Lessons Learned

Instructional Technology - International Education - Wellness

Tag: Curriculum

Using TPACK to Guide a 1:1iPad Pilot

TPACK articleI am working on an article with Mark and my wife Margaret looking at putting TPACK into practice working from the ICL perspective and not just technology. It reminded me that I did not share the article THE Journal published back in August where we share information on using TPACK in going 1:1. Hopefully the article provides some ideas as schools look to use TPACK and the curriculum collaboration process to support 1:1 initiatives. Here is the article.

Your Teaching and Learning Team

How is your student support team organized? Who is on the team? Are you providing mainly pullout, pull in and/or build in services? How is your professional development system connected to this team and their mission? There are many questions to ask when we step back and think about the best way to provide reinforcement, enrichment and an overall differentiated learning environment for our students.

Much of my focus the past few years has been on building a systematic approach to developing curriculum. One aspect of this approach is the formation of a team approach to build out units of study that incorporate ICL integration, differentiation of instruction and assessment, meeting school-wide goals, etc. Efforts by our learning support team at Alexandria Country Day School and a recent article in the Davidson Journal (Davidson College in NC) reminded me that we also should be looking at systems in how we support student learning outside the curriculum review process.

I remember back to the early 1990s at the American International School-Riyadh when we developed a student support system for the middle school. The team members included all the teachers, an administrator, the counselor and the learning support teachers. We created the structure of common meeting times for the two teams at each grade level. One day a week we discussed individual student learning needs while another day the focus was on curriculum.We used technology to record learning plans, goals, and results in the student information system. However, the librarian was not present in the meetings while the technology teacher visited to share his lessons and not so much as a collaborator in the curriculum process.

We were ahead of the curve in many ways but failed to make the connection between needing to bring more specialists on board not only for the curriculum but just as importantly for the learning support. The technology teachers and the librarians could have collaborated in both areas to make a difference for our students.

Returning to today, the article from the Davidson Journal explains how the college recently brought different groups of learning support teams together under one roof– the library. As so many of us write about, the library/media center/learning community should be at the center of one’s school/campus. It makes total sense to not just bring your technology specialists but also your other learning support teachers into the library. It also makes total sense to have your instructional technologist and teacher librarian as members of your learning support team when one creates a curriculum review system but also as partners in grade level/department meetings when creating learning support strategies.

An additional item to note is that this team is naturally skilled with “building in” learning support strategies to be added to the units in your curriculum mapping tool. By documenting strategies into your curriculum system to support struggling as well as students needing enrichment, you move away from the old “pullout” model of support. I learned from Dr. Mary Landrum and from my wife’s expertise as a GATE coordinator that the more we can collaborate with teachers to develop learning activities and assessments together, the more that they can pull learning strategies off “the shelf” of the curriculum tool to support students without calling for them to be pulled out of their classes. While Dr. Landrum teaches mainly about providing instruction for gifted students, her book Consultation in Gifted Education: Teachers Working Together to Serve Students provides a collaboration model that can be used to meet the whole spectrum of student needs.

And back to the question of how your professional development program is run, one hopes for teacher involvement in choosing topics as well as the teaching and learning team. This team’s engagement puts them in an excellent position to assess the instructional needs across the school. Who could be in a better position to drive what is in and how your PD program is managed?

I am rambling here but if you are interested in learning more about Davidson’s new program, I wrote a post for my school’s blog about the Davidson article and how our school was following the same model. Here is that post>


Davidson College is known as a very academic liberal arts college that is dedicated to supporting the craft of teaching by its professors. Davidson’s professors do research, write articles and books but their primary focus is on teaching. To support their efforts, as part of the strategic plan, Davidson in August opened its Center for Teacher and Learning (CTL) in the school library.

The connection to Alexandria Country Day School is that we also opened our Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) in August. What is striking in reading an article from the Fall 2011 Davidson Journal is how similar the two programs are. It demonstrates the forward thinking and student-centered nature of our administrators and TLC staff when we are mirroring the program of a college such as Davidson.

Central to the work of our TLC team members is the focus on collaboration with the classroom teachers. This partnership looking at how best to reach learning goals as well as meeting the individual student needs drives how the TLC teachers help design instruction and provide one to one support for our students.

An additional part of this “collaboration team” approach to supporting teaching and learning is the involvement of our instructional technologist, teacher librarian and director of technology. As part of the iPad pilot program the fifth grade teachers worked with our technology and library team members over the summer to review and adapt the fifth grade curriculum to further support the students in attaining skills for the 21st century. The curriculum was further adapted to meet the information, media, and visual literacy standards supported by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) along with the technology literacies published as the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for students. The collaboration team in January will be joined by members of the TLC as they review the sixth grade curriculum in preparation for next year and the continued roll “forward” of the iPad Pilot program.

