Connecting to Profesional Communities – Overview – GDPI 810

Hello world!

Would you possibly have a look at my blog or my Prezi course output, and reflect on your opinions relating to the content of the course?

I have recently taken part in a course about Conceptions of Curriculum, Philosophy and Assessment as part of the Graduate Diploma in Professional Inquiry at Queen’s University, Kingston Ontario.

Throughout the course I was exposed to many different historical developments relating to curriculum. There are 5 main conceptions of curriculum which link to different styles of assessment as well as being rooted in different educational philosophies, historically.

humanistic/learner centred

  • rooted in the idea that students should first know who they are and are based on personal liberation through character development
  • progressive philosophy base including existentialism and reconstructionism
  • organic curriculum design
  • rich assessment tasks are transdisciplinary

social reconstruction

  • a movement towards social reform to better society as students become agents of change
  • pragmatic philosophical base leading to reconstructionism
  • the curriculum is based on the needs of society and on social problems
  • assessment does not focus on subject content, instead on social issues; students are encouraged to invent new ways of thinking and assessment by challenging their mindsets

technology * recently considered interconnected with others in todays day and age

  • seeks to make learning efficient through the presentation of data; there is little focus on the learner, more on the information being presented
  • perennialism philosophical base
  • learners are guided through a carefully sequenced set of curriculum guidelines
  • straight-forward assessment with output from the course content through short answers or essays


  • rooted in historical and scholarly ideas and is best for learning the large questions that drive academic proficiency in the core subjects
  • traditional philosophy of essentialism, idealism and realism
  • curriculum focuses on single subject design
  • assessment uses large scale testing through forms like multiple choice and short answer


  • identifies the interactive relationship between the goals of learning and cognitive process one takes to meet the learning objectives; aims to sharpen students intellectual process.
  • philosophies of perennialism and realism
  • curriculum is derived from scientific evidence about how students can best learn
  • performance based assessment give students the opportunity to demonstrate their extensive or elaborate thought process to meet their final product

This is only a rough outline of the ideas that are displayed in a Prezi I made for the course. Would you have a look and let me know how you feel about the different curriculum conceptions, or which one relates to your teaching practice now?

In my particular context of practice I use more of a humanistic approach to learning in my primary classroom of 7-8 year olds.  However, I have found that after reflecting on on my learning about conceptions of curriculum for the past few months, I noticed significant overlaps in teaching pedagogy.  I am interested in learning more about how I can use the best teaching practices for my context.



Options for English Language Learners

I read Options for English Language Learners by Liliana Minaya-Rowe (School Administrator, v65 n10 p16-17 Nov 2008. 2pp ISSN 0036-6439).

The American-centred article highlights gaps in the English language academic proficiency in the USA and outlines different school programs for English Language Learners:

  • Two-Way Bilingual Programs: These programs give equal status to two languages and begin in the primary grades and have a long continuum aimed at long term participation until the completion of high school.
  • Transitional Bilingual Education Programs: The language of instruction begins in the home language and then the amount of English language instruction increases gradually over the primary school years, shifting towards all-English classes in later schooling.
  • Monolingual Programs: This is an English-only instructional program and is prevalent in schools where the ELL population is highly diverse.
  • Sheltered English/Content-based English as a Second Language: Students are grouped away from native English speakers to focus on academic content and vocabulary aimed at providing a more solid understanding of homeroom concepts.
  • ESL pull-out/push-in programs: The goal of these programs it English language fluency, not content mastery. There is reduced access to the full content of the curriculum.
  • Newcomer programs: These types of programs address short-term needs for recent immigrants who essentially need to expedite their English language learning.

Minaya-Rowe finishes the article by stating that school districts need to choose the most effective program to meet the needs of their own student population.

After reading this article, I have had difficulty deciding what method my school in Guangzhou, China uses. The different programs seem to overlap. We have a monolingual program that is based on an English-only instructional model. However we have four streamed Chinese classes for all of primary. We have an ESL beginner pull-out program that focuses on language fluency and students miss out on aspects of the main curriculum. We also have some collaboration between EAL teachers and homeroom teachers (in my grade because I push for it). So there is a small version of a sheltered program for the ‘intermediate’ language learners. I hope that my school can move towards a more integrated language program that focuses on content-based instruction. I think this is the best way to go for my school because we are heavily focused on content in our every-day instruction with our Primary Years Program (PYP) curriculum. Students really miss out if they don’t understand the 20 buzz-words for that unit. Our central ideas for units are quite elaborate sometimes and go in-depth with explicit description with words like perspective, point of view, survive, responsibility, communication, etc. I feel this will better assist them to master academic proficiency.

My questions are:

What types of language programs do you have at your school?

Which program listed here do you think would be best for your school?

Have you seen a bilingual program work well – and what aspect of it do you think made it functional?

Advertise the GDPI

In order to get even more enrolment in the GDPI course, the advertised information needs to be attention grabbing and attractive.   If the advertisement for it isn’t interesting (and possibly looks outdated) then it’s not going to attract clientele. People who want to take online courses expect the newest technology and computer proficient professors. The following informative videoes are informative but not really gripping.  If the content of the GDPI is presented in the same way as this webinar it’s not really advertising cutting-edge educational techniques. I had reservations about signing up because the advertising was mediocre. Thankfully I gave it a try and I’m happy with the program so far!

This one is on the right track, but could have some upbeat tweaks like music. An introduction to more concrete course content would be very helpful, also.

I suggest using Powtoon with their free “Teacher Introduction to a Syllabus” template including a similar voice over and some upbeat music.  This template looks great for the job with it’s simple graphics and school related theme. If we as course participants are expected to use, inquire, and grow our professional awareness with new technology, I think it would be nice if the program leaders could be lead by example.  Powtoon, or even a Prezi document would create a dynamic presentation and spark interest.

Prezi is an excellent visual representation of data, and in my mind is way better than a voice over to dull powerpoint slides (as a method of direct communication). It’s important

The content in the first course I’m taking (GDPI 810) is engaging but navigating the course is a bit tricky, as it it totally different from Continuing Education (CONT Ed) courses I’ve taken (and am currently taking) within the same Desire2Learn (D2L) online learning platform.

Within the course, students are expected to use technology to present their learning in a dynamic visual way – the course advertisements should reflect that.  Especially since one of the electives I’d like to take is “Innovations in Technology”.

While I remain positive and support the development of the courses in the GDPI and realise it’s the first year of instruction, I wonder if more innovative and eye catching new-technology designs could be used to demonstrate content of the overall program, after all, personal inquiry and professional advancement is at the core of the course values. Onwards and upwards?  If they do it, I guarantee that  enrolment will increase.

Food for thought.