2014 Winter Workshop for K-12 teachers in San Diego

December 13 of 2014: Golden Monkey Elementary Teacher Workshop

The NSF-CNH project team coordinated with SDSU’s International Studies Education Program (ISTEP) and its Confucius Institute to hold a curriculum workshop for a selected group of elementary school teachers from San Diego (Figure 1). This targeted effort was an abbreviated version of previous educational workshops run through the NSF project itslef and is aimed at producing a highly developed and standards-based curricular unit for dissemination through both the Confucius institute and ISTEP to elementary teachers all over the county.

Fig-2014_TeacherWorkshop1Figure 1. Participants of the Workshop

ISTEP director Dr. Emily Schell led the workshop while Dr. Li An and Ph.D student Shuang Yang provided project content and information (Figure 2). After getting the teachers up to speed on the project components and status in the morning, the group focused on outlining and planning out the unit to be developed. The first step to creating the unit was deciding what core ideas, concepts and themes to focus on then create a logical order of lessons to comprise the unit. While each lesson will be unique they build and scaffold onto each other to create a cohesive and in-depth unit. This process started with a lengthy and very spirited brainstorming of ideas and interests, followed by connecting these ideas to project resources and materials. The teachers then started the alignment with standards and grade appropriate themes. From this brainstorm came some specific goals for lesson development (Figure 3). Going along with the lessons, there will be several diverse assessments for evaluation of student learning. The continued creation of supporting materials and curation of project resources for teachers will help support not only these teachers’ creation and implementation of the unit but will also offer opportunities for them to implement a variety of extension activities and explorations.

Fig-2014_TeacherWorkshop2Figure 2. Introducing the Project by Dr. An (PI)

Following the creation of the unit action plan, each participant will be tackling a piece of the unit. The group will reconvene in several months in order to conglomerate the lessons into a cohesive unit that will then enter the editing phase before initial implementation (alpha testing). Full dissemination of the unit will follow. The basic structure of the initial curriculum development is outlined below.

Tentative Golden Monkey Unit
-Overview Introduction lesson
-Environment/Ecosystem lesson
-Human/Environment Interactions (CNH) lesson
-Conservation/Actionable learning lesson
-Summative project

Fig-2014_TeacherWorkshop3Figure 3. Brainstorming for Lesson Development

This workshop aimed at creating a unit that is highly structured around the common core English and social studies literacy. In addition, the California state standards for the target grade levels (2-4) will be aligned with the common core. With the current national focus on STEM education the unit’s interdisciplinary approach will incorporate these concepts and focuses throughout. This curriculum, along with the previous work of the projects other teachers completed, will compile a variety of work to be disseminated and to help raise nation-wide awareness of this NSF project and its connection to a variety of subject areas in K-12 education.