Archive for February, 2009

Open Education Efforts Around the Globe: Curriki

At the moment I am involved in a number of education, literacy and technology projects across the GCC. As a part of this work, I have the fortunate opportunity to meet with education stakeholders from the public, private and NGO sectors daily. It is so exciting to see so much energy and enthusiasm in the region around literacy and technology as highlighted by the upcoming Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature as well as the work EDC is currently doing to bring open source course materials and trainings to teachers across Yemen.

Every time I meet with universities and school teachers in the region, the same buzz words keep coming up:

  • 21st century skills
  • Technology literacy
  • Reading
  • Blogging, wikis, and other web 2.0 tools
  • International collaboration and global citizenship

Not surprising, these are the same buzz words I heard on a daily basis last year while working on education technology projects around the US!

In line with the aforementioned themes, there are a number of organizations across the globe creating platforms and initiatives to help teachers share lessons and best practices while at the same time building their own technology literacy skills. One such organization is a non-profit called Curriki:

Curriki is a social entrepreneurship organization that supports the development and free distribution of open source educational materials to improve education worldwide. The online community gives teachers, students and parents universal access to a wealth of peer-reviewed K-12 curricula, and powerful online collaboration tools. Curriki is building the first and only Web site to offer a complete, open course of instruction and assessment. Founded by Sun Microsystems in 2004, the organization has operated as an independent nonprofit since 2006.

With nearly 25,000 free education resources, Curriki is a site not to be missed! To start, take a look at the K-2 literacy resources here.

From Bahrain,

Anna

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How the World’s Best Performing School Systems Come out on Top

Recently I reread the 2007 McKinsey report, How the World’s Best Performing School Systems Come out on Top. Between March 2006 and May 2007, a team of McKinsey researchers and consultants did an intense review and analysis of multi-country PISA results and education best-practices literature. In addition, they conducted 100+ interviews with experts, policymakers and practitioners around the world in order to benchmark 2 dozen school systems throughout the Middle East, North America, Asia and Europe. The goal of the research was, “to understand why the world’s top performing school systems perform so much better than most others and why some educational reforms succeed so spectacularly when most others fail” (p. 11).

The report points out that the best school systems:

  • Get the right people to become teachers
  • Develop them into effective instructors
  • Ensure the system is able to deliver the best possible instruction for each child

In case you’re curious, school systems that they consider to fall into this category include at the top: Alberta, Australia, Belgium, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Ontario, Singapore and South Korea.

Reading this made me wonder… What goes on behind the doors of classrooms in Alberta and Finland that is so spectacular? How do these teachers learn their trade? How do they continue learning and improving their art?

Luckily I recently discovered The Global Education Collaborative–an excellent social network that connects teachers and students interested in global education around the world. Think of the possibilities! How about connecting with a classroom in Jamaica to study the water cycle and literacy? Or, why not have your students do a joint wiki history project with students at an international school in Spain!

The world is our classroom! To learning, collaboration, technology literacy and more!

Anna

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Bringing the White House to your Literacy Classroom

With a new president in the Oval Office and lots of attention on Barack Obama’s new agenda in the news, this is an opportune time to bring bits of history and social studies into your literacy block! The new White House home page is a true gem when it comes to user-friendliness and information. The White House 101 page is a particularly good resource for White House history and factoids. For example, did you know that:

  • Before he became president, Lyndon Johnson was a teacher at a small school in South Texas.
  • In 1915, Woodrow Wilson became the first President to attend the World Series, where he and his fiance, Edith Gault, made their first public appearance since announcing their engagement. The President insisted on paying for his own tickets.
  • The Kennedy children had a pony named “Macaroni.”

When your students bring up current events in the classroom, make sure to recommend that they take a look at www.whitehouse.gov.

History, Social Studies, Current Events, Literacy, Technology and more!

Thank you White House technology staff for putting together an excellent classroom resource!

Anna

P.S. Thank you to journalist Chris Riedel and Timothy E. Wirth, Professor in Learning Technologies at Harvard University, for their kind words about Literacy is Priceless in their recent article, “The Evolution of Education: Empowering Learners to Think, Create, Share, and Do” in T.H.E. Journal.

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