Developing (Dynamic) Instructional Programs

As Frymier (2001) has indicated:

Thirty different textbooks would be more appropriate than 30 copies of the same book. Three Thousand articles on geography … would be … [more enriching] than one geography textbook….  Big pieces of material … [with] numbered pages, tend to force teachers and students to accept a given sequence of limited amounts of information….  If curriculum materials are small in size, … superb in quality and great in number, teachers and students have an opportunity to create various patterns of sequence and use of materials.  Such variety increases the likelihood of meeting … [the needs of all students]. (p.62)

Original source material: Frymier, J. (2001). After thirty years of thinking about curriculum. Theory Into Practice, 25(1), 58-63.

The complexity of coursework (i.e. curriculum) and the type of learning that is expected are primary determinants of precisely how “dynamic” your curriculum may become. In cases when a technical objective (i.e. competency requirement) is identified as the intended outcome; your ability to formulate a dynamic strategy (as described by Frymier) is restricted by the structural mechanism (i.e. lesson plan) that you establish. Therefore, we must recognize that “non-technical” curriculums (which ought to be aligned with student-centered outcomes) are most conducive to employing “dynamic mechanisms” and facilitating “applied” learning.

The cognitive nature of applied learning is described by Bottoms, Presson and Johnson (1992) as follows:

Applied learning is actively student-oriented, characterized by lively … discussions, absorbing group projects, meaningful homework assignments, laboratory experiments, live and video … presentations, and other hands-on activities. The purpose of applied learning is to create an environment that actively engages students and teachers in a collaborative learning process. (p.50)

Original source material: Bottoms, Presson & Johnson (1992). Making high schools work. Georgia, Southern Regional Education Board.

Want to learn more about initiating dynamic instructional programs/curriculum? Sample/Purchase “The Dichotomy of Instructional Design” @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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The Potential of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain) “Surprise” Educational Reforms are Possible

The excerpts that follow may be found in the original source material.

Bloom, B. S. (Ed.). (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals–Handbook 1 [the] cognitive domain. New York, NY: David McKay, Inc.

Historical Perspective 

The idea for this classification system was formed at an informal meeting of college examiners attending the 1948 American Psychological Association Convention….  This meeting became the first of a series of informal annual meetings of college examiners.  Gathering at a different university each year and with some changes in membership, this group … considered the problems involved in organizing a classification of educational objectives….  [Although the members of this cohort (including Benjamin S. Bloom) have accepted responsibility for producing the taxonomy], ‘credit’ for ideas, suggestions, and sound criticism should be distributed more widely among all those who have attended one or more meetings of the group. (pp. 4-5)

[As indicated], this Handbook is truly a group product.  It is the direct outgrowth of the thinking of over thirty persons who attended the taxonomy conferences.  It is based on the work of … test constructors, curriculum workers, and [practitioners].  Several hundred readers of the preliminary edition [i.e. 1000 copies] … contributed criticisms, suggestions, and illustrative materials. (p. 9)

Therefore, “we” ought to think — long and hard — before we reinvent the wheel!  In recent months, I have read several posts which convey an array of confusing alternatives to the “classic” framework (i.e. classification schemes for developing curriculum and subsequent … learning experiences).  It is doubtful that a few misguided (ouch) individuals have conceptualized a more rational approach to enhance the learning experiences of “all” children.  In addition to many misinformed practitioners, I am sure that few political operatives (including those pressing for more testing) possess a fundamental understanding of how the classic framework (i.e. Blooms Taxonomy) may be applied to maximize the outcomes of schooling in a global society.  As described above, many dedicated people worked (for several years) to construct a classification system that “remains” relevant as the 21st century unfolds.  Out of respect for the innovators whom contributed to the 1956 framework, “we” ought to (re)examine the original material “before advocating alternatives”.

The rapid pace of technological change and the growing interconnectedness of communication systems throughout the world necessitates that dynamic curriculums materialize in our schools.  Dynamic instructional programs are considerate of global affairs, indicative of social and workplace requirements and responsive to the needs of students.  Such programs maximize the potential of students by providing them with multiple pathways to success.  Therefore, “we” ought not place an emphasis on prepackaged curriculums (or standardized tests).  Shifting our focus away from “canned” learning by placing our sights (i.e. goals) on educational reforms that perpetuate dynamic instructional programs can be easily accomplished when “all” stakeholders are properly informed about the applications associated with the taxonomy developed by Bloom et al.

Still Reading? — That’s Great!  I shall strive to overcome my weariness and begin framing “our” conceptual doctrine.

We must not rebel against all testing; testing is most appropriate when measuring those outcomes that are associated with knowledge, comprehension, and the application of “essential” knowledge and/or skills (i.e. competencies).  These fundamental tiers of Bloom’s 1956 hierarchical taxonomy are essential pre-requisites to three additional and progressively more complex outcomes (i.e. analysis, synthesis and evaluation) that comprise the classic framework.  Outcomes which align with the latter categories are indicative of “higher-order” thought processes which are enhanced when students engage in independent and/or socially charged learning experiences (which are not conducive to standardized assessment strategies).  Each of these “six” hierarchical categories are composed of several sub-categories which are also organized as hierarchical pre-requisites to those that follow.

