KDSL Global is a partner with EDvolve Global.
KDSL Global is a partner with EDvolve Global.
The Mawada Project is an organization aimed at creating service learning opportunities and experiences for youth in the United Arab Emirates. I had the chance to interview the founder Noha Mahdi. She holds a Master’s of Education degree in Educational Neuroscience from Harvard University, a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biochemistry from McGill University, and a Graduate Diploma in Clinical Research from McGill University.
What made you choose this path? Why did you want to be involved in this line of work?
My interest in education started when I was very young, I just didn’t realize it at the time. Ever since high school, I would play an active role in my school’s teaching and tutoring programs, often making suggestions and giving advice to senior administrators on how to improve the learning experience for myself and my peers. Fast forward 10 years and I finally realized that I had a passion for all things related to education and learning. I believe that educating the heart and mind holds the key to so many of our needs and challenges around the world today, and I wanted to use that key to make a difference in the Middle East.
I worked in education consulting for several years in the UAE before deciding to launch my start-up, The Mawada Project (themawadaproject.org). It started when I realized the limitations of experiential learning opportunities in the UAE, as well as the lack of service-learning opportunities, soft skills learning and character development for our young population. Students spend most of their time between the walls of their schools, and have very little opportunity to engage with the real world or have meaningful interactions with people from different backgrounds and demographics and give back to their communities. They also often graduate from high school with a lack of the kind of soft skills that will help them throughout their lives. I decided that community service was the best way to tackle these challenges, combining a number of different skills training into one experience.
And that’s what we do today. We find and create ways for children to do good and to serve those who are in need in the community whilst teaching them useful skills that they can use for themselves and that will help them in all aspects of their lives.
To what extent do you believe that this program shapes who a young person is going to be?
We know that the experience of serving others and meeting the needs of those less privileged or less fortunate in one’s community has a tremendous impact on shaping character. By engaging in our programs and in the type of service opportunities we create, we deeply believe that a young person not only gains social, emotional, communication and leadership skills, but also confidence, compassion, kindness and a sense of purpose. And the science shows that these skills and characteristics are crucial for future job success.
Those who engage in these kinds of activities gain social awareness and a deeper sense of social responsibility and global citizenship, all while learning more about different career paths and industries. It’s hard to quantify or capture the impact of such experiences, but we know it when we see it, and those who participate in our programs feel it too.
What is your favourite event or project your organization has held and why?
We’ve worked on a number of projects so far, but we’re most proud of two in particular. One was a summer program, in collaboration with the Sharjah Science Museum, where we had our teenage participants learn how to be mentors and teachers to younger children who needed educational support. We watched them transform and take responsibility for their teaching which was great to see!
The second is our program called “The Gift”. We’ve worked with a number of student groups, schools and organizations, including the Sharjah Girl Guides and the American School of Dubai, to teach children how to make hand-made dolls, write letters and design gift boxes that are then sent to refugee children in countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Greece. This was done in collaboration with The Big Heart Foundation of Sharjah. We’re proud of the shift we see in participants when we have the conversation with them about the lives of refugee children, the challenges they must be facing and our responsibility to do what we can, even if only in a small way, to help make their lives easier and better.
KDSL Global Intern
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Makers Builders is a program that trains young people in the field of technology. I had the chance to interview Amir Yazdanpanah, founder and CEO, and asked him some questions about his company’s focus and direction.
How important do you believe these technology skills are to the growth of the next generation?
Technology and science continue to play a rapidly growing role when it comes to everything that consumers purchase and corporates create. Therefore future jobs will require a skilled workforce that is not only able to use technology but also knows how to create and innovate with it.
Are there any advancements or new technologies you wish to incorporate into your program such as VR?
The phenomenally fast-paced advancements in 3D printing, coding, robotics, VR/AR, smart devices, machine learning and so on is putting stress on traditional education and teaching methods as well as curriculum content. This new generation needs to be learning a lot of new skills in order to be ready for the next generation of jobs in 5 to 10 years. We strive to develop engaging “digital making” programs and courses that can capture the interest of children at an early age and encourage them to pursue learning paths in STEM.
