ES Where is our curriculum going?

Dear parents,
For over a year, I have been communicating with parents about the improvements that we are making to the elementary curriculum.  While describing curriculum may be very abstract, a recent event at our school may serve as a clear example.
We would like to congratulate our grade 4 students and staff for the outstanding “Vibrant Vietnam Film Festival” last Thursday night.  During the evening, short documentaries made by Grade 4 students were screened for the public.  Each documentary explored the question “How do Vietnamese culture and geographic features influence each other?”
The evening was a great example of a “Learning Celebration” at the end of one of our “Super Units”.  Some of the reasons it was successful:
  • Timing: Held at night, it was a special time easily attended by parents.
  • Setting: The auditorium was decorated, red carpet and all, to have a feeling of ‘Cannes Film Festival’
  • Authenticity: The celebration event, a film festival, was an approximation of something that occurs in the world outside of school.
  • Purpose: The overarching question, enduring understanding, and essential questions were communicated to the parents, by the students, at the beginning of the event.
  • Documents: The brochure for the evening was high quality and looked very professional.
  • Celebratory: Food and drink were provided, making the evening special.
  • Team Effort: All grade 4 teachers, TAs, and related specialists and coaches were actively involved in the unit.
  • Trans-disciplinary: The unit included English, Vietnamese, science, social studies, music, visual arts, and other subjects.  Evidence of these subjects was exhibited during the evening.
  • Technology: Use of technology was integrated in a purposeful, meaningful way.
  • Excitement: Students were honestly excited to share their accomplishments-  this was more than just a test.
As parents want to get a clear idea about the direction that our curriculum is headed, this playlist of videos from our grade 4 Super Unit Learning Celebration may help you visualize where we are going.
Dan Keller, PhD