Freedom to Learn: Trust me *Please*


This past year I had the opportunity to write my own tech curriculum. I was starting at a new school with a new set of students and two labs I'd never taught in before. It was a shot in the dark.

I used the ISTE NETS framework to build the curriculum, mapping out a schedule of when I would teach what and which skills were at what level for each grade, but I had no idea where my students were on that map.

Now that a year has passed, I am scrapping nearly the entire thing and rebuilding it based on what I now know about my students, what I have learned over the course of the school year about teaching and learning as well as what I have observed as successful and what has failed in how I teach and design lessons and units.

My curriculum next year will be twice as good as this year's, I'm certain.

So I struggle with the idea of canned curricula, books and series put out by publishing companies and labeled as 'curriculum.'

No wonder many teachers feel like robots, delivering what the teacher's guide says is the objective for the day. I'm not even sure I know any teachers in Philadelphia who have played a part in writing the curriculum they teach. Why are we being told by someone outside of our school or community tell us what our kids need to know?

This doesn't mean that teaching should be anarchy, with each school doing whatever they want whenever they want. We still need to have an agreed upon idea of what we (meaning teachers as a whole across the nation/world) think our students should know. The issue is figuring out how to get there. To me, that is the magic of writing a curriculum that meets the needs of your students. It is not a fixed document, it is fluid and can be revised. It is not paired to a textbook or a reading series. It is a loose framework that acts as a map to help us navigate through the school year and move our students toward the larger essential questions and understandings that we want them to have.

So please, trust us. Know that we are professionals whose expertise is children. Let us use what we know about our students and about teaching and learning to craft a curriculum together that best meets the needs of our community. Let us have input into the document. Foster conversations across grade levels about skills and concepts students need to have or understand to be successful. Stop calling purchased reading series and social studies textbooks 'curricula.'

Trust us, please.
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The 1st Annual Philadelphia Education Conference


I just learned about a wonderful event here in Philly this weekend, the 1st Annual Philadelphia Education Conference. It is a day of conversations and panel discussions with the ultimate goal of hashing out some tangible steps toward positive reform of education here in Philadelphia.

While some of you may be aware that Education Nation, an NBC media event is also starting this weekend, I urge you to attend the Philadelphia Education Conference, which I'm sure will be a much more localized, grassroots and meaningful conversation.

Some of the listed attendees are:

Jim Stephens - Founder of Elite Rescue, Recovery, and Rebuilding 

Greg Trainor - Philadelphia Community Corps, United Philly

Alex McNeil and Project EDU Temple University-City Year

Howard Jean - Director of Education at Cheyney University, Founder of the national programs Call Me M.I.S.T.E.R and S.E.I.L. (Success through Education, Inspiration, and Leadership)

Gina Renzi - University of Pennsylvania Director of The Rotunda, After School Programs 

Bunmi Samuel - Freedom Schools, Director of Education of Friends Neighborhood Guild, Community Leader for Health and Nutrition at -EPIC, Board Member of Temple University's Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities

James Elam - Professor, Mentor, Founder of Pride Academy After School Program - a three tiered program consisting of education, arts, and athletics

Chuck Treece - several after school programs and youth Skating initiatives, Pew Fellowsip for the Arts Recipient, NARAS Board

Isaiah Thomas - Associate Dean of Students, Athletic Director, and Head Boys Basketball Coach at Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School. Candidate for Philadelphia City Council at Large

Tony Payton - State Representative

Tony Alvarez - Mariani Bracetti Academy Charter School - Dir. of School and Community Development

Tiffany Bacon - Connect to Protect Health Collective; Public Health Management Corp, PRAISE 103.9, 100.3 THE BEAT, 107.9 WRNB
Tiffany Thompson - Youth Health Empowerment Program (Y-HEP)

Russell Hicks - 100 Black Men of Philadelphia, E3 Centers

Richard DeJesus - Richard and Friends of the Community

Jeff Murray - YouthStarz

John Price - University of Pennsylvania Policy and Procuedure Department - OST Programs

Jonathan Centeno - ASPIRA, EPIC Kensington

Monica Montgomery - Arete Magazine

Celandra Rice Prince - Elements of Inspiration Radio Show, 1460 AM

Mark Savage, Jr. - Spoken Word Artist, Bright Lights Foundation, 528 Crescendo Productions

Ann Guise - Bright Lights Foundation

Ryshon Jones - Spoken Word Artist

Jamilla Harris, Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement (PYPM)

Darryl Clark - Help Educate Leaders for the Present (H.E.L.P.)

Alison Lin - Children's Hospital of Philadelphia - Connect to Protect Initiative

Thomas Butler - Project Grad ( Philly Chapter) 

When: Sunday, June 5th from 10am to 4pm. Doors open at 9am 

Where: Room 200 at Temple University’s Howard Gittis Student Center
1755 N. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122.

Tickets are only $10.

You can purchase tickets through TicketLeap here.

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