What is the most important aspect to you about your programs: the fun, the education or being family oriented?
We try to make our program seem like “Edutainment” – we want it to be fun and engaging while educational at the same time. For example, coding is learned by doing. Students get to learn coding by building programs that change games they already play and are very attached to. We want to make them aware of and excited about the possibilities at their fingertips so that they be easily empowered to create. Learning about fundamentals, concepts and architecture comes with age-appropriate programs.
For more on Makers Builders visit:
KDSL Global Intern
Facebook: KDSL Global
When I started teaching, some twenty-five years ago, the IT department of a school was most likely staffed by teachers who took some kind of interest in computers. Consequently, they would end up being the most qualified on staff to lead that department and teach the technology curriculum. We have come a long way in the last two decades. Now, rather than needing to be staffed by default, school IT departments have become an integral part of every aspect of our educational institutions. In fact, much of the current soul-searching we are experiencing in education is driven by our need to integrate technology further.
Although we often think of educational institutions as places where students learn innovation and creativity, where they acquire knowledge and skills, and where they prepare for life in the ‘real’ world, it would be fair to say that education is one of the areas that have been most unwilling to change and adapt over time. The exponential growth of technology is forcing it to change – its centuries old structure is no longer fitting with our current reality.
Sir Ken Robinson is one of the most recognized figures in the current reevaluation of education. His work relates to three main themes1: we are living in times of revolution, we need to think differently about ourselves, and we need to think differently about our organizations. These themes are affecting everyone – educators, students, parents, governments, industry leaders, etc. How are you, as an educator, adapting to current times of change? What will be your role in newly defined ways of educating students? Are you focused forward or resisting change?
The challenges brought by technology, if considered from a different perspective, are actually gifts that have the potential to actualize human potential like never before. The ability to derive meta-data can help to personalize instruction in ways that can create engagement and relevance for every student. Gamification is most likely to address issues of motivation in young learners. More and more individuals demand personalized forms of consumption and this will soon spread into education. Big corporations are addressing this through personalized marketing and this practice is becoming the norm.
New methods of delivery allow for learning to take place anywhere on the planet. EdX, Khan Academy, and Udemy are examples of platforms that are showing that it is possible to effectively accommodate virtual learning. Most tertiary institutions have invested in creating platforms that allow for distance learning – a new form of consuming educational product and services that is proving to be very lucrative for them. It would be foolish to think that the outdated structure of education will survive the ongoing soul-searching. Some are finding it difficult to imagine anything different. Keep in mind that things can change fast!
A friend of mine was a graphic designer who was trained decades ago. Before the accessibility of computers and software as we know it today, pictures were taken, developed, modified, fonts needed to be figured out, layout of text was a challenge, and so on. A project that took weeks to complete back then can now be completed by a grade 6 student in an hour or two. My friend spent the last decade of his career bitter that his skills and knowledge had been made redundant by a few software packages. Of course his experience counted for much but people were no longer willing to pay top money when they felt they could produce results themselves on their own computers. His unwillingness to change made him redundant!
The future is most likely to see personalized content and delivery become the norm. We already have the technology to accommodate this type of learning. Denial is not an option. Rather than fear these empowering changes, use them to motivate yourself in continuing to be a life-long learner.
There are many ways that you can be at the forefront of changes in education. There are an unprecedented number of teachers who are choosing to become entrepreneurs. In its redefinition of what and how we teach, education is rife with opportunities to the would be ‘teacherpreneur’. Expanding your teaching into one of the major online platforms is one way of reaching tens of thousands of students, and this comes with the ability to monetize your efforts. Consultancy is another area that becomes more accessible as the Internet allows you to market yourself in ways that were not possible only a couple of decades ago. There are many companies already offering support to teachers who choose the entrepreneurial path – a quick Google search will keep you busy figuring out which one is best to accompany you on your journey of expansion.
