingly-simple questions to help us get it right!

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The first of these drew attention to the fact that learner outcomes (not teacher inputs) are here to stay – and, if we are to have a hope in hell of expanding and improving student learning and success, we have to begin with the end in mind or recognise that curriculum-developing needs to begin where it ends – with the learning of individual students.

Backwards Model (1st questions) 2

That’s the essence of the job, guys – always has been!

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The second phase has frequently raised a few eyebrows – because we, so often, just tag on assessment at the end of the learning process. We forget that, for students, assessment IS the curriculum!

Backwards Model (2 questions) 2

Come on! How many times have you heard a student say:

“Hocam, that was a great lesson! I loved the way you combined the 21st century skills of critical thinking and collaboration with a truly communicative, task-based activity based on a meaningful information gap…and the way you supported us with just-in-time instruction and helped with all that emergent vocabulary and lexis – you are a great teacher…I love you”!

How many times have you heard this one?

“Hocam – will this be on the test…or what”?

You get the point…

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The fact is that if a teacher really knows and understands the nature of the assessment processes and tools that students need to engage with (and these are more than simplistic, high-stakes, multiple-choice tests) they can create lessons that promote more of a learning-driven culture…where learners welcome the type of formative feedback that helps them grow and succeed.

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Backwards Model (all 3 questions) 2

The final phase is where teachers can get creative – developing a lesson (or series of lessons) that both meets student needs and is engaging and, dare I say it, useful! Rather than starting with a textbook (and following up with content-driven and activity-driven lessons), we design learning opportunities and tasks that can make a difference…and be fun!

Surely, I do not have to sell this any harder…it just makes so much sense!

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OK, I may have simplified things a wee bit – but just jump back to Part 01 and tell me this is not an improvement…that this approach can’t help us deal with the challenge identified by Rogers…over 35 years ago!

Rogers Quote 1982

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So…What Exactly Should Curriculum Planning Look Like – for 2017/18? (Part 01)

In Curriculum, ELT and ELL, Our Schools, Our Universities, The Paradigm Debate on 22/07/2017 at 7:37 am

Blog Post (Curric) Image 01 220717

I know, I know…most of us are still on holiday…but I am sure there are a few of us out there that are (already) experiencing anxiety about some of the tasks we have to complete when we get back to the factory floor. Especially, if a new textbook was selected just before the semester ended…

Do NOT worry…I am here to help you get over that anxiety and give you the PERFECT curriculum planning toolshiriously!

Blog Post (Curric) Image 02 220717

…and it won’t cost you any more than the price you paid for this blog post!

 

Blog Post (Curric) Image 03 220717

As with any planning system, we need to decide on the key concepts that will guide us – and I have found, as we are in ELT, that 3 work wonderfully:

PLANof course!

IMPLEMENTbecause we have to take stuff into the classroom!

TESTwell, just because…we love doing this! OK…we want to check what has been learned!

 

The first of these steps is sooooooo easy…and involves 3 more mini-steps – take a gander:

Blog Post (Curric) Image 04 220717And, here’s you getting all worked up during your holiday! Most of you have already done mini-step 01 (hey, some of you might even be using Headway…even though the authors died 10 years back)! The key, however, is mini-step 03 – once you have the pacing guideline (the weekly ‘checklist’ of stuff to teach), you are more than halfway home. Indeed, if you work in a Curriculum Unit you can start planning your holiday for July 2018!

 

Now, the teacher steps up to the plate – ready to breathe life into the wonderful documents you have created.

What do they need to do?

Again…easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy:

Blog Post (Curric) Image 05 2207173 more mini-steps even a burger-flipper at McDonalds can execute! Again, the trick here is to make sure you stay on track…covering every activity (except those pesky ‘pronunciation boxes’ and maybe that last ‘speaking task’after all, who needs them…and besides…you’ve run out of time)!

 

 

Blog Post (Curric) Image 07 220717

Ahhh, now we come to the home stretch…because we all know that ‘assessment’ is really the ‘curriculum’ for every single student. I mean…come on…have you ever heard a student say, ‘Hocam, that was a wonderful lesson – I loved the way you blended those two Learning Outcomes with the notion of critical thinking and creativity through that truly authentic and communicative information gap task’!

Voilà – this is how:

Blog Post (Curric) Image 06 220717

3 final mini-steps even the most mathematically-challenged ELT teacher could follow (with a calculator and a pre-prepared spreadsheet)! OK, OK…that last one can be tough on the old heart-strings… ‘but I did warn you to study more and not play with that bloody phone of yours so much’!

AND, that…ladies and gentlemen…is how you do it!