Accordingly,

… simpler behaviors may be viewed as components of the more complex behaviors….  [So], behaviors of type A [Knowledge] form one class, behaviors of type AB [Knowledge and Comprehension] form another class, while behaviors of type ABC [Knowledge, Comprehension & Application] form still another class [etc.]. (pp. 16,18).

It is essential that “we” conceptualize the taxonomy as being comprised of two distinct (i.e. Dichotomous) halves if we are to comprehend the potential of establishing a contemporary framework for teaching and learning.  As such, the lower three categories of Bloom’s Taxonomy are indicative of learning experiences which are fundamentally Teacher-centered (or Competency-based).  While the latter three categories of this framework are … aligned with Student-centered learning.  Therefore, assessment strategies (including the utilization of performance-based instruments such as procedural checklists) that are aligned with the acquisition of “fundamental” knowledge and skills ought to be employed “until” students can demonstrate that they are capable of “applying” the target competency.  However, “if” our society intends to perpetuate and evaluate higher-order thought processes (which are indicative of progressively more complex applications of knowledge and skills); then, we must sanction strategies for learning (and assessment) that are aligned with the unique characteristics “being developed” by individuals.  Thus, the stage has been set!  We ought to consider the potential of applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to perpetuate a Dichotomous framework for teaching and learning!

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Perpetuating Reforms in Education (via Democratic Principles)

As Requested; I have reposted this classic! Enjoy, KEN

Kenneth Fetterman

The traditional mechanisms set in place many decades ago to administer educational programs in the United States are being overwhelmed by the burden to reform our public schools.   As such, a top down administrative hierarchy of controlling entities continuously demands accountability for the haphazard distribution of resources and the implementation of capricious policy mandates (dispensed by “outside” experts with little or no standing in your community).  When I think about “no child left behind” or “the race to the top” — my heart weeps!  These concepts are fundamentally flawed because they originate from the TOP (usually in Washington, D.C.).  Each year, the pace of change seems to accelerate–while burdens and responsibilities are (exponentially) placed upon our educators.  I am reminded of the saying “taxation without representation”.  Unless we reorganize our system of administering resources, training practitioners, and establishing reform initiatives; it troubles me to say that we can expect little success in the coming decade(s).

Oh, now don’t…

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Practitioners Must Be Prepared To Fight — (for Public Schools)!

In defending public education “against corporate take over initiatives” — We must establish Democratic Organizations in our schools/districts. The power to make decisions (about all aspects of schooling) ought to mirror the democratic frameworks we have established to maintain our freedoms and perpetuate Democracy in government. So! How do we go about moving toward this goal (i.e. independence)? Educators must conduct (site-based) action research, learn to apply theoretical constructs in their classrooms/schools, and keep their philosophy of education relevant. Practitioners must also continue to improve their instructional techniques (i.e. craft).

I am in agreement with “most of the comments” posted on various Blogs about the “motives of corporate entities”! However, I believe that in many ways EDUCATORS have taken the “poor me” position. May I encourage all practitioners to “fight” for their freedom (against mandates), and for the PUBLIC SCHOOLS that have blessed our nation (with strong independent thinkers) for decades.

Has anyone considered the significance of preparing (to fight)? I spent more than TEN years developing the means (i.e. mechanisms) required to “prepare” practitioners. However, I cannot force them to “prepare” for the battles ahead. I shall make a declarative statement to “BOTH” sides (i.e. public and private entities)–PREPARE TO DEFEND YOUR INTERESTS!
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THOSE INDIVIDUALS THAT STUDY (i.e. PREPARE) WILL PREVAIL …

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Portfolio Assessments: Authenticating Student Learning “and” Program Outcomes

Measuring student achievement (and the quality of educational programs) via standardized testing that is aligned with homogenized curriculums (i.e. common core mandates) is “pointless”.  Since ignorance is “bliss” — I shall direct my comments to those “agencies” perpetuating standardization.  –STOP– the madness, you are wasting time, precious resources and another generation of “potentially” productive beings.

Authentic learning varies among individuals; therefore, “authentic assessment strategies” must accommodate for differences among practitioners (and their students).  Portfolio mechanisms are technologically and economically feasible.  So, we must move the policy debate forward–How can we initiate these measures ASAP?

Consider the following rationale!

Portfolios represent a self-selected and reflective documentation of achievement (i.e. growth in understanding and skill).  They may materialize as a collection of professional and/or student work that is placed in a folder, or as a more comprehensive and structured production.  Realizing that advancements in computer technology have made e-formats feasible; they may include a broad range of artifacts, discourse, and video recordings (i.e. performances) that represent the on-going development and verification of competencies realized by educators and/or their students.  Usually such collections include a brief introduction to the contents that follow; a summary component that communicates how the products were assembled, and a reflective caption that conveys why each piece is significant.  The compilation process requires practitioners/students to engage in introspective acts (i.e. self-evaluation and reflection).  As an on-going documentation of development, the [evolving] process provides a means to actively engage practitioners (or their students) in constructing knowledge and evaluating their performance.  It also “becomes the basis for conversations and other interactions among students … teachers and parents” (Murphy, 1998, p.7).

