Curriculum Case 1: Climate Change Curriculum for Harvard Graduate School of Education Students. (With Professor Tina Grotzer)
Inspired by the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the ultimate goal of the course is to produce graduates from schools of education worldwide who can serve as leaders in the 21st century global movement on the pressing issue of climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning. Implementation of the course was documented in Springer Nature (below).
Survey Administration and Interpretation
In order to assess preliminary needs and interest in a climate change curriculum for the 21st century at HGSE, we administered a Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice (KAP) survey to 66 respondents comprised mostly of HGSE students. The 66 participants were affiliated with various programs at HGSE and planned to go into different sectors in education, reflecting the diverse student composition in education sectors that our curriculum targets. Each question was designed specifically to corresponded with a Knowledge, Attitude, or Practice (KAP) assessment of student’s understanding and interest of climate change.
I have carefully considered the design elements of the course, including the scope (breadth of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors) and the sequence (order) of the course. The rationale of the chosen materials, pedagogy, and class activities are listed below:
In 1956, Bloom categorized cognitive learning objectives in a progressive hierarchy from least to most complex levels which include: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Based on his taxonomy, this curriculum devotes the first class of each week building upon basic, fundamental skills such as ‘knowledge,’ and ‘comprehension’ via lectures and engaging discussions. A knowledge-based start will help to foster an atmosphere of intellectual discourse in the classroom (Fook 2012), and specifically of accumulating, deepening, and transferring knowledge of the environment to a large mass of educators (Radaković et al. 2017).
Lectures are followed by an invigorating student led discussion, for students to ‘synthesize’ (Bloom 1956) what they have learned. Discussions help bring out the importance of engagement and fostering a culture of student-centered learning (Anderson 2012). Discussion prompts will center around the essential questions posed by faculty, and this active facilitation is enhanced as faculty demonstrate the changing role of a teacher; from "content expert" to "curriculum facilitator," in this new era of learning (Godsey 2015). Active listening is encouraged, and main points are organized on a board framing the argument and building insights.
Climate change education inevitably requires having to incorporate a blend of multi-disciplinary academic subjects. (Lindblom-Ylänne et al. 2006, Lueddeke 2003, Nevgi et al. 2004, Singer 1996). Topics within the scope of this curriculum include socio-political issues surrounding the scientific facts of climate change, innovative technology serving as possible solutions, as well as the role of education in mitigating climate change. Week 3 will touch upon the cognitive function of how people learn, with regards to understanding that climate change requires an ‘action-at-a-distance’ approach. Weeks 4 to 11 will cover a myriad of ways in which education can help mitigate the impact of climate change. Some topics include curriculum design, professional development of teachers, school operations, informal education, measurements, education policy, and climate justice. In the final week of class, students will give their presentations and share the takeaways from the course.
The second class each week will consist of ‘applying,’ ‘synthesizing,’ and ‘evaluating’ (Bloom 1956) what they know via engaging projects. Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of active, project-based learning (Leigh 2009). The semester-long project involves a group of 3-5 students (Henke 1985) with varying levels of experience in multiple education sectors, collaborating to craft a holistic educational strategy to mitigate climate change. Students are asked to formulate project groups around a jurisdiction with meaningful personal ties, helping to contextualize learning as local, tangible, and personally relevant (Cone et al. 2012, Anderson 2012). Each jurisdiction will highlight the different agenda and perspectives present today in the 21st century global climate change movement. Students will give presentations in the final week and submit a 20-page-paper as a final project. Throughout the project, students are active participants in their own learning which will include the design of their experiences and the realization of their learning outcomes. Ultimately, students can take full ownership of their own learning. This class will involve weekly group assignments (Monroe et al. 2017) that students will start in the class but finish as collaborative homework.
The second half of the week additionally focuses on student-centered activities, guest lecturers, simulations, and excursions to provide a thought-provoking experience for students to experience real life perspectives in the topic of climate change. In week 7, students will take an excursion to a nearby environmental institution. With multiple studies revealing the importance of making the distant threat of climate change personally relevant and meaningful (Shome et al. 2009, Fook 2012, Moser and Dilling 2007, Wibeck 2014), excursions can help make real that the threat of climate change tangible and immediate (Cone et al. 2012). We also bring in local guest speakers committed to the field to bring expert knowledge into the classroom (Leigh 2009, Theobald et al. 2015) serving as a relevant, local source of inspiration to the students all the while minimizing carbon footprint expenditure.
Real World Situations
Our audience are adult learners, who see themselves as capable of self-direction and incentivized by tasks that will prepare for social and occupational role competency (El Sawi 1996). Each week, we provide assignments that carry out practical exercises that encourage learners to put into practice the theories they learned. Our adult learners have the autonomy to carry out their given task, on very practical elements that can be utilized in the workforce.
