KDSL Global Releases Paper on Arts in MENA American Curriculum Schools

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DUBAI, UAE, 28 January 2019 – KDSL Global today released a paper which examines the implementation of the National Core Arts Standards in the USA and in the MENA region. Published in 2014 as a result of a three-year nationwide collaborative effort, the goal of these standards is to assist teachers in developing PreK-12 curriculum that guides the enhancement of artistic literacy among learners.  KDSL Global is a USA and UAE-based leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education businesses globally.

Lana Hallmark, arts consultant and paper author stated, “The opportunity to participate in telling the story of the National Core Arts Standards came at a timely moment for me. As I look ahead to the revision of the fine arts academic standards in Arkansas in the coming summer, having this fresh review of the background and goals of the NCAS will be invaluable and will certainly impact this important work for the students in my state.” She co-wrote the paper with Kevin Simpson (KDSL Global Managing Director) and Joyce Huser (the President of the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education). Huser said, “The 2014 National Core Art Standards (NCAS) for the fine arts have provided a rich and in-depth guide for meeting the learning needs of students at the PreK – 12th grade levels in my state of Kansas as well as in many other states across the nation.  They have also provided a resource for preparing pre-service teachers and guiding experienced educators in developing and providing a holistic arts education. With an emphasis on process-based learning, these standards have had a great impact on enhancing learning and applying real life application to learning.  Students love this.  While it is a challenge for teachers to transition from the old to the new standards, the professional development that has been provided across the nation has been invaluable in meeting the goals and intentions of these standards. I am pleased to have been a part of the writing process and continue to provide quality professional development in helping teachers understand these standards and how to implement them in their instruction.”

The paper features a list of arts resources, case studies, and results from surveys that would provide data regarding the implementation process in the USA. Questions educators and leaders responded to ranged from impression of the standards, timeline, professional development, and more.

The paper can be downloaded at: http://kdslglobal.com/Arts%20in%20MENA%20American%20Curriculum%20Schools.pdf

 

KDSL GLOBAL PRESS CONTACT
+971 52 542 7009
Kevin Simpson, kevin@kdslglobal.com
www.kdslglobal.com

 

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MENALearns Portal

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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 menalearns@gmail.com. The portal will launch later in September 2018.

 

 

Jenessa Dsilva
KDSL Global Intern
Website: www.kdslglobal.com
Twitter: @KDSL07
Facebook: @KDSL Global

 

KDSL Global Fellow at British Council Forum

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With a rapidly changing world, reflecting on how education brings learning experiences for the next generation to make a lasting difference becomes crucial. As part of the internal forum the British Council held recently in the Dead Sea, Jordan, our fellow Hiba Ibrahim was invited, in addition to another 6 experts in the fields of entrepreneurship, the arts, education and gender equality, to speak to the British Council MENA staff and lead individual workshops on challenges and opportunities the region is to face for the next decade.  Hiba has been involved in projects to create effective solutions to some of those stressing challenges and avenues for international organizations to pursue effective collaboration for creating change. Bringing her educational career, academic research and personal projects to the discussion, Hiba highlighted two main challenges the region’s education has continued to struggle with for decades. The first lies in the fact that national curriculums are still not equipping learners with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to be become independent engaged learners. Teachers are still heavily relying on textbooks as curriculum and content coverage is still the learning goal to achieve. Alternatively, learning goals should lie in empowering students with competences that enable them to transfer their learning into unique situations to solve challenges they experience in their local communities and beyond. Hiba then shared about her course project she has been building as part of her fellowship with KDSL Global, which aims to promote design thinking and collaboration strategies to become more effective problem-solvers and globally competent citizens.
The other challenge she highlighted was refugee students with no access to a quality basic education. This has caused a lot of tension in host communities and made 86,000 Syrian students in Jordan and 480,000 others in Lebanon vulnerable. Due to the on-going conflicts in Libya and Yemen, around 2,300,000 children are in need of education. For that, social-emotional learning and professional development programs for teachers and school leaders on social inclusion and dealing with PSTD are a must. Showcasing effective solutions, Hiba highlighted her work with Umnyat for Training, an NGO started by her mother that brings “Labeeb’s Friends”, a program that promotes social emotional learning through storytelling to schools in Jordan and other countries in the region such as Kuwait and Palestine. She also stressed on the positive impact of intercultural dialogue that bring students of different backgrounds to a space where they feel safe and open to share perspectives on topics such as culture, religion, daily life, community, immigration, conflict and challenges to learn how to be more understanding and accepting to one another.
The day was concluded with bringing those conversations into a workshop to inspire the organization’s staff to reflect on solutions they can drive with other stakeholders in the region to take part in the region’s growth and development for the upcoming decade.

What risk are you willing to take?

MidSchoolMath National Conference 2016

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.

Edcamp Sharjah

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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.