When teachers (are required) to develop professional portfolios; we shall have the means to evaluate teacher effectiveness and program outcomes in an “authentic” context.  Likewise, portfolios created and maintained by students will authenticate the unique characteristics of all students!  Read more? http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Comments About Loss of Special Education Teachers (in B.C.) & Increases in # of SN Students

Thank You–for posting my comment A.C.! View original post @ http://andrewchernoff.wordpress.com

I commented: I’m not sure we should label (many) students as “special needs” (i.e. S.N.).  Let me explain; all students ought to be treated equal!  When we label children (for life) — then, we actually perpetuate their needs.  I taught in a maximum security, juvenile justice setting and my students definitely had special needs.  How did I respond (as a vocational/technology education instructor)?  I treated all of my students just like I would a student at the college level. –(that is to say)– I had “high” expectations for their success.

I think that (in many cases) — once the SN label is applied to students “our” (collective) expectations for their success in the world decreases.  Thus, “they” are doomed to fail as productive members in our society.  LET ME CLEARLY STATE: I am not saying  that “some” students will not succeed in overcoming their disadvantages!  I am making a general statement regarding the harmful effects of setting low expectations for special need students.  OK!

Then, there is the issue of funding SN students; (with budgets tightening) most administrators cannot afford the loss of funding for “their” special needs population (and that is a problem).  Before I made this declarative statement, I checked out the facts.  Source: http://www.ehow.com/facts_5962286_financial Under the section: Cost per Student–it is stated that: “States vary in the amount of funding per student.  In the state of Washington, each school [district] receives over $3,500.00 per general education student and more than twice that amount for each special needs student.”

There are no incentives to remove students from SN programs into mainstream classes within the “general” student body (and society).  Yes, I know many of these students do succeed via mainstreaming “policy initiatives”!  However, I believe that — the incentive to declare “more” individuals as having special needs — “is tempting”.  Let’s reconsider the term special needs and focus on educational reforms that take into account the needs of all students.  My recent post dated Nov 21st-2013 (“Adapting Instructional Mechanisms to Accommodate Students with Special Needs”) is available @ https://kennethfetterman.wordpress.com

I believe that all educators ought to become proficient at adapting their instruction to accommodate students with special needs.  We don’t always need a “special education” teacher to address this need. $$$  I shall not even go into the role that poverty has played in the lives of (otherwise normal children).

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Public Education (at the crossroads): Authoritative Mandates – OR – Democratic Principles

Recent reactions to “Common Core” principles indicate that many parents, teachers, and visionary scholars are not in support of these mandates.  I have no desire to waste my time criticizing such initiatives because … are posted.  If you desire to look into the matter further (which I do not); you shall discover that concerns have been raised in regards to “the business” of common core initiatives, the content and implementation criteria of “core” principles, and the dissemination of “standardized” assessment rubrics.

I believe that the primary objections directed at these initiatives stem from a legitimate belief that the constructs are too prescriptive (and that financial and/or political motives may be in play).  So, regardless of the intentions of those involved with the production and distribution of such materials – I must support proponents on the side of Democracy.  Democratic principles are based on the concept of “E PLURIBUS UNUM” (i.e. “out of many we are one”).  Since, many oppose the fundamental precepts of these initiatives and few are …? I shall assume the majority of voices are “instinctively” opposed to any agenda that is a threat to “our” democratic traditions.

I worry (as many others have) that homogenization (i.e. standardized mandates) will stifle creative thinking and innovation!  My experiences as an independent scholar have given me reason to “doubt” that change will occur if we all get on-board.  The changes I propose in education (and teacher training) will foster innovation from within; my conceptual framework includes a set of “common” recommendations for curriculum.  However, I believe that communities of practitioners must be given the “freedom” to decide what is relevant in their classrooms and schools.

For example: If we took the concept “students ought to learn about aquatic environments” as one of our core principles and allowed local agencies to determine “how” that core principle would be addressed; we would perpetuate Democratic principles in our schools.  Accordingly, in the state of DELAWARE we might address the concept via curriculum(s) that are centered around the CHES. BAY.  However, practitioners in IOWA may want to address this “core” principle via curriculums that incorporate aqua-culture or pollution from agriculture.  Freedom (not mandates) is the only way to continue the process of transformation that began more than a century ago.  DO NOT abdicate your responsibilities as citizens (and practitioners of education) to determine “what is best” for our Nation (and our public schools)!

We must build a strong network of practitioner communities and ensure that teachers are provided with adequate training before we can expect democracy to become … in our schools.  Want to learn more about Becoming a Reflective Practitioner and/or The Dichotomy of Instructional Design (i.e. student-centered and/or teacher-centered learning)?  Sample/Purchase my books which are available at: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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