Reflections on the EARCOS Teacher Conference 2017

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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.

 

Craig Gabler, KDSL Global Science Consultant
gablerct@gmail.com
www.kdslglobal.com

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/.

 

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10 to know in education in the UAE in 2017

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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:

https://www.tlinternational.org/

 

10 to know in education in the UAE in 2017

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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.

 

Twitter: @profshady
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/vol7815
Website: http://profshad9.wixsite.com/saispd
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shady-elkassas-19935b7b
Blog: https://sites.google.com/site/profshady/