 

To learn more about Edcamp visit https://www.edcamp.org/ and Edcamp Sharjah go to https://edcamp.wikispaces.com/edcamp+Sharjah

 

Encouraging students to consider a career in teaching STEM*

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Profile on Julio Mendez: Science teacher, lifelong learner, and founder of the STEM Education Introductory Program

As well as being a busy Physics and Chemistry teacher in Chicago, Julio Mendez has founded the innovative STEM Education Introductory Program – it gives high school students the opportunity to earn college credit through a series of lectures and hands on teaching practice at a local middle school. We ask him all about the project, and how it came about.


You are a science teacher – where do you teach, and what led you down the path of both STEM and teaching?
 

I teach Physics, Chemistry and the Education 101 class at Perspectives Charter School – Joslin Campus, in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood. I also teach Engineering courses (Project Lead The Way curriculum on Saturdays) through Project SYNCERE. This is a non-profit in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood.

Teaching is a second career which found me more due to circumstance than through any active effort. I had returned to school for a Physics degree and was looking for a part time job when my wife suggested I look into Project SYNCERE. I decide to go interview and try it, and the rest is history, as they say. I fell in love with the kids’ ability to look past all the crap they are dealt and still seek knowledge. Having been raised on Chicago’s south side and dealing with a lot of the social issues they are living with made me relatable and my natural sarcastic demeanor and ability to look past slights allowed me to create good relationships with the students. I saw at once that this is where I needed to be and then I just found ways to keep pushing myself to learn, grow and sharpen my craft.

The STEM part is easier to explain: I’m a nerd. I love science and all that it tells us about the universe, I always have. I also understand the need for our communities to be better represented within these fields. We have been neglected for a long time and those who looked away are now realizing that they will need us in order for the world to continue its progress.

 

What inspired you to set up this program encouraging high school students to consider a career as science teachers?

When I was considering become even just a part time teacher, I started looking into the profession and the history of teaching and learning. I came to the realization that education is one of the oldest forms of community building that there is. Until recent human history, we have learned everything from the previous generations in our communities. From hunting and gathering, to planting and growing and so on, we learned it all from our elders, who did it before us and learned it from their elders.

When the opportunity with the Shell Oil Company and the Smithsonian Science Education Center and their call for applications came to my attention I knew the solution had to come from within the community, to create a new lineage of education. There is also a long tradition of finding “fixes” for our communities from outside, as if we hadn’t the talent or abilities to be the solutions ourselves. I have seen our children do some incredible things and come up with some huge ideas that would amaze the greatest thinkers, but because they don’t show high scores or even high rates of high school graduation, their ideas and grand thinking and potentials aren’t acknowledged.  Given all this I knew that the solution to a lack of science teachers of color had to come from our own ranks, the students of color. It was just a matter of convincing the kids they could be the solution and that being a teacher is a viable career (harder than it seems) and convince all the powers that be, this is a viable solution (harder than it should be).

 

Could you describe your aim in setting up the Education 101 program? Who is it designed for and what will they learn?

The biggest aim for the program is to give students of color the opportunity to see themselves as STEM subject teachers. Let them see a side of teaching that they don’t get to see; mostly because they have a very different experience with the teaching profession. They do not have the opportunity to see a lot of themselves in these roles, so they can’t identify with the profession. They just need to see they can and some might.

The students in the class are exposed to the history of education in the country, including the injustices our communities have gone through, the  definition of what a STEM teacher needs to be, exposure to informal science education, observing teachers, the complexity of the classroom, the preparation for lessons, reading and writing college level papers. This will be set around Socratic discussions and group projects that will be catered to the students’ abilities and raising expectations at every turn.

Was the creation of your program partly in response to the lack of diversity found in the teaching profession?

The creation of the program most definitely has to do with the lack of diversity in teaching. It is very difficult to be a teacher of color within a system which serves mostly students of color and yet we are an overwhelming numerical minority, especially in the STEM subjects.

 

A Student’s Perspective: Here’s what one of the course participants, Jada Woodard, has to say about the Program

Why did you apply?

I applied to the Education 101 course because I am thinking about being an educator. I thought it would give me the upper hand when I do attend college to study education. In addition, I wanted to find out if it was really something that I wanted to do.

What’s the best thing about the course?
The best thing about the course is that I am able to learn about the previous educational system, the current educational system, and the future of the educational system. I love that I am able to give my perspective as a student while learning the perspective of a teacher. We are able to talk about topics within the educational system that others aren’t willing to talk about, students of colors and teachers.

What’s the hardest part of the course?
The hardest thing about the course is actually putting yourself in the shoes of an educator. My student mindset slightly limits my ability to think like an educator. It is something that we as a class are working on to do.

What are you learning right now?
At the moment, we are learning how to effectively make lesson plans. In a month or sooner, we will able to teach this lesson plan/activity to a middle school class using the five aspects of an effective classroom that we have learned.
I think the reason there are not many STEM teachers of color is because of the lack of knowledge and resources. I think that in some schools STEM is a luxury. Although we do get taught science and math, it’s not taught or introduced in a way that makes it relevant to engineering and technology.

 

To learn more about the STEM Education Introductory Program contact Julio Mendez at jmendez@pcsedu.org.

 

*STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math