Students will be encouraged to meet with instructors at least once every three weeks so that expectations and standards from both sides of the teaching team and the students are well integrated, coherent, and harmonized. Intimate feedback from the teaching team enhances student learning, and the instructor takes away with a solid knowledge and understanding of student’s progress.
Students will be assessed on a weekly basis, with weekly projects consisting 60% of the total grade, and the semester long final projects being worth 40%. As students are working in groups, accountability measures such as self-assessments and peer-evaluation sheets will be collected by every member of the group. Student projects would be assessed via a select rubric.
Our work was published by Springer Nature.
Climate Change Education. Springer. Expected 2020. Contributing author.
Curriculum Case 2: Computer Science Curriculum for Hawaiian Summer Camp.
Computer science fosters creativity and teaches students critical thinking skills to become proactive learners, so it is never too early to be introduced to the world of CS. (Blikstein & Mogdhadam, 2019). Through play based and experiential projects, students will develop problem solving, collaboration, persistence, and computational thinking skills. Ultimately, we cultivate a new generation of computer scientists who will become producers, and not merely consumers of digital goods in our increasingly technology driven world.
The children we are aiming to target is comprised primarily of kindergartners in South Korea and the United States. Some are ESL/ EFL speakers and may possess limited speaking or listening capabilities in their second tongue.
According to Jean Piaget, children go through stages of cognitive development resulting from biological maturation and environmental experience. He believed that knowledge is not simply transferred from teacher to student but actively constructed by the mind of the learner. Leaners are particularly likely to learn when they are actively engaged in making some type of external artifact, which they can reflect upon and share with others. Learning through the design process: designing, personalizing, and reflecting- are essential to the design of constructivist learning environments. (Brennan, 2015)
I incorporated this learner centered learning experiences in addition to scaffolding learning material and adding numerous social interactions as the core pedagogical foundations of the design of the curriculum.
The camp is located on Ala Moana area in Honolulu on Oahu Island. Fostering awareness, appreciation, understanding, and stewardship of Hawai‘i’s environment by educating children with an interactive and immersive approach was also a central theme of this learning experience. Through multiple site visitations and ultimately a final project that takes them to the beaches of Hanauma Bay, students will learn to appreciate and co-exisit with the nature of Hawaii.
The curriculum consists of 12 lesson plans and corresponding slides and/or worksheets (when necessary) organized in a neat folders for teachers to readily access. Teachers are provided with materials and resources as well as an overview of what they would teach, for how long, and how. Teachers should have creative agency to adjust activities and lessons to accommodate both the classroom culture and students’ technological experience and developmental levels. (Leake, & Lewis, 2017)
Students learn coding through two primary tools: Scratch Jr. and Kibo.
Scratch Jr. is a developmentally appropriate programming language for children ages five through seven. Using the Scratch Jr. iPad application, students can create their own interactive collages, animated stories, and games. Students are first exposed to the learning blocks in Scratch Jr. to ultimately understand building elements of computer science.
In the second week, students learn to code Kibo, a screen-free robotic toy. Students can create, design, and decorate this hands-on programmable robot helping them build constructive play, problem solving, and critical thinking capabilities.
Readings from the class allowed me to design a purposeful curriculum from the start. Best practices in education call for learning to be student centered and highly situated within their own contexts. With Hawaii as their backdrop, elements of nature are highlighted throughout the curriculum. Moana, turtles, and wildlife became a main feature of the coding experience.
Learning should also be project driven, allowing students the agency to be drivers of their own learning. In the second week, students become robot engineers as they decorate their KIBO turtles based on storybooks read together in class and are asked to program the turtles to waddle safely across the beach once they sense the moon light. (Bers, 2017).
There are plenty of instances scaffolding- students learn about loops in four different ways through unplugged dance games, Code.org exercises, Scratch Jr. challenges, and Kibo programming blocks. Reinforcement helps students intuit the concepts and helps them understand that these concepts can transcend cross-disciplines. Finally, learning always ends with design journal reflects at this camp.
Bers, M. U. (2017). Coding as a Playground: Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom (pp. 135-184). New York, NY: Routledge.
Blikstein, P., & Moghadam, S. (2019). Computing Education: Literature Review and Voices from the Field. In S. Fincher & A. Robins (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology, pp. 56-78). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brennan, K. (2015). Beyond Technocentrism: Supporting Constructionism in the Classroom. Constructivist Foundations, 10(3), 289-296.
Leake, M., & Lewis, C. M. (2017). Recommendations for Designing CS Resource Sharing Sites for All Teachers. SIGCSE 2017.