Concept driven curriculum | Collaboration | Braingym

11 Mar

The professional development I attended today was about Concept Driven Curriculum, Collaboration and BrainGym in the PYP.  Some of the main points driven home from the first session were that:

  • Concepts and related concepts are the links between specialist subjects and core teachers.
  • Teachers should vocalize concepts, “We are learning about change.  How are you learning about change in another class?”
  • “Less is more” – Related concepts should be focused upon for in-depth learning, rather than a whole slew of concepts lightly touched upon.
  • Related Concepts should be embedded in the Central Idea
  • Lessons should be universal – transdisciplinary, over time, local and global
  • A good central idea is one that can be used in any grade.

The following session was a reflection about collaboration.

  • One new idea to me was that “Collaboration is not always a good thing.”  These ideas were adapted from Robbins, H., & Finley, M. (2000) They mentioned these pitfalls:
  1. Sameness – If teams are too collaborative they adopt rigid standards and impose them on themselves, not ready to think outside the box
  2. Groupthink leads to purges of perceived outsiders and stultification of insiders.
  3. Blurriness.  Too much democracy leads to mush and might lack focus.
  4. Slowness.  Concensus doesn’t “snap to” the way intimidated agreement does.
  5. Leaderlessness.  When everyone is encouraged to lead, the result is that no one does.
  6. Defencelessness. Some teams become so intimate and sensitive with one another they can’t function among outsiders.
  7. Interiority. Teams who work too long together have a way of becoming cross-eyed over time.
  8. Mercilessness.  “The many are stronger than the one” is the motto of supercollaboration, which is also the motto of fascism.
  • Don’t teach for knowledge, but what to do with that knowledge – to teach for understanding.  For example, don’t just teach about the French Revolution. Think about what you do with and through the knowledge.  For more about this concept up on read David Perkins
  • To find out who is a leader and who actually has better answers use the LOST AT SEA test.
  • Is there are difference between collaboration and cooperation?

Braingym was the final session that is a program of 26 movements to enhance learning and performance

  • Feed your body with water and oxygen
  • The human body was made to be used
  • Be Positive, Active, Clear & Energetic
  • Make connections between left and right hemispheres of the brain
  • Laterality, Centering, Focusing
  • Combine fine motor exercises, reflexology, yoga and fitness.

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One response to “Concept driven curriculum | Collaboration | Braingym

  1. Chris

    April 25, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Tom I really like this blog – seriously it’s well deigned and informative!

    I want to expand on this statement

    “Concepts and related concepts are the links between specialist subjects and core teachers.Teachers should vocalize concepts, “We are learning about change. How are you learning about change in another class?”

    There is this assumption that designing curriculum so teachers collaborate and integrate students’ thinking through the same key concepts (change, connection, function etc) is a good idea. This notion has come from the work of Lynn Erickson. But if you dig a little deeper in what Erickson says, she states that teachers should aim to do this only in respect to focused concepts. She states that there is no point using macro concepts (e.g. the PYP’s key concepts) to integrate thinking. In fact she says that by doing that you cause cognitive dissonance. In other words if a PE teacher is discussing the cause of a good long jump as the homeroom teacher is discussing the cause of World War One it is not doing the student any good at all. This is a myth and unfortunately one that PYP Workshop Leaders are preaching without the backing of the experts like Erickson.

    So narrow focused related concepts or indeed narrow focused concepts found in central ideas are a great idea for conceptual integration. Learning about a macro concept like change in one class and in another has little value according to the expert.


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