 

Tried and tested all over the globe – a model that has found its way into…

Blog Post (Curric) Image 08 220717

…and I gave it you HERE…for:

Blog Post (Curric) Image 09 220717

Life doesn’t get better than that…for a teacher (and that means most of us) on a salary less than 50% of what she is worth!

 

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 09 TG

Well, as a great Jedi…sorry…Reiki Master told me,

‘You get what you pay for’!

What does it mean to “UNcover” a CURRICULUM? (Pt 06)

In Classroom Teaching, Curriculum on 09/10/2012 at 8:37 am

Yes…ME…”Mr. Question” himself…was asking the wrong bloody question…all the way through this mini-series!

Yep…the bloke who has been saying:

…for ages!

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The same geezer who has been talking about a questioning culture – and has not been answering the questions you want him to answer…because he became a “disciple” of Peter Block so many bloody years ago!

Peter…like me…just “hates” (OK – that may be an over-statement) the quick “fix” approach to LEARNing:

…the approach that so many schools, colleges and universities seem to have adopted over the years!

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But, let’s stick with individual TEACHers for a moment…so much more “fun”!

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In Pt 03, I told you about Krissy (aka @ktvee)well, I went back to her blog after finishing up Pt 05…and saw that she had modified her poster on Classroom A and Classroom B to this:

What she was doing here was “adapting” or “evolving” her own thunking about TEACHing…about LEARNing – like all good TEACHers…she does this a lot!

AND…does it very publicly (like all good bloggers).

She was also emphasising that her “description” of Classroom A and Classroom B…was not meant to be seen as a Sith “either-or-option (something I might be accused of)!

…but rather was trying to reinforce the idea that we all need to be looking for “Classroom C” – the classroom that captures the “spirit” of what UNcovering your CURRICULUM…is meant to be.

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The key, Krissy tells us is, is to “DEFINE YOUR CLASSROOM”:

 

When I look at TEACHers like Krissy, I don’t just see a great TEACHer with a great blog (with some even greater graphics – you know, I luvs me graphics too) – I see some thunking, some principles…some choices:

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CHOICE #1

…about the type of LEARNing that will be co-created in the classroom. A clue – it is NOT one of the “red” ones!

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CHOICE #2

…about the perspective we take on what curriculum is really all about. And, one that moves on from just “having a perspective on curriculum”to “TAKING a CURRICULUM PERSPECTIVE”.

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CHOICE #3

…about the way we “do business” in the classroom. Erica says it all!

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These CHOICES are not “quick fixes”…these are not “magic bullet recipes” for “UNcovering your CURRICULUM”

…they are CHOICES that matter!

What does it mean to “UNcover” a CURRICULUM? (Pt 05)

In Classroom Teaching, Curriculum on 07/10/2012 at 11:39 am

NO….I did not ask all those questions in Pt 04 of this mini-dizi just to give you a headache!

Honest…

 

I did it to show that many institutions (even some of the so-called “EDUhigh-fliers”) have a long way to go to really help their TEACHersUNcover the CURRICULUM. They simply have not made the “paradigm jump” (and sorry for what you are about to look at below, again)…that would make their TEACHers’ jobs a lot easier…a lot more fulfilling and satisfying!

 

Till they do…it falls to individual TEACHers!

 

I know that I am sometimes a wee bit too cerebral (hence all the piccies of grey matter) – I know some people get a bit annoyed that I “ask” far more than I “answer”.

 

But…when I started this series I actually promised meself that I’d make it really “practical” – you know, focus on practical ways that TEACHers could LEARN about UNcovering their own CURRICULUM…

…as I noted in Pt 02, more people just use the phrase…rather than talk about how they do it…in practice (or so I thought)!

 

So, what I did was put a call out…to the tweetiverse:

…my darling wife is always telling me to send out more “positive energy” and “requests” to the tweetiverse…more often…or was that “universe” she was talking about?

 

Ne se…I got a number of responses:

 

I also received a fair few e-mails with some suggestions:

ALL…brilliant ideas!

 

…but still the hashtag (#UNcoveryourcurriculum) was getting pretty “lonely”. So…I decided to hit up a few members of my tweetiverse PLN…with direct messages (DMs) – DMs “begging” for ideas…

The begging worked…sort of:

…wot to do?

 

I had a deadline…and the best I could manage was a couple of brains (brains that people really did not like to look at – at all)! They were gonna “hate” me again!

 

…@whatedsaid to the rescue!

Ed (and her “gang”) and I had swapped a couple of mails…and I had vented my frustration that “nobody” was actually saying what they do to UNcover their CURRICULAR!

She corrected me…gave me a bunch of links.

 

Then it dawned on me (told you I can be a bit thick from time to time)…LOADS of people are talking about it! It’s just that they do not link their ideas to that sexy, sexy phrase!

