Mandated Curriculum and Flexible Programming


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Mandated Curriculum and Flexible Programming

  1. 1. Which teaches science knowledge and skills better to our students: mandated curriculum or f lexible program?
  2. 2. Our Alberta education system has always had a mandated curriculum. The science knowledge and skills are listed in outcomes with “Specific Learner Expectations”. These outcomes are an outlined of what needs be taught to our students as seen on the right. When the students have learned the outcomes the teacher “checks” it off as completed. Specific Learner Expectations Students will: 1. Identify colours in a variety of natural and manufactured objects. 2. Compare and contrast colours, using terms such as lighter than, darker than, more blue, brighter than. 3. Order a group of coloured objects, based on a given colour criterion. 4. Predict and describe changes in colour that result from the mixing of primary colours and from mixing a primary colour with white or with black. Alberta Education. (1995-2012). Government of Alberta. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from Program of Studies:
  3. 3. However, not all education systems are this way, in Australia and Finland the curriculum is flexible. The student/child are the center of the program and they influence the science knowledge and skills, which are to be taught in the curriculum. Rosen, Len . 2012. 21st century tech blog's human resolutions for lifeboat earth in 2013. [Web Image]. Retrieved from
  4. 4.  Alberta teachers are making a shift to teach more 21st Century learning skills. But there is a debate that this might not teach the science knowledge our students need.
  5. 5. Alberta Education. 2011. Framework for student learning. [Web Image]. Retrieved from
  6. 6. PROS  keeps teachers accountable and gives consistency to our students  teachers know what Science material is being taught and there is professional develop and classroom supplies ready to support it CONS • • teachers and students are confined to the science curriculum teachers are unable to teach a student’s interest.
  7. 7. By having a mandated science curriculum there are mandated standards our teachers need to teach to. All teachers are teaching the same material and there is no question whether or not students learned ‘something’ (Ahlquist, 2003). Mandated curriculum ensures the materials are organized in a logical sequence “based upon well-articulated teaching objectives, reasoned representations of content taught, and considerations of what students have learned and what they are going to learn” (Wang & Paine, 2003, pg. 91).
  8. 8.  Teachers are always looking for professional development to support their teaching. Professional development should “influence teachers’ teaching, provides specific standards, suggestions, and resources for instruction” (Wang & Paine, 2003, pg. 91).  The hope is that by providing teachers with professional development consistency among teachers is built “between the guidance, teaching materials, and assessment” (Wang & Paine, 2003, pg. 91).
  9. 9.  When teachers are confined to the science curriculum we are unable to teach our student’s interests  Teachers who teach solely the curriculum become deskilled technicians, where the only goal is to teach the content (Ahlquist, 2003).  Limiting teachers to only teaching the curriculum ties teachers into teaching “to the lowest common denominator, the standardized tests” (Ahlquist, 2003, pg. 59).
  10. 10. Audio of my personal thoughts on mandated curriculum
  11. 11. PROS  allows students to influence their learning, because students are able to learn about science topics that interest them  flexible curriculum allows for Science inquiry projects in order to develop 21st century learning skills • • CONS there is no insurance that the science knowledge and skills students need to learn will be taught with flexible curriculum no consistency among teachers or schools
  12. 12.  If the program is flexible students are able to learn more about things that interest them. Students can form questions that they have wondered, “set personal goals, monitor and reflect on their performance processes and outcomes, and make adjustments to manage independent projects” (Moote, William, & Sproule, 2013).  Students are engaged by learning more about their passions and take their learning into their own hands (Moote, William, & Sproule, 2013)
  13. 13.  The curriculum in Australia is more flexible, allowing students and teachers to build the curriculum together by emphasizing on the science inquiry (Aubusson, 2011).  The focus in the Australian curriculum is more “representation of inquiry approaches and quite a bit of contemporary thinking about investigative skills and notions of inquiry” (Aubusson, 2011. pg. 234).  The strands most frequently described “contributing to a scientifically literate Australia were the 'Science as a Human Endeavour' and 'Science Inquiry' rather than the 'Science Understanding' strand” (Aubusson, 2011. pg.235).