The Davidson Journal article describes the same team effort of their Center for Teaching and Learning.

“(the CTL)…brings together these centers- along with the instructional technologists and information literacy librarians- to help students take a comprehensive approach to strengthening academic skills. The CTL also advises faculty who want to experiment with new teaching tools and to discuss different approaches to teaching.”

One might say that Davidson College is in good company with its pioneering efforts. 🙂

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Learning & Leading Article Follow UP

The editors of Learning and Leading with Technology are publishing in their current issue an article my wife and I authored entitled “All Aboard! Integrating Technology Through Curriculum Review”. It draws upon work at the Hong Kong International School Upper Primary between 2001-2005 to create a systematic way to review curriculum while integrating information and communication literacies (ICL).

Several of my posts the past few months offered questions for school leaders to think about as they develop their procedures for creating their own curriculum review system.

We edited down the current L & L article from a procedure paper that I wrote at the start of the process and added to as we improved the system over the years. Here is a link to that original paper which offers many “how to’s” and shares many of our take aways from developing the procedures.

Curriculum Review Procedure Paper

How to Shift When the Adminstrators Are Not Onboard? SOS Episode 16

I know I ramble but time is short and we have the podcast tonight. Here are some thoughts about the process of getting administrators onboard as we shift our schools…

Jeff has been running workshops on reviewing one’s school mission and I have been writing about how to integrate one’s mission and school-wide learning outcomes into everything you do in your school. So the first step is to work with one’s learning community to hire Jeff to come in and shake things up clearing off the table of outdated mission outcomes and opening up the discussion to what the community including students, parents and faculty believe in and value. Start with the basic questions of “what is learning and understanding?” and “What do our students need to learn?” and “How can we prepare them to be citizens skilled to handle a very changing world?”. I also like the idea of writing mission outcomes in the form of actions/skills/habits that are enduring and applicable to various situations. To say we want students to be “lifelong learners”, how about instead talking about the habits/skills of being critical thinkers and problem solvers that gives students the tools to be lifelong learners.  Hopefully one’s school will see the value of the the learning 2.0 constructs that folks are writing about and discussing in the edublogosphere to make them central to their vision statements.

Once the mission/vision is developed and action plans are created to integrate it into the school’s culture, the next step is develop curriculum, instruction and assessments that will get one’s students to learn the critical thinking, problem solving, cooperative and collaborative learning skills that are hopefully in the mission outcomes that also includes an inquiry driven approach to learning that engages the students in discussions and learning with individuals outside the school walls.

Really focus is on Stage 1 of McTigue and Wiggin’s UbD process for all the curriculum units. It all comes down to what the enduring understandings we are teaching to. Administrators must collaborate in the curriculum review process. The conversations and unpacking of the standards into the EUs is where we bring the administrators on board to constructivist, inquiry, student-centered learning. We have to be ready to have the critical conversations asking administrators how we are to reach our schools’ mission statements dedicated to teaching students critical thinking, problem solving and cooperative learning skills so that they can be global, information savvy citizens ready to adapt to the every changing world. If our administrators are charged to deliver the educational experience to reach the mission and habits for learning, get them to explain how we can do it in classrooms that where the curriculum being taught doesn’t support the schools’ new mission statement. As we move to Stage 2 to develop the assessments and Stage 3 to create the learning activities, the administrator in the curriculum meetings should start coming onboard as we come up with ways to use information literacy and technology to assess and teach the students.

So how does all of this happen without the administrator being on board? It doesn’t. The hope is that by going through this process that the reluctant or simply not getting the picture administrator buys into the process to support the mission that was created by the community. We also must take items off our adminstrators’ plates to allow them to be the instructional leaders in our schools. Less is more especially when it comes to empowering administrators to focus their time on decisions that support learning.

Participants: How to Create a Collaborative and Systematic Process for Curriculum Development and Review

This is the fourth post about how to develop a curriculum review system in one’s school. It deals with answering questions about who participates in the curriculum development process. Just as the first post on the big picture, these are questions for members of the community to work through before they begin designing their system.

All Participants:

1) Who will really own the entire curriculum process moving it from the start to the finish in the classroom?
2) Who will own and guide the professional learning community being formed via this process?

Classroom Teachers, Support Teachers (ESL, Instructional Technologist, Librarian, Learning Resource, GATE, etc.) and Elective/Arts Teachers:

3) How ready are teams/departments to divide up the units to be developed/reviewed by one or two grade level, team or department members but not by the whole group?
4) What specific roles should they fulfill in the reviewing process (e.g., facilitator, scribe, etc.)?
5) How far along is the curriculum in being differentiated to meet learning needs of all the students?
6) Which teachers are needed to help design the content, process and products for those different needs?
7) Who can help integrate the technology and information & communication literacies?
8) How interdisciplinary are your units?
9) What steps do you want to take to make them more interdisciplinary? How can the curriculum process help you do this? Who needs to lead out in this effort?


