Circle Reports – Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch.

John F. Kennedy

The Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment circle presented their findings to the Breaking Ranks committee on Tuesday and one single word prevailed time. As we moved through slides that covered 21st Century Learning, NEASC recommendations, and research on scheduling, one thing was clear, we need more time. Time to integrate the new skills that the 21st Century Learning groups and Massachusetts have identified as crucial to our students. Time to integrate project based learning and interdisciplinary lessons. Time to meet in professional learning communities (PLCs) or with students in advisory periods. Time became the answer to our questions on how to improve curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and in doing so time became our biggest question.

Obviously addressing time means addressing the schedule. We looked at various scheduling models (4X4 block, trimesters, Copernican, modular) and realized that this type of decision requires more research and more voices than a seven person committee. We acknowledge that longer blocks of time are in our future, but we can’t say how these longer time periods will be structured. Longer blocks of time mean different things to each subject and each discipline’s needs must be carefully considered.

Outside of the time issue we explored the integration of 21st Century Learning skills into our academic and social expectations. The state of Massachusetts has adopted a 21st Century Learning model and expectations are that they will begin to embed these skills in future versions of the curriculum frameworks. In order to ensure that we are addressing these new expectations we agreed that we should begin to integrate these new skills directly our learning expectations. 21st Century skills are not technology skills, even though technology is a component. They are life long learning skills that address communication, collaboration, independence, responsibility, problem solving, and creativity. These are skills that have been identified as integral parts of existing in a global society.


~ by breakingranks on April 3, 2008.

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