  14. 14.  Flexible curriculum allows for inquiry projects, which develops 21st Century skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, self-direction.  Inquiry-based projects provide students with the opportunity to work through the learning process of questioning, researching, and assessing the information (Moote, William, & Sproule, 2013).  Projects stimulate active engagement in students as they learn (Moote, William, & Sproule, 2013)
  15. 15. Here is a video from New Brunswick Department of Education about 21st Century education.
  16. 16.  Principals, policy makers, and educators find that flexible curriculum can affect the accountability of teachers. There is also a fear that the professional development would not be strong for a beginning teacher, allowing teacher evaluations to be equal (Lasswell, Pace, & Reed, 2008).  In Australia, the concern is if a child moves, it can become “awkward for them if the curriculum is not lined up” (Aubusson, 2011. pg. 232)
  17. 17. Audio of my personal thoughts on flexible programing
  18. 18.  using relevant issues and/current issues in the world would make a lesson more interesting, this would also help with creating that family connection as if it is a current issue it is probably talked about around the supper table (Sumrall & Shillinger, 2004).  we are in a place right now where there is a rapid change; therefore, “academic programs must experiment and evolve in order to keep pace with advances in knowledge, changes in professional practice, and shifting conditions in society” (Baldwin & Baumann, 2005, 89).
  19. 19.  Alberta’s education system needs to change. It needs to incorporate more 21st century skills as seen on this video Curriculum Redesign
  20. 20. I believe that our Alberta curriculum needs to change. We need to be given more freedom in the set curriculum for classroom teachers to work with students on topics of interests. We need to allow our students the chance to learn about what interests them by supporting our students to form scientific questions (Moote, Williams, & Sproule, 2013). When we have students included in the process of their own learning, where they are deciding what will be taught, students are developing an awareness to particular topics and the importance of learning them and understanding them (Sumrall & Shillinger, 2004). I also believe that if our curriculum was not so heavy, current topics in the media could be explored.
  21. 21.  Following a student’s interest is different then actual inquiry. Our students need to learn how to form a good inquiry question. Alberta Education has created ‘Asking Powerful Questions’ in Social Studies. Here are the links: the first is a set of lesson plans and the other shows some excellent short video examples of implementing these lessons into the classroom.  powerfulquestions_mt.html 
  22. 22. • Alberta Education developed a model for inquiry for teachers. Here is the link:  ry.pdf  Edmonton Catholic’s district is working with Lee Crockett on the 21st century fluencies, which we are implementing into how we teach the Alberta Curriculum, his book is  Literacy is not Enough
  23. 23. After watching the Did You Know video, Did you know Which teaches science knowledge and skills better to our students: mandated curriculum or flexible program?
  24. 24.  Ahiquist, Roberta. 2003. Challenges to academic freedom: California teacher educators mobilize to resist statemandated control of the curriculum. Teacher Education Quarterly. 30.1. pg. 57  Alberta Education. 2011. Framework for student learning. [Web Image]. Retrieved from  Alberta Education. (1995-2012). Government of alberta. Retrieved  Aubusson, R. 2011. An Australian science curriculum: competition, advances and retreats. Australian Journal of Education. 55.3. pg. 229-244  Baldwin, R. & Baumann, M. 2005. Options for change: a flexible vehicle for curriculum evolution and reform. Innovative Higher Education. 30.2.  Lasswell, T., Pace, N., Reed, G. 2008. Weighing in: rural Iowa principals’ perceptions of state-mandated teaching evaluation standards. The Rural Educator 29.3. page 40-44  Moote, J., William, J. & Sproule J. 2013. When students take control: investigating the impact of the CREST inquirybased learning program on self-regulated processes and related motivations in young science students. Journal of Congnitive Education and Psychology, suppl. Special issue on Fostering Self-regulated learning. 12.2 pg. 178-196  Rosen, Len . 2012. 21st century tech blog's human resolutions for lifeboat earth in 2013. [Web Image]. Retrieved from  Sumrall, W. & Schillinger D. 2004. A student-directed model for designing a science/social studies curriculum. The social studies. 95.1 pg 5-10  Wang, J. & Paine L. 2003. Learning to teach with mandated curriculum and public examination of teaching as contexts. Teaching and Teacher Education 19. pg. 75-94.