As the last blog post for my Issues and Trends in Curriculum class, we were asked to reflect on our book study and the multimodal book review we were tasked to create. Here’s my post:
During these four weeks of Issues and Trends in Curriculum, I have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge about critical literacy, digital literacy, and ultimately making sure to honor my students’ identities, histories, and experiences within the classroom. I was able to participate in a book study over Gerald Campano’s Immigrant Students and Literacy: Reading, Writing, and Remembering. During the course of the four weeks, we broke up the text into three parts, we created three critical thinking questions, discussed weekly a question from each person making connections, and ended with a multimodal book review culminating everything we had learned.
Prior to our book studies, we were asked to create a mindmap which centered on our current understandings of curriculum. We were asked to reflect on the following subtopics: student roles, student learning, how curriculum is determined, and curriculum design.
As you can see in figure one, I had a lot of ideas about curriculum, particularly with the focus that curriculum includes meaningful tasks that align with district initiatives and core standards. However, through this course and book study, I was able to learn that curriculum is about so much more.
Campano’s text acknowledged the pressures many teachers face to follow the mandates passed down to them, which may restrict the authentic learning experiences that occur in the classroom. Throughout this book, we are able to see examples of how he puts student experiences at the forefront of his classroom. He is also realistic and shares the struggles he faced in doing this. He demonstrates how we, as educators, can include culturally responsive teaching into our instruction making the learning engaging and worthwhile.
Teachers can feel caught between the pressures to conform and using their own judgments to improve the student learning occurring in their classrooms. These pressures may be related to testing or they may be due to colleagues feeling that particular strategies are better than others.
During our discussions, we acknowledge that assessments can be changed to better fit the diversity in our classrooms so that they are more appropriate for all students. Assessments mandated for teachers are not appropriate for all of our students. Some assessments also deliver the wrong message to students (i.e. FAST = read fast). How can we assess critical literacy? We discussed how maybe adding critical literacy into our assessments could change the nature of the assessment and the focus in the classroom curriculum. Multimodal assessments could prove to be valuable. Having a choice in how information is presented allows students to express their learning in a way that is meaningful to them. Teachers can provide rubrics, single-point even, where the “I can” statements are present and the level of mastery is documented. There is power to student reflections, authentic assessments, and discussions. We want to make sure we’re giving everyone the opportunity to show the extent of their learning.
We also reflected on our own instruction during these discussions. Students’ experiences and struggles have guided our teaching in the past. It influenced our lessons. Because our view of being “literate” has changed, our instruction will change. Rather than being a skill, we now see “literate” as being the ability to use literacy to “read the world” or be an “agent of change”. Literacy can be used as a means to “unsilence” our students, giving them a voice and an outlet to express themselves.
We acknowledge that we each have life stories determined by the experiences we’ve had. Our life histories affect our teaching. We see things from various perspectives in school based on our own life stories. It is important to understand that our teaching philosophies, teaching habits, ways we communicate with families, and how we respond to students are affected by our life histories.
Based on all of these incredible insights we determined that we are all educational activists, but we can be better. It starts with having the courage to make a change in order to do what’s best for kids. this can be hard to do but is something that is important.
Wow! All of these discussions and reflections really changed the way that I look at curriculum. In figure 2 you can see that my curriculum mindmap exploded!
My knowledge about curriculum encompasses so much more than it had prior to this class. Some of the main ideas that I now include in my understanding of curriculum are: teaching students to have empathy and mutual understanding of others, making sure students build upon their identities, histories, and cultures, and having multicultural literature that goes beyond single stories.
Using all of this knowledge, our book study group used padlet for our multimodal book review. I had never used padlet before but will use it again in the future because it flowed together so seamlessly. Here is the link to our multimodal book review: https://padlet.com/denboea/ctztnfhgmy60. This really culminated all of the knowledge gained in these four short weeks so well.
I’m really looking forward to this school year and having the opportunity to incorporate all of this knowledge into my own classroom. I know it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
Campano, G. (2006). Immigrant students and literacy: Reading, writing, and remembering. London: Teachers College Press.