Based on your text and video resources in this module, what strategies do you (or would you) find most useful for evaluating curriculum? What strategies assist students in the transfer of learning to other classes and contexts? Be sure to reference your sources.
When I think about evaluations of any kind, I believe that they should be on-going. I believe that we can always improve on what we are doing. When I first started teaching, one of my administrators talked about curriculum as “Shelf Art”. He meant that we create it and then just leave it on the shelf. Curriculum is meant to be a dynamic document that could be changed all the time. Out of the models in the book, I related most to the CIPP model in Chapter 13 of our book. This model discusses “The process evaluation is the provision of periodic feedback while the curriculum is being implemented.”
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program has a built-in section for each Unit of Inquiry that asks the teachers to reflect on the learning after completing each unit. The reflection includes these two prompts: “Record a range of student-initiated inquiries and student questions and highlight any that were incorporated into the teaching and learning”, and “Record student-initiated actions taken by individuals or groups showing their ability to reflect, to choose and to act. ” The IB emphasizes the importance of all teachers to reflect on their units immediately after. Because we are inquiry-based, these prompts will allow the teacher to reflect on how much of the learning was student initiated.
The IB program also requires IB designated schools to complete a self-study year to allow the school community to reflect on their curriculum and how they are implementing the IB program. After the self-study year where all stakeholders are involved. The evaluation team then visits the schools to see if the self-study documents reflect what is really happening in the school. I love this idea because it starts the evaluation inside the school and then allows for outsiders to be invited in to see how curriculum is working.
The IB cumulative project in the Primary Years Program is called the Exhibition. The Exhibition is for students to work collaboratively in a group to study a problem that is in our society or in the world. The students research the project and find some action to take that will assist in solving the problem. The students should think globally but act locally. Although this is at the end of their elementary school careers, all teachers assist the students in preparing for their exhibition.
These IB tools should be used in conjunction with the state standardized tests. These tests should not be looked at as a snapshot because a snapshot only shows what a group of students accomplished in one grade level. These tests should be studied to determine if there are trends in the curriculum by following a group of students through the school years to determine if there are holes in the curriculum.
I agree that the transfer of knowledge creates learning at all grade levels. The IB schools must use transdisciplinary maps to show how all non-classroom teachers are engaging the students regarding their Unit of Inquiries. For all teachers to be instructing students on the Key Concepts of Form, Function, Causation, Connection, Change, Perspective, Responsibility and Reflection. This allows students to transfer their knowledge of these concepts in all aspect of the school. I am also a big believer in journals and reflections. All our students must reflect after every unit on what they learned about themselves and the topic during the unit. When I taught high school students, I noticed many students were surprised when they reflected on what they learned and didn’t realize how much they had done until after the lessons were completed.
Last year, we asked some of our 4th and 5th grade students to help us with a problem. We wanted to redesign the library. We wanted more room for meeting and reading. Students formed groups and came up with a new design. They had to measure the library and use a Computerized Architecture Design program to map out their new idea. The students were engaged and were able to transfer many math skills into an authentic learning experience.