During 2018 the MENALearns Portal will be a new resource for educators at American curriculum schools. Our KDSL Global intern had a chance to chat with the team this past summer about what the portal is, how it is different and future plans.
What is MENALearns?
MENALearns will be an online portal for educators at American curriculum schools based in the Middle East and North Africa region. This is a collaborative effort with Xblended and KDSL Global. It is for educators with resources reviewed, created, and shared by educators. Tools and resources will be related to curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional learning, and more. Six educators from six countries reviewed the initial portal and provided feedback to the team. We call this group our first educators. During the summer of 2018 we collaborated with an educator from the region who served during the month of July with the purpose of reviewing and selecting additional resources for K-12 educators on a wide range of topics. The site will launch later in September 2018. A free introductory webinar will be held on 1 October at 6pm Dubai time. Users will have the option to become a member of the community as a MENALearns Teacher, MENALearns Leader, or a MENALearns School. Special rates for new members will run from October- December 2018.
There are many online platforms and resources nowadays. How is MENALearns different from these?
This is very true! We wanted to craft a resource that was specific to educators who are based in the MENA region. Often there are resources from the states with references and images that students and educators may not be able to connect with. Educators who we spoke to openly shared this information. We wanted to have a blended approach with materials from the states along with resources provided from educators in the region. This will grow over time as we encourage educators and leaders to share resources from their schools and classrooms. Also, we asked American curriculum educators in the region where they go to online to access resources to use in planning. A plethora of websites was listed. We then asked what if there was one place where they could access most of the sites they used. All were interested and first users talked about how organized, comprehensive, and easy to navigate the portal was.
What are the future plans for this portal?
We will see what the future holds. As we receive feedback we will make changes and update information as there is always something new to learn. Our short-term plans is to make as many American curriculum schools and educators aware of the portal as possible in the MENA region. In the future we hope all will be a MENALearns School.
To stay updated on MENALearns email firstname.lastname@example.org. The portal will launch later in September 2018.
KDSL Global Intern
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KDSL Global is pleased to announce our new fellow. The fellowship focuses on writing, leadership and launching a new education idea.
Samantha Rodriguez was born and raised in Long Island, New York and graduated from Providence College where she studied Public and Community Service and Political Science. Being the first in her family to graduate from college, the value of education was constantly emphasized. Samantha has spent the better part of her life working with youth in different contexts. Since graduating from Providence, Samantha has taught Math in Tsakane, South Africa, was a 9th Grade English Teacher in the South Bronx, has been a College Access Counselor, and is now a Service Learning Program Coordinator for buildOn in Chicago, Illinois. She simultaneously attends graduate school at the University of Illinois at Chicago working towards an MEd in Youth Development. Samantha has always believed that all students are worthy of a strong educational foundation as well as a strong support system that helps them become successful. With her MEd in Youth Development, it is Samantha’s goal to help create spaces that intentionally provide youth with opportunities to develop their interests, skills, and abilities.
ABOUT KDSL Global
KDSL Global is a USA and UAE-based leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education businesses globally. To find out more information visit http://www.kdslglobal.com.
Devin Evans is a 10th grade English Language Arts teacher at Butler College Prep Charter High School on Chicago’s far South Side. He serves as co-10th grade team lead and master teacher for Butler’s humanities department. He graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Social Science Education and History and is pursuing a Masters in English Language Arts from Relay Graduate School of Education.
Prior to teaching, Devin worked as a Program Associate for their Workforce Development Center at the historic Chicago Urban League. Devin is a mentor to numerous young men and women across Chicago and is a committed teacher and social justice advocate. Here are his answers to questions about teaching and learning:
How does Butler College Prep help students to become aware of issues like social justice? Is it woven into their learning materials and approach?
There are numerous ways students are aware of social justice issues. One way is through curriculum. Teachers are highly encouraged to add into curriculum projects and content that is rooted an a social justice issue. Whether it’s discovering how much led is in water for Chemistry and figuring out ways to advocate for clean water for Chicago residents or when teachers and staff put on a Town Hall meeting where the entire school comes together to put on an informational and call to action on a pertinent social justice issue. Social Justice is Butler College Prep.
How does Butler College Prep emphasize the arts as well as social justice?
Butler has a way of celebrating the academic side of students and their art. We celebrate academic success with special dinners, celebrations, and opportunities. We celebrate the artistic talent with the same level of appreciation. In many ways students automatically intertwine each interchangeably.
Is it difficult to balance the arts with the amount of learning students must achieve in other subjects to get ready for college?
It can be difficult; however, Butler has found a way to balance both. Students have electives that are arts focused with regular courses and we also have enrichment classes after school that focus on more arts as well. We push academic and artistic and social justice into one campaign to be perfected.
To learn more about Butler College Prep visit http://butlercollegeprep.noblenetwork.org/.
