Saturday, March 21, 2009

Can You Use Someone Else's Curriculum?

by Nicole Ouellette

My sister is an elementary school teacher. To me, that makes her an automatic saint, no documented miracles necessary.

She is also a young teacher in a small school and moves around grade wise: first rate last year, second grade this year, and third grade next year. I asked her about a recent teacher in-service day. "At least I got my math curriculum done," she said "you know, for the next teacher." And that got me to thinking about curriculums as usable documents.

Flashback to the experiences of my friends becoming teachers. Some entered classrooms where the retired teacher had left behind binders and file cabinets full of their "curriculum", presumably for them to use. Being young and overwhelmed, in the end most of it ended up being tossed out. On one hand, this is certainly a shame to have all that work gets thrown out but on the other, who wants to shift through someone else's organizational logic or stream of conscious thought? I certainly wouldn't.

To me the only way a curriculum is usable by more than one person is if it's very general and able to fit within a few typed pages. I would tend to look online for ideas for lesson plans but in general I want to plan on going to teach a concept myself. The fact that I would have to teach meteorology in April? No problem. The fact that I have to use what I think is your crappy lesson on clouds? Not so much.

(Come to think of it, all I wanted in the last school I worked in was to look at the school's curriculum and for two years I asked. I've still never seen it.)

Do any of your schools use a curriculum in a real way? If so how can we best share it amongst other teachers and with the public?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Inquiry Based Science Lesson: Bangor 3-20-09

by Ron Smith

Session Link:

Google Sites Web Page

Response Question:

You have now performed an inquiry-based activity and explored information about inquiry-based learning in science.

What do you think makes a lesson inquiry based?
What can you change in the science activities you do with a class to move them from closed to directed to open inquiry?

Make a list of criteria important to include in an inquiry-based science activity.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rainforest Project at Mountain Valley Middle School

I'm thoroughly enjoying working with Lindsay MacMillan's 7th grade science classes today. Final projects will include an iMovie, so today we are showing the kids how to import video and then will be giving them a short introduction to editing and video grammar.

Lindsay started the classes by showing a very short Discovery Education video on bio-diversity and then had very effective discussions with her classes on what was good and what wasn't so good in the video construction in preparation for the students making their own videos.

They are also making great use of their MLTI laptops to do research on a variety of issues relating to the rainforests. MARVEL - Maine's Virtual Library - is a great resource for this work.

Lindsay MacMillan's Great Rainforest Resources Portaportal

Rainforest resources at LIM wiki

Video 1

Video 2