Change is always a difficult process for many and a golden opportunity for a few. Be one of the few and expand your skills, knowledge and opportunities by embracing some of the changes currently happening in education. Remember one of the many graduation speeches you have heard during your career – you know, the ones that encourage students to take wings and fly into exciting future possibilities. Be one of those people who do just that. Make a difference in education by daring to challenge yourself into helping define the new educational paradigm currently emerging in the world!
Michel Leroux is an international teacher who has taught mathematics in nine different countries. He is the co-founder of Educators Home Share (www.educatorshomeshare.com), a home sharing platform that caters to educators worldwide. He currently lives in Indonesia with his wife Christine, who is also a teacher.
Note 1: http://sirkenrobinson.com/work/
In celebration of ten years serving the global education community we are highlighting ten to know in education in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in 2017. The UAE was selected since the founder has been based here the majority of the last ten years. Each person will be shared throughout this year. Our tenth person to know is Jeffrey Smith.
Jeffrey Smith is a Dubai-based business consultant specializing in K-12 education resources. He has over 15 years of experience forging partnerships with schools and organizations throughout the United States and across multiple countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Jeffrey is currently CEO of Copperstone Education. Copperstone represents the world-renowned and fully accredited Calvert Distance Learning curriculum for homeschool families and blended learning options in partnership with schools throughout the MENA region. Copperstone also offers Walkabouts by ActivEd and the Envision IELTS for Teachers program, which is thought to be the first IELTS preparation course developed specifically for teachers.
Prior to his current role, Jeffrey was Founding Director of Sylvan Learning in the UAE and Chief Operations Officer for Sylvan throughout the MENA Region. He is recognized for his extraordinary ability to develop “win-win” collaborations where the needs of all stakeholders are considered when developing solutions.
Jeffrey’s record of success also includes developing a partnership with the US Department of Defense to provide college preparation courses for military families at the Fort George Meade Army Base in the state of Maryland and his creation of several free community outreach projects here in the UAE, including Read Across the Gulf and the Community Service Initiative. Jeffrey has served on the Governing Board at North American International School for the past 5 years. He is also known for his volunteer work in the education community such as the Real Men Read campaign in the UAE.
Follow Copperstone Education here:
Dr. Craig Gabler, our USA based science consultant, reflects on his recent experience as a facilitator in Asia. Gabler has been serving schools and science educators around the world with KDSL Global since 2014. He served as a writer for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), worked on Washington state science standards writing teams, and spent several summers as Mentor Teacher in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pre-Service Teacher program at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
In April I had the opportunity to present at the EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Schools) Teacher Conference in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Teachers and administrators from over 100 schools were in attendance at this 3-day conference.
For those who know me, it goes without saying that some of my presentations dealt directly with the NGSS and how to make those standards come to life in the classroom. I also had the chance to engage attending science teachers in a session targeting formative assessment and in another session on strategies for engaging students in engineering. I was blessed with not only excellent attendance in these sessions, but also with attendees who were highly engaged in the learning opportunity.
The theme for the EARCOS conference was “Connecting Global Minds.” I would like to draw from that theme for a brief reflection on my experiences in both the Middle East and East Asia. In supporting science education, I have had the pleasure to work with teachers of science from all across the United States, from across the Middle East region and now from East Asia. What struck me while in Malaysia was the fact that teachers of science from around the globe are indeed connected. We all share a deep desire for our students to succeed and to value science. What I have found is, regardless of region, that that desire drives us to ask the same hard questions – about engaging students with the NGSS, about encouraging students to have an interest in STEM, and about managing and preparing our classrooms for that success.
As science educators we are a part of a global network, united by our passion for science and for our students. I celebrate that there are gracious and giving teachers of science across the globe. I also celebrate that there are organizations like KDSL Global and EARCOS, to name just two, that bring learning opportunities and resources to the network. As we continue on this path of serving our students, it is important to reach out to those organizations and to our colleagues for continuing support. Don’t go alone.
