(Dowden, T 2017, ‘Curriculum’ in DL Pendergast, K Main & NM Bahr (3rd Edition), Teaching Middle Year: Rethinking Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, pp. 170-187)
Digitally Annotated by Andrei Apostol
This theme looked at the elements of the curriculum in the middle schooling years, specifically general curriculum, literacy, numeracy and physicality. These chapters made it evident that we as teachers where possible need to practice integration in our subjects – this means to utilise the cross curricular links in the curriculum documents we use and the capability. This can be seen as making a meaningful curriculum for the student, who can then link how the skills they learn in one discipline can be used in another. An interesting and valuable take home is that it is not just the role the literacy/English or numeracy/math teacher to create literate and numerate student, it is all teachers.
3 – CAPTURE THE ESSENCE OF THE CHAPTER
It is acknowledged that individuals learn best when they understand what is being learnt and why it is relevant, especially an important factor for middle school teachers to consider (Dowden, T 2017, pp.170). Middle school teachers need to have a sophisticated level of pedagogical content knowledge that can be specifically applied to cater for the individual learning needs of their young adolescent learners (Dowden, T 2017, pp.170). (So curriculum needs to be specific and relatable, while also being sophisticated enough to promote academic rigour)
The Australian Curriculum states that all students are entitled (I like this word because it clearly outlines our obligation towards students) to a rigorous, relevant and engaging learning program drawn from a challenging curriculum that addresses the individual learning needs of students, allowing for individual success to be achieved by all students (Dowden, T 2017, pp.171).
Middle school teachers need a balance of the traditional middle school site focus on subject-centred focus (focusing on under the subject discipline) with the student-centred focus (focusing on learning through harnessing enthusiasm, energy, relevance and connection. Balancing this allows for potential maximising student engagement (Dowden, T 2017, pp.187). (Can also help ease the transition from a student centred focus to a subject centred focus)
2 – PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR YOUR TEACHING
In my classroom, I will seek balance and integrate student and subject-centred focus, through providing the maximum potential for student engagement and success during my lesson. This to mean meaning acknowledging and differentiating students whilst also providing robust content to help the make connections and meaning that is more than just content but makes connections with other subjects and life. (So subjects can make connections to real life experiences in an authentic manner?)
Student learn best when content and learning is relevant and meaningful, in my practice I will engage student with the content in real-world context and seek to connect them with/to their learnings (<< spot on, and finding relevant and meaningful content can only happen through relationship building)
1A – RICH, OPEN-ENDED QUESTION OR PROVOCATION
It is acknowledged that teachers need to balance the student-centred and subject-centred approaches to ensure success for their middle schoolers (Dowden, T 2017, pp.187) What are some important things for a teacher to remember when trying to embed these into their practice?
1B- REFLECTIVE RESPONSE ON TO THE QUESTION OR PROVOCATION
We as teachers can balance the student-centred and subject-centred approaches by considering every student's primary schooling. Knowing their background and where they currently sit in terms of key knowledge for each subject. Knowing this, students can then be catered equitably by the teachers. Some students will, inevitably, have ‘gaps’ in their knowledge which will hinder them from engaging with curricula effectively but it is how we as teachers differentiate learning for them and make it meaning that will engage them with the hope of bridging the gaps they have. Providing students with appropriate scaffolding tasks with allow them to transition properly to middle school and make the leap to the way of a secondary school. Teachers, need not make assumptions about what students know and this is where knowing the student comes into play and providing sufficient scaffolding is helpful and needed for students.
Damien Walker is currently studying a Bachelor of Education, Food and Textiles Technologies at University of South Australia. This is him engaging with readings and questions throughout his teaching journey to gain professional insight and knowledge.