What is the New Curriculum?
It took me two days of intensive workshops, lectures and group interaction, at a hishtalmut this summer in order to begin to understand what the New Curriculum is all about. Just becoming friendly with the jargon (Until now, "standards" in my world have had to do with values, and "benchmarks" were names on the seats in synagogue during High Holiday services.) was a hard job. And I was one of the people that worked on a section of the CALL appendices of the new curriculum, mind you!!
So it's no wonder that most teachers are puzzled (to put it mildly) by this new-fangled New Curriculum. That's one reason we decided to devote a whole issue of the ETNI Newsletter to the subject.
Perhaps if you examine the sources for the New Curriculum--how they came out of new ideas that started abroad--then things will become a bit clearer.
To my mind, and for the sake of convenience,
the New Curriculum has two important new points of focus: The idea of standards
and benchmarks; and alternative assessment. These two areas are what we
will be looking at in the URL's below.
However, before you begin, it's well worth your time to have a look at Gail Mann's clear and entertaining Powerpoint presentation that gives an overall picture of what the new curriculum is about:Curriculum Standards in the USA
So here's a really comprehensive list of Standards adopted by various states in the USA which is a regular subject for the FLTEACH (Foreign Language Teachers) electronic list.
If you are interested in the new communications technologies, and how they fit into the new curriculum, you might want to have a look at this site:
and see how to prepare lesson plans with these technological standards in mind.
And while you're at it, learn what SWABAT* means
* *SWBAT: indicates what "students will be able to" do at the end of the lesson.
Now look at ESL Standards for Pre-K - 12Students
The standards have three goals, each of which has three attached standards. Clicking on any one takes you to a page that lists the standard; provides descriptors (brief statements that elaborate on the standards); states sample progress indicators for grades pre-K to three, four to eight, and nine to twelve; and offers (or will offer soon) "vignettes" - or sample scenarios for different locales and situations that show how the standards could be used.
There is also the address of an email discussion list that you can join to ask about and receive information and comments on the subject of standards, as well as articles on how to implement and assess the implementation of the standards based curriculum.
To see that the standards based curriculum isn't just a figment of someone's overactive creativity, see the important questions that were considered before jumping on to the bandwagon at: http://www.mcrel.org/standards/articles/8-questions.asp
A curriculum cannot be discussed without considering how we assess students' achievements under the curriculum. The connection between the new standards based curriculum (not the Israeli one) and assessment is discussed in an article: http://www.nea.org/helpfrom/achieve/assessment/linked.html.
The newest ideas in alternative assessment (the euphemism for 'Not a Test') are portfolio assessment and rubrics.To find out all about portfolios and their assessment, see Debby Toperoff and Judy Kemp's wonderful booklet on the subject at: http://www.w-angle.galil.k12.il/call/portfolio/ and while I'm at it, a hearty congratulations to them for a fantastic job.
If you're really into the electronic media thing, and you want to see the latest in electronic portfolios and their assessment, your next stop should be: http://www.nea.org/cet/BRIEFS/brief4.html
See an assessment model for analytical
writing (very high level, but it shows just how detailed you
can get) at: http://www.nwrel.org/eval/toolkit/traits/index.html
And for those of you who are doing a thesis
on assessment, here is the ASKERIC list of links on the subject: http://ericae.net/intass.htm
Well, it's a set of criteria in tabular form. It's something like the guidelines for testing oral proficiency that the Ministry sends to testers for the Oral Bagrut. For those of you who have never seen this or another rubric, just imagine a 4x4 (or any other size ) Bingo board. Across the top, you write the levels of achievement/proficiency you want to define like "high, intermediate, low" or "80-100 points, 60-80 points, 40-60 points..." and down the side, you list the items you want to evaluate, like "fluency, accuracy, creativity, aesthetics". Then you work out the individual items under each square.
One of the nicest things about this kind
of evaluation tool is that you can work it out together with your students.
That way you both understand what is expected and the students feel empowered
(the newest buzzword meaning 'they have a say in the matter') Find out
all about student empowered assessment at: http://www.interactiveclassroom.com/neg-cont.html
If my explanation hasn't put you off and
you want to find out more about rubrics, here are some URL's:
For those of you who have used Germaine
Taggart's materials and know what a great job she does, here
is a review of her latest book on Rubrics. It looks wonderful
to me and is available through Amazon books (on line). If I had a library
budget, I'd certainly invest in this one.
Here's a set of links about assessment
and lots more articles about rubrics: http://remc11.k12.mi.us/bcisd/classres/restch.htm
And thanks to Tamar Bracha, here's a wonderful
link to the Instructional Technology Teachers HomePage which deals in depth
with the question of why use Rubrics, as well as giving examples of very
detailed rubrics developed at City of Rochester, for oral presentations