MidSchoolMath was founded as a direct result of extensive research into the US math crisis and the complexity of the problem. It is the first company to answer the quintessential question posed by every middle school math student: “When am I going to ever use this?” At the National Conference held during 2-3 March 2018 in Sante Fe, New Mexico, Megan LeBleu gave a talk to educators about the importance of taking risk for math students. Below you will find this talk.
I taught math for 14 years at a middle school in Albuquerque, NM. My colleagues and I spent our planning time modifying our curriculum quite a bit, trying to make lessons accessible to and interesting for our students. In general, though, I was still teaching how I was taught. I do, we do, you do. I was fearful that my students would fail if I didn’t “teach” them first. I didn’t really value what they brought to the table, regarding their own intuition and creative problem solving.
But then 4 years ago, I attended a MidSchoolMath PD. I learned about story being used for learning, about these ideas of productive failure and productive struggle, and it made a lot of sense to me. I was also exposed to the idea of global math education… there ARE actually teachers, math students, and people outside of the U.S… all around the world…
It was then, 4 years ago, that I took a risk that ultimately led my students (and myself) down a path of discovery and learning. I accepted a challenge to create a math story project… a story in which math is embedded as a useful tool. Had I ever thought of using story in math class? No. Had I ever even seen story used in a math class? No. Not like this. The concept was completely foreign to me. Yet I saw value in it for my students… mathematical value and cultural value.
So, I dove into the unknown and created Expedition Everest, where my students would be mountaineers on Everest, encountering significant math problems on their way to the summit. Now let me tell you… My students live in a high-poverty area, riddled with gang violence and drug use. They rarely think outside their neighborhood, much less outside the country. While creating Expedition Everest, and even after, people questioned the relevancy of the topic to my students. How is Mount Everest relevant to students in Albuquerque? And maybe it isn’t…. initially….
But, by taking a risk, stretching myself, thinking outside the textbook… I was able to create mathematically enriching tasks…. Tasks that allowed my students to question, to use their intuition, to offer creative solutions….Tasks that were so intriguing, my students were willing to try, fail, struggle, and persist until they reached a solution. All the while, they were honing their math skills, discussing strategies and ideas, AND at the same time, they were learning about the tallest mountain in the world, about the Sherpa of Nepal, and about an animal called a yak. Their world was now bigger than it was before. And I, I had never had so much fun teaching.
We don’t all have to take our students to Mount Everest as mountaineers. Nor do we have to take them to Myanmar as secret agents. But we can do SOMETHING. Maybe it’s just restructuring the curriculum we currently have. And we might fail. But so did Edwin Link, and his pilots…at first. If WE don’t have the courage to take risks, and to push ourselves to explore the unknown, how can we expect our students to do the same?
As you go forward throughout the school year, consider this: what risk are you willing to take, to give your students, and yourself, the chance to fail, struggle, persist, and grow… as learners, and as global contributors?
Megan LeBleu is a National Board Certified teacher who taught math at a high-poverty middle school in Albuquerque, New Mexico for 14 years. During those years she became a master at collaborating with fellow teachers, making math curriculum engaging and accessible to students. She is highly skilled at integrating technology in the classroom and is well versed in the Common Core math standards.
To learn more about MidSchoolMath visit http://www.midschoolmath.com/.
Check out this article about Megan and her math classroom https://www.abqjournal.com/348546/math-made-fun-with-trip-calculations.html.
Edcamps are free, organic, participant-driven, un-conferences that empower educators to maximize professional learning experiences and peer networks. It’s not just for one day it’s a professional development program and a movement. Edcamp Sharjah was held during November 2017 in the United Arab Emirates. The lead organizer was Dima Yousef. KDSL Global asked Dima about the recent Edcamp Sharjah.
What are sample topics that educators discussed at Edcamp Sharjah?
Edcamp is an open, participant-driven unconference. The content is proposed and provided by the participants, and is often determined on the day of the event.
Some of the topics that were suggested and discussed were Innovation in the Classroom, Classroom Management, Gifted Students, College & Career Readiness, Student & Teacher relationships, Building a Fun Classroom, Project Based Learning, Assessment, Moral Education, and Student Centered Learning.
What were the outcomes of the day?
Teachers, even student volunteers, were so engaged and excited about sharing ideas, tools and best practices. Because of Edcamp Sharjah, some participants asked me if we could have more Edcamps organized at their schools. The energy and the enthusiasm to learn and share knowledge is exactly why I am passionate about organizing professional development opportunities such as Edcamp.
How is Edcamp making a difference in educator’s lives?
The unique structure of an Edcamp gives teachers and participants a voice and a choice. It allows them to share their experiences and knowledge in a friendly relaxed environment. Edcamps, unlike traditional conferences, are about having conversations, sharing ideas, asking questions, and, most importantly, making connections.