# Category Archives: Developing and Facilitating Leadership

## Instructional Design ~ Should it Be a Bachelor of Education Requirement?

###### http://www.ems1.com

The promise of revised curriculum continues to taunt Alberta educators, and we continue to *prepare ourselves for the unknown*; I believe my English 30 teacher would have called this a juxtaposition! As part of my own preparation, I decided to take the online Instructional Design course from Mount Royal University.

I was roused by its description, as it seemed to align with the work I currently do, and I hoped it would also support my future work of supporting implementation of new curriculum. The course description read: *Instructional Design*– “Explore instructional design principles, characteristics of adult learners and their implications in designing an effective instructional program. Apply information about learning styles to the design of instructional learning outcomes. Write clear and concise performance outcomes and competencies in order to direct instructional design.”

Much of the information in the first 2 weeks of the course wasn’t new learning, but rather, strong reinforcement of what I already knew about learners and learning. To be given the opportunity to articulate my thoughts on paper and to have someone else read and find value in my thinking was very invigorating! Weeks 3 and 4 refreshed my brain with new learning, and I had a particularly strong “aha” moment that I described in this post on our online discussion board:

*Aha! Learning Outcome S**tatements are NOT the same thing as curricular learning outcomes! Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) are derived from analysis of curricular outcomes; LOS articulate what the learner is able to do to demonstrate the learning. In my experience as an “instructional designer” in the role of a teacher, the curricular learning outcomes were the drivers for designing my instruction, for designing my teaching, learning and assessment materials- yikes!*

*What an AHA moment when I realized TODAY that NO WONDER it can be an exhausting task for teachers to design these materials. Classroom teachers are not basing the design and development of our materials on strong LOS, we are basing them on curricular learning outcomes that may or may not articulate what students are required to DO to demonstrate their learning. We are designing and developing materials that have students demonstrate their learning, when we’re not really clear on what those performances need to look like. We’re missing a critical step between curricular outcomes and assessment tasks; i.e. developing Learning Outcome Statements! *

*As a teacher, it seemed easier to design and develop Language Arts and Math course materials when I used the “illustrative examples” and “achievement indicators” in conjunction with the learning outcomes. Well, it’s no wonder I found that easier! The illustrative examples are a logical “step” in the process of bringing vague curricular outcomes to life in the course materials, as they articulate what the learner should be able To DO as a result of their learning. As it turns out, the illustrative examples serve the purpose of the LOS that guide instructors to design and select effective learning strategies, learning assessments and materials that align with the specified curricular learning outcomes.*

*Why isn’t an Instructional Design course a requirement for the Bachelor of Education? It would help teachers be so much more efficient, effective and confident!”*

The ensuing comments for this post were evidence that my fellow educators in the course were in total agreement, and one even noted that she was going to write the Dean of Education a letter in this regard. The comments that resonated with me the most, though, were from two of the younger learners in our course, as they are written from the perspective of a student, and not from the perspective of a teacher.

Colt: “*Being new to the field of education, it is great when others share their experiences with the group! I can recall being a student, and seeing curricular outcomes on course outlines, rather than a strong learning outcome statement. As a learner, it creates confusion when determining your personal level of success, and knowing what the needs are that you are expected to meet*.”

Alena: *“I second that Colt. I’m still fairly new to education as well but after learning all these awesome things it makes me realize more and more that we are not using a lot of strong learning outcome statements in our courses to create a clear path for learners to know what is expected of them.”*

Of course I spent WAY too much time on the discussion board, and even more time perfecting my assignments, thinking, re-thinking, editing, re-editing… The estimated 15 hours per week turned out to be 30+ hours per week. On top of my already full work schedule, the addition of the course resulted in a very tiring 4 weeks without any down time- but the learning was so worth it and I don’t regret a minute of it. New curriculum, I can’t wait for you to roll out- I’m ready for you!

## Math Minds- An Innovative Project

**Math Minds** is a project committed to enhancing the development of numeracy skills in early years’ students. This post reveals some of the components of the Math Minds project, which I’m certain **we’ll be hearing more about** as the project progresses.

**Canadian Oilsands Limited** has invested $3 million as part of a 5 year commitment in this initiative to enhance numeracy competencies in young students, and to build teachers’ capacity to do so. Much of the $ is being used to fund teachers’ professional growth. The participating school(s) will use *Jump Math* as the lens for instructional practice and programming. *Jump Math* is also learning along the way, and will work to enhance their program based on the findings.

The goal is for Calgary to become an “excellence in math centre”, and if successful, Canadian Oilsands hopes to be able to **replicate this model in other areas of the country**. The project is working to create a model school(s) where guests will be able to visit to see promising math practices in action. They also hope that the model school(s) can be place(s) where teachers can participate in a possible residency program for a year to build their capacity, after which time they would go back to their own school and be a lead math teacher.

In addition to providing the model school(s) with the *Jump Math* training and other professional development, part of Math Minds initiative also trains volunteers (pre-service teachers from the University of Calgary as well as members of the community) to tutor students after school using the *Jump Math Tutor* program, through the Boys and Girls Club. During the conference, I was sitting with 2 people who are math tutors at the Boys and Girls Club. They shared some of the successes they are seeing through the use of *Jump Math*.

**Jump Math **is a not for profit organization that has developed grades 1 – 8 math programs, for classroom teachers, tutors and parents.

Several speakers at the MathConnect Conference spoke about their work with *Jump Math*.

The University of Calgary is endorsing *Jump Math*, saying it is a good blend of discovery learning and explicit instruction. It breaks down the concepts and teaches the teachers themselves the concepts, so they can understand them in a deeper way, and in turn, teach them in a better way. It helps teachers determine what early skills the students are missing, so those skills can be developed to enable students to learn skills further along the developmental continuum. It supports the research that shows that early deficits have a cumulative effect, and that success in early math skills are a better predictor of success in later years, than success in early literacy skills.

**Elisha Bonnis**, an elementary school teacher with Vancouver Board of Education shared how *Jump Math* helped her overcome feelings of inadequacy in math. It helped her learn the basic skills and knowledge she was missing, and helped her to realize she CAN indeed DO and TEACH math. The philosophy behind *Jump Math* reflects Dr. Dweck’s *Mindset *research. Elisha offered the advice that if teachers do decide to use the program, **to follow the teacher’s guide**, as its explicit teaching method helps uncover the skills that students are missing, and helps them develop those skills so they can be successful in learning and growing from the discovery activities.

If you’re interested, all the teacher, tutor and parent *Jump Math* lessons are available, for free, on their website. The student consumable books are available for purchase. http://jumpmath.org/cms/

All in all, Math Minds sounds like a very worthwhile project! I know I’m going to be keeping tabs on its progress. What do you think?