Please know that KDSL Global and I are here to support your science journey.
To read the KDSL Global white paper on NGSS in MENA American Curriculum schools visit http://kdslglobal.com/NGSS%20in%20MENA%20American%20Curriculum%20Schools.pdf.
To learn more about EARCOS visit https://www.earcos.org/.
In celebration of ten years serving the global education community we are highlighting ten to know in education in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in 2017. The UAE was selected since the founder has been based here the majority of the last ten years. Each person will be shared throughout this year. Our ninth person to know is Dr. Sudha Sunder.
Sudha started her teaching career in 1999 and has taught students from grade 2 through grade 12. She currently serves as an Affiliate Consultant for the Council of International Schools and Associate Consultant for KDSL Global.
A post-graduate diploma holder in computer science, and a Master’s degree holder in Business Administration and Accountancy, she became a part of the IB community in 2006 and taught the IB Course Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS), and soon became an examiner in the subject. Although Sudha was quickly drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of this subject and the IB philosophy of teaching for deep conceptual understanding versus the regurgitation of factual knowledge, she also experienced and resonated with the challenges teachers faced in putting curriculum design principles (that they appreciated in theory) into practice.
Inspired by her own experiences, Sudha decided to certify with Dr. Lynn Erickson in concept-based curriculum and instruction, at the Lynn Erickson Institute in Whitefish, Montana, USA, in 2011. Ever since, she has become a much sought after facilitator in many IB schools for coaching teachers in concept-based curriculum and instruction. Currently, her work spans over seven countries.
An introduction to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) happened while she was serving as the head of the curriculum committee at the Universal American School in Dubai, UAE. As a curriculum design enthusiast, she was very drawn towards the three-dimensional structure of the NGSS and the NGSS’s potential to foster interdisciplinary teaching at the conceptual level (through the crosscutting concepts) and to put into classroom practice the factual and conceptual elements in science learning. She took on every opportunity that would allow engagement in understanding, unpacking and debating on the potential challenges involved in adopting and implementing the NGSS.
In 2013, she presented a paper at the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Common Core Conference convened in Dubai. This was followed by a number of hands-on interactive workshops at conferences and schools that particularly focused on enabling teachers unpack and understand the crosscutting concept component of the NGSS. During this time, she also published an article titled “Fostering Scientific Inquiry through the NGSS” in the Teach UAE Magazine.
It was around this time that Sudha became a Curriculum Reviewer in the IB, Maryland, USA, for a pilot project called “Building a Quality curriculum”. Through this project Sudha reviewed and offered feedback for PYP curriculum documents (both Units of Inquiry and Programmes of Inquiry) for schools in the United States, Europe and India.
The more Sudha mentored, trained, and worked with teachers in curriculum and instruction, the stronger she was convinced that while teachers understand and appreciate the value and notion of teaching for conceptual understanding, putting this into practice in the classroom is indeed challenging. Sudha strongly believes that understanding curriculum design principles involved in three-dimensional concept-based curriculum and instruction is key to addressing this challenge. At present, Sudha continues to present workshops and papers to empower teachers in American IB schools across countries such as Kuwait, Oman, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, UAE, Qatar and India.