10) What do you need from your building principal? What is his/her role in the process?
11) How can the Curriculum Director support you and the entire process?
12) Which other administrators need to be involved in the curriculum development process? What are their roles in this process?

What other questions come to mind?

How to Infuse Information Literacy Skills Across the Curriculum? SOS Episode 16

We really have three essential questions for this show:

  • How to infuse information literacy skills across the curriculum?
  • Where does the use of technology fit into the information literacy picture?
  • How does a modern library media specialist fit into the shifting process?

The possible answers to these questions start with the library media specialist trained in using digital information tools as well as generative technologies for student sharing of their research. This individual is a leader in his/her school working with the instructional technologist as designers and collaborators in the curriculum review process to embed the various information & communication literacy (ICL) skills throughout the curriculum.

Time: How to Create a Collaborative and Systematic Process for Curriculum Development & Review

This is the third post about how to develop a curriculum review system in one’s school. It deals with answering questions about the culture of one’s school and how folks deal with change. Just as the first post on the big picture, these are questions for members of the community to work through before they begin designing their system.

1) How is your school year laid out for natural times to work on curriculum units?

2) When would be the best time to have the “big picture” meeting(s) to look at each subject area K-12 for scope and sequence?

3) How can technology lessen the number of meetings while supporting the strategic big picture planning?

4) What is your PD schedule for the year?

5) How can it be tied in to support the curriculum development process?

6) How can you use time during the day more effectively to support the learning communities working on curriculum?

7) What gets in the way of your teachers having time to share and reflect on student learning?

What other questions (and answers) come to mind?

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School Culture: How to Create a Collaborative and Systematic Process for Curriculum Development & Review

This is the second post about how to develop a curriculum review system in one’s school. It deals with answering questions about the culture of one’s school and how folks deal with change. Just as the first post on the big picture, these are questions for members of the community to work through before they begin designing their system.

1) How does your school make decisions?

2) Who is involved?

3) How does your school handle change?

4) What are strengths and weaknesses of your school culture?

5) How can you build on the strengths in (re)designing your system for curriculum creation and review?

6) How can you overcome or lessen the weaknesses?

7) How do your administrators and teachers value the curriculum in the grand scheme of things?

8) Where are you with your teaming and collaboration at grade levels and departments?

9) What is the level of trust in your teams?

10) How ready are they to divide up the units to be developed or reviewed by just a few team members?

11) What other questions (and answers) come to mind?

Curriculum Review and Collaboration

Image Source: Adopted from Johneric Advento’s revised version of Margaret Carpenter’s original diagram

Our Shifting Our Schools podcast as well as Jeff’s and my blogs along with countless other podcasts and blogs share ways to help educators make the shift from traditional style, teacher-directed classrooms to what we call the Learning or School 2.0 model. This “shift” with all its edublogger advocates is all about the change process which we know is quite difficult to manage and is not happening very quickly.

While I enjoy discussing the big picture and the big ideas, my practice as an instructional technologist is on the practical, in the classroom instruction and assessment strategies that help transform classrooms into 21st century learning communities.

My belief for bringing about this transformation is that schools must develop a curriculum and collaborative systematic model that becomes the mechanism for shifting our classrooms and our schools to the School 2.0 model. Sadly curriculum development carries an uncomfortable connotation for many educators. The reality is that the curriculum should be the driving force that guides so much of what we do to affect the learning for our students. If handled well, curriculum development as a part of an engaged and thriving learning community, can be an exciting process that shifts and transforms our schools. Obvious information but sadly we often put little thought into how we develop or follow through with our curriculum.

We often spoke about this on our SOS podcast with one show centered on the work of the International School Bangkok’s team of technology resource coordinators and literacy specialist. The ISB team constructed a curriculum development model and recently Kim Cofino created a collaboration flow chart that together nicely presents a model for other schools to review and possibly adopt and individualize to meet their needs.

Back to the practical… Kim will be presenting at the Learning 2.008 conference next week about the importance of curriculum and collaboration in bringing about the shift in our schools. After watching Kim’s slide show for her presentation, I remembered a workshop that I started to put together for another conference. It dealt with how a school learning community begins the process of designing their own curriculum and collaboration system. As I am not able to attend the Learning 2.008 conference, it makes sense to get the components for my workshop out there as a practical way to help support Kim’s and others’ efforts. Each school is different and whether one looks at the ISB model or the one we created at HKIS, the process for developing the model needs to start by engaging all the stakeholders in the discussion.

My next several posts will share the questions that teachers and administrators can use to start their discussion as they work to develop their own systematic way to review curriculum that integrates the instructional strategies, content, assessments and 21st century learning skills that will shift their schools to the Learning 2.0 model.

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