…Ed even reminded me that “I” do it all the time!

 

You see…

…and “sharing” – over coffee with other TEACHers, in the blogosphere…on the tweetiverse!

 

I’d become so bloody obsessed with a “wordbite”…that I was missing the whole bloody point! I had been asking the wrong question…

Me thunks…I need a Pt 06!

What does it mean to “UNcover” a CURRICULUM? (Pt 04)

In Classroom Teaching, Curriculum on 05/10/2012 at 3:10 pm

As we saw in Pt 03UNcovering your CURRICULUM is all about…

TEACHing for LEARNing

b

Let me elaboratewith the help of a couple of friends!

When a TEACHer starts to UNcover his CURRICULUM we see a rush of collocations and synonyms that we do not typically associate with Classroom A:

The TEACHer in Classroom B is NOT about…

TEACHing for COVERage

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She gets really angry when others try to force her to “just” focus on:

…and you really wouldn’t like her when she’s “angry”!

 

As we said – it IS all about TEACHers!

Most “UNcovering” is done in the classroom (why do you think we TEACHers get in trouble for “exposing” our students to everything left, right and centre) – what TEACHers “know” and what they “do with” what they know is almost as important as who they “are”! 

BUT…we all have to work with a CURRICULUM, of some sort – and this is why I asked the question I asked right at the start of this post:

 

OK – so here’s the deal…let me give you 5 minutes to dig out yours…yes, I know you might call it a syllabus (or even a “pacing guide”) – but pull it out, anyways!

Got it?

Sitting comfortably?

Let’s begin…

 

Well, just before that – could I ask:

We’ll come back to these – promise!

 

So, take a couple of minutes to shake the dust off it…sorry…flick through it.

Now, ask yourself this:

 If not, you is so lucky – do not leave that institution!

 

Otherwise…and like most of us…you are probably thunking…and whispering…

 …under your breath!

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You see…most institutions do not operate in the way you might assume (from looking at the things they “say” about themselves on their websites…and the brochures they send out to parents)!

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…to have to “pop” that little bubble!

 

If all schools, colleges and universities really caredand I mean “really cared”…about their LEARNers (and TEACHers), they would operate with a curriculum framework that would allow all of us to answer:

…to the following questions:

 

And then…

…TEACHers would also KNOW how the institution KNOWS these things …as well as KNOWıng that the institution checks in with LEARNers them on a regular basis!

 

There are a couple of questions that highlight the need for this information in a user-friendly way (LEARNers are users, too):

 

However,there is another critical factor:

 

BUT…this is the ONE:

 

…rather than their “rankings” or how many of their students out-did those “other guys” in the various high-stakes or do-or-die tests we are forced to take these days!

What does it mean to “UNcover” a CURRICULUM? (Pt 03)

In Classroom Teaching, Curriculum on 05/10/2012 at 8:25 am

I used that imageClassroom A and Classroom B – in a recent post. However, that time I was focussing on whether the “type” of classroom impacted how effectively EdTECH would be adopted – by the TEACHers in that classroom.

Yes, it was really about the TEACHerit still really about the TEACHer, when we talk about UNcovering the Curriculum

I borrowed that image from Krissy (aka @ktvee in the tweetiverse) and recently she did a post entitled – Beyond the Curriculum – yes, you guessed it…you have a reading assignment!

Go onclick on the link (above) to the post…it will take you TWO minutes…and I promise (cross my heart and hope to drop dead) my post will not be as “long” as my last one!

 

Nice post, yes? Wouldn’t you love to be a kid in that Classroom B!

 

OK – so just one, tweeny-weeny question:

 

…well, maybe just one moreWhy does she NOT say this:

 

TEACHers, like Krissy, just do not say things like this:

…TEACHers like Kath, too!

 

TEACHers, like Krissy and Kath, believe certain things…have principles like:

…and walk-their-talk…like Ed!

 

See…I did promise this post would not be that long!

 

If we are talking about UNcovering our CURRICULUM, surely we need to take a look at the “nature” of the curriculum that lets TEACHers (like Krissy, like Kate, like Ed….like YOU) do what they do even better!

See you soon!

What does it mean to “UNcover” a CURRICULUM? (Pt 02)

In Classroom Teaching, Curriculum on 02/10/2012 at 12:40 pm

Technically, I guess I should not really call this Pt 02 – you see, I’m just checking in to see how the “googling” is going!

I gave you some questions to thunk over in Pt 01…but I would never ask anyone to do something that I would not do myself – so I thought I’d share a few of the little gems that my own “cruising” threw up.

 

There were one or two that really got me thunking about the whole issue of UNCOVERing

…I liked this a lot and the whole notion of clarity is a biggie for all of us. But, I’m thunking the second bit of Nick’s idea is just as important – if not more so!

