Sunday, November 15, 2009
I discovered Curriki while I was reading Time Magazine (the paper version). There was an ad for the WISE Conference in Doha, Qatar that caught my attention because WISE means World Innovation Summit for Education. Hey, that was something I wanted to know more about. This is the first conference of WISE, which identifies its initiative as a “global event whose ambition is to create a new international multi-disciplinary platform to shape education models of the 21st century. (WISE, 2009)”
I checked out the individuals who won the awards in Pluralism, Sustainability and Innovation. There were various interesting educators from around the world –I encourage you to check them all out. This is how I discovered Curriki because Peter Levy from Curriki was awarded the prize in Innovation. What is Curriki?
Curriki, started in 2006, is a web-based platform dedicated to eliminating the educational divide throughout the world. Educators are able to find new curricular materials and upload their own lessons to add to the growing database. As stated in the flash video on the homepage, Curriki is the synthesis of “curricula or courses of study” with “wiki” a collaborative website where content is edited by members.” In Curriki, the community shares and collaborates openly on learning materials.
What makes this site remarkable is how well it is organized, the rating system to guide educators on their search for curricula, and the interactivity included in every lesson plan provided. In essence, it is an open platform for sharing your best teaching ideas globally that can be rated on quality of content and commented on by those who actually use a chosen lesson.
For this blog, I looked at two different lessons to get an understanding of the diversity and usefulness for education.
One of the “Recently Top-Rated” lessons was “One Hen: Microfinance for Kids.” This lesson is relatively simple because most of the curricula has already been done at the website www.onehen.org and the PDF provided is also on the website. However, this is a wonderful site that many teachers may not know about. I found it by looking for something in Social Studies but it was also listed under the area of Mathematics. That tagging of appropriateness for grade-level and subject area in addition to the rating system (it received a “3” meaning “exemplary”) helped me find and explore this lesson. Comments from teachers who have used this site add validity that might otherwise stop a teacher from integrating this idea into their lesson plans. It is risky to try new ideas when they are untested – the rating system and comments help teachers have confidence integrating these new ideas.
Science education is something being reviewed this year in our school district so I was interested in looking at what was available in this core subject. There is an entire curriculum uploaded on “Earth Systems” designed for middle and high school level students. This full course received a “3” from Curriki in its review and received an award on August 25th, 2009 for content. The course was submitted by Kim Handle who works in Professional Career Development in Education at the New York Hall of Science in the borough of Queens in New York City. In addition to this collection, she also created one on “Social Media for the Classroom” which I plan to check out in-depth later on. This is an extensive lesson plan with 5 major units (Our Physical Earth, Weather and Water, Earth’s Atmosphere, Life on Earth: Past and Present, and Forecasting the Future) and detailed lessons within each of the major units. I took a look at one random lesson to review it in-depth. Unit 3, Lesson 6 is on the “Carbon Cycle.” There is an introduction to the lesson, time frame, learning objectives, guiding questions, materials needed for the two activities, detailed instructions for the two activities and a conclusion and wrap-up. In addition, it is noted that this content exceeds NY standards, which is important in this age of testing. In addition to the lesson plans, a variety of links to external websites and videos are provided. There is one link for the carbon cycle from The Encyclopedia of Earth and a video from NASA called “Exploring Ozone.” This comprehensive course could be followed in its entirety or specific lessons and activities used that suited a teacher’s need. And then a teacher can comment on its usefulness for other teachers or the content creator to edit. I was impressed by the level of detail prepared with this single unit because it asked students to get actively involved with discovering the subject and makes good use of web resources.
This is a remarkable website that brings Web 2.0 to the classroom in a comprehensive way. Think about how we can share globally with educators around the world. In winning the award for Curriki, WISE stated that “Curriki is boldly challenging the traditional publishing paradigm and changing the way educators teach and the way students learn around the world. (WISE, 2009)” Curriki currently has almost 90,000 registered members from over 180 countries. Curriki hopes to become self-sufficient by 2014 and have over one million educators in its network. For those teachers out there, I encourage you to check it out and let me know what you discover.
Curriki. (2009). Retrieved November 15, 2009 from: http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Main/
World Innovation Summit for Education (2009). Retrieved November 15, 2009 from: http://www.wise-qatar.org/