As a part-time doctoral research student at the University of Bath in the UK (since 2008), Sudha also decided to explore teacher perceptions in school-based curriculum development initiatives as her doctoral dissertation, which she eventually defended in 2015, with none other than Professor Jeff Thompson and Professor David Phillips from Oxford. Sudha believes that she cleared her viva with no further recommendations or modifications is testimonial to the many teacher voices she has gathered over her work spanning over 7 years in IB/international schools. Sudha’s doctoral dissertation Abstract is now published on SAGE. Sudha writes and publishes articles on the role of ongoing professional development for international educators. A recent one can be accessed here: http://www.cois.org/page.cfm?p=3078
Sudha believes that her own journey of learning and transitioning as a teacher in the IB programme and her passion for fostering scientific inquiry amongst students through real-world connection and sustained inquiry has been instrumental in digging deeper into the NGSS. This, along with her strong understanding of curriculum design principles involved in unpacking and implementing three-dimensional curricular frameworks provided her with the knowledge, understanding, skills and experience to explore the breadth and the depth of the NGSS, particularly so in helping IB educators see how the two complement each other in a powerful “synergistic” (Erickson, 2012) fashion. Commissioned by the IB, Sudha has co-authored the IB-NGSS Dual Implementation Report now available for IB schools in the US, available here: http://blogs.ibo.org/blog/2016/12/09/aligning-the-next-generation-science-standards- ngss-with-ib-curricula/
Sudha’s wider research interest includes the role of ongoing professional development for 21st century teachers. Sudha presented her research findings in 2015 at the American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies (AAACS) at the George Washington University, D.C. She has now been invited to serve as a member of the AAACs Task force.
More about Sudha’s work in curriculum and Instruction can be accessed here:
In celebration of ten years serving the global education community we are highlighting ten to know in education in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in 2017. The UAE was selected since the founder has been based here the majority of the last ten years. Each person will be shared throughout this year. Our eighth person to know is Shady Elkassas.
Since his childhood, Shady Elkassas looked forward to a career in teaching and is committed to maintaining high standards and practices in the education of young people. He has a Master’s of Science in Education, Executive Management Diploma, and a Bachelor’s of Science.
Shady believes that the capstone of education is to give every student equal opportunities to learn. For this reason, the true educator is the one who acknowledges, respects, and appreciates students’ diverse backgrounds, learning styles, intelligence, and abilities. From this perspective, he has centered his teaching repertoire around this idea and searches for the best way to meet students’ individual needs. As a head of department, he communicates the same message to his team members. He articulates a vision and mission for the science department that meets the short and long term goals. Additionally, he has taken the initiative to adopt the project-based learning and inquiry based learning methodologies to create a new foundation of STEM learning in his school. Shady strongly believes that leadership has a strong influence on education reform. This vision is shared both inside and outside of the school. He has been selected to be a speaker at TEDx and three international education conferences such as Global Educational Supplies and Solutions Exhibition (GESS) 2016 & 2017 and Fatih Educational Summit in Turkey 2016. Shady was also a GESS education award finalist for 2016 & 2017.
For the past few years Shady has been associated with Sharjah American International School. He joined as High School Physics Teacher and currently handles dual responsibilities as Head of Science Department and Academic Coordinator. As Academic Coordinator he oversees departmental recruitment, staff and faculty training, and organizes academic events. As Departmental Head, he ensures departmental objectives are met, facilitate quality education for students, and supervise staff. For a significant duration, Shady taught Physics and was successful in generating a growing interest in the subject among students. He delivered interactive lectures, solved student difficulties, and completed all course-work in time. With Robotics being of particular interest, Shady led the School Robotics team and supported them win many awards at international events.
KDSL Global Teacher Fellowship
KDSL Global, based in the United Arab Emirates and in the United States, is looking to provide fellowships for educators each year. We are a leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education businesses globally. The fellowship responsibilities will include:
KDSL Global seeks two resourceful, intelligent, detail-oriented, hard-working individuals who are capable of excelling in an intellectually stimulating work environment. One fellow will be based in the USA and one fellow will be based in the MENA region. Research experience is desired, strong writing skills a must, and Internet experience greatly welcome. The time commitment is 3-5 hours virtually a week for this one year volunteer fellowship. Please browse the KDSL Global website at www.kdslglobal.com and www.kdslglobalwordpress.com for more information about the organization.
To learn more about our current fellow who will launch a new website soon please visit https://kdslglobal.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/kdsl-global-teacher-fellow-c-monique-childress/.
Individuals interested in a KDSL Global Teacher Fellowship should send a CV and a writing sample about an idea they have that will disrupt the education field to Kevin Simpson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Select candidates will be interviewed. This fellowship begins on 1 September.