 

The problem was that I kept digging up a lot of less positive thunks…from TEACHers talking about the whole issue of COVERing the curriculum.

Like this one – for example:

I’m guessing Cris is not alone in thunking like this…and why, oh why so many institutions and systems put their TEACHers into the “educational rat race” is totally beyond me!

 

The thing is…there are bigger concerns:

Akevy really brings this home, too…

…why do we keep on doing things like this?

Now, if you are anything like me…you will have also uncovered some more…far worrying…”comments”…

…comments that perhaps made you feel like “Al” (it was a great performance though – you gotta admit that – noone can play the “Devil” like Pacino)!

Those of you that know me (in the real world) know that I am a pretty patient guytolerant even! I’ve even been called a good listener…on occasion!

BUT “silly” statements like that are really just like…

..for me – especially with my blogging hat on!

So, what do you think I felt when I saw this?

Al’s face kinda says it all really…Actually, something like this was one of the things I heard during one of my very first “orientation programmes” when I was a younger teacher…really!

All I can say is…

…and, while we are on the subject:

Must….must fight…must fight urge…to RANT!

The GOOD NEWS is…that there are more of us out there than you would imagine…more of us that see the value of the Jedi Path…in education.

OK, maybe not “those” guys…but educators that say:

And, then…

Even…

…while watching “When Harry Met Sally“!

If you like these ideas…you’re on the right corner of the blogosphere!

your googling has probably highlighted the fact that while there are lots of bloggers out there that dig the sexy phrase we are looking at in this mini-series, there are not many thunks on “how” to “do” it – on how we UNCOVER our CURRICULUM!

This is what we’ll be doing in Pt 03 and Pt 04

See you later!

What does it mean to “UNcover” a CURRICULUM? (Pt 01)

In Classroom Teaching, Curriculum on 30/09/2012 at 2:40 pm

OK – here’s a quick task (yes, I know it’s a Sunday…and you’re already thunking about tomorrow’s lessons and the “new” textbook that you ain’t been able to review properly – but indulge me)…

 

Place the word “curriculum” (or “curricular”) in the centre of your mind’s eye…and, think about all the synonyms that spring to mind.

Do this for about 30 seconds…

Now, think about all the other words that collocate with this amazing word

…again, give yourself 30 seconds.

 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most of you probably thunked of around 50% of the words and phrases below:

  • (core) standards
  • assessment
  • content
  • course
  • course outline
  • coversheet
  • deliver
  • exam (or test)
  • information
  • instruction
  • knowledge
  • lecture
  • lesson
  • materials
  • pacing document
  • plan
  • programme (or program)
  • schedule
  • subject (or discipline)
  • syllabus
  • textbook
  • unit (or module)

…and that less than 50% of you came up with this little bunch:

  • belonging (or community)
  • challenge
  • choice (or opportunity)
  • collaboration
  • engagement
  • LEARNacy
  • motivation
  • ownership (or freedom)
  • real LEARNing
  • student success
  • uncover the curriculum

Am I right or am I right?

 

Now, either I’m really smart…or just super good at Jedi Mind tricks!

Perhaps neither (ask my wife about that first one)! Maybe, we have all been seduced by the Dark Side – seduced into believing that a curriculum CAN, in fact, be delivered…just like a bloody newspaper!

And, it ain’t only Luke that has his hands tied!

 

Those of you that know the blog, will have picked up that I use that last phrase (from the second list) quite a lot – hell, I’ve taken the time to evolve a few of my graphics (even when the Olympics were on the telly)!

 

I’ve done a lot of posts that discuss how we, as teachers, need to explore our own beliefs and underlying assumptions about what curriculum really is…and should be! I’ve even committed serious acts of serial curriculum bloggery; writing, producing and directing whole mini-series on the perils of “pacing guidelines” – and how bad they are for our healthand the LEARNing of our students!

 

And…yes…I know you hate it when I use pictures of brains! Sorry…

 

However, whenever I chat to people about these things (and me stuff on the blog) – the one thing that sticks in their minds (apart from the Flash and his interview with Superman) is that phrase: 

I get it…it is a “sexy” phrase…the perfect wordbite!

 

The thing I haven’t really done is…UNcover the nature of the wordbite itself!

Mmmm, do this we will…in this mini series!

 

…I’m gonna make you “work” a bit – and by that I mean:

Homework Zamanı!

 

Before next time, google the phrase “UNcover the curriculum / syllabus” – and answer these with a “pal”:

 

Then, tackle this one:

…and talk about it with your “buddy”!

 

Next, and on your own this time – chew on these two for a while:

…and then, have a coffee (or çay) to compare notes – without cookies!

 

See you soon!