Zemelman, Daniels and Hyde (2012) point out that one of the ways of ensuring effective dispensation of knowledge is through effective planning. This will ensure that both the teacher and the student are on course towards achieving the specific and overall goals of the learning process.
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According to Zemelman, Daniels and Hyde (2012) the main objective of any learning process should be to ensure that the teacher has managed to pass on knowledge effectively onto the students. The student on their part has been able to grasp and understand the knowledge being passed onto them. There are many tools at the teacher’s disposal that are aimed at assisting the teacher achieve this objective. One such tool is the curriculum map (Zemelman, Daniels & Hyde, 2012).
Zemelman, Daniels and Hyde (2012) note that a curriculum map is an indispensable document that outlines the topics to be covered, the methods through which the teacher will use to effect dispensation of learning, objectives of the learning process, and methodologies for assessing the student’s progress. The curriculum map that I have used outlines six activities that will be employed in order to ensure that the outlined objectives of the learning process are attained, and the six activities are lecturing, descriptions, question and answering, discussions, group activities and internet research.
These activities are a reflection of the various education theories including behaviorism, cognitive and constructivism educational theories. Behaviorism educational theory asserts that learners have the inherent ability to learn from their environment. This is only when the conditions they are placed in is a conducive learning environment (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2012).
Olson and Hergenhahn (2012) point out that behaviorism applies the use of measurable or observable behavior to assess the impact of the learning activity. The second theory, cognitive theory, differs from behaviorism because it places more emphasis on the learner’s cognitive ability., for instance, the ability to memorize and store information, as opposed to merely assessing observable behavior (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2012). The third and final theory is the constructivist theory.
According to Olson and Hergenhahn (2012), this theory emphasizes the role of the leaner (with the teacher merely providing guidance) in constructing their own knowledge. Olson and Hergenhahn (2012) assert that constructivism theory differs from the other two since it focuses on the learner, as opposed to the teacher as the individual who plays a significant role as far as knowledge construction is concerned. A look at the six learning activities as outlined by the map reveals a close relationship between each of these activities with the three aforementioned educational theories.
The first activity, which is lecturing, applies the use of constructivism theory. This is because it accords the learner with an opportunity to construct their own knowledge based on the teacher’s guidance. The second activity, which is description, is more closely linked with cognitive education theory. This is because this activity involves the teacher describing a phenomenon and relying on the cognitive abilities of the student, to comprehend and memorize this description (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2012).
Thirdly, the question and answering format applies the use of behaviorism education theory, and this is because this activity involves the teacher applying the use of observable behavior (the student’s capacity to respond correctly to questions) as a tool to assess and dissipate knowledge. The fourth activity, which is discussion, also applies the use of behaviorism as the teacher discusses with the students.
He observes their input and responses to questions (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2012). The fifth and sixth activities which are group activities and internet search respectively both apply the use of constructivism since the activity relies on the student, to engage in activities that will assist them in constructing their own knowledge regarding the issues that are being addressed (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2012).
In planning these six activities, I was guided by the need to have an all inclusive curriculum map that ensured that all educational theories shave been incorporated in the dispensation of knowledge to student thus enhancing the wholesomeness of the learning experience itself. The plan is also in line with the best practices recommendations that seek to encourage both the teacher and student participation in the learning process so as to increase the overall effectiveness of the process (Udelhofen, 2005).
In addition to ensuring compliance with best practices approach, the map through its activities, is also in compliance with the institution’s overall learning objectives. This involves enhancing the competency of the students in various areas that are addressed by the learning process. Some of the illustrations of this alignment in objectives are contained in the standards that the map aims at achieving on a week by week basis.
This includes the enhancing the ability of students to use writing, listening and speaking to foster understanding, ability of students to enhance their literary response, and expression. Finally, they should be able to use the writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills to carry out a critical analysis and evaluation of different subjects. These three objectives in terms of standards to be achieved illustrate how the map seeks to enhance both the specific and overall competencies of students.
My curriculum map reveals a careful plan of activities that align with some of the most fundamental learning theories while at the same time incorporating the objectives and standards of the institution. The plan clearly outlines all the tasks that should be covered and the timelines for each of the planned activities. In addition to that, the map also outlines some of the time limited objectives. These include explaining the meaning of conflicts, identifying various types of conflicts within their societies, demonstrating key issues and events of the rebellions in the classical society, and identifying outcomes of conflict from different perspectives for the first week.
The objectives for the second week are demonstrating various ways or strategies through which conflict can be resolved, explaining the management of conflict, applying the concepts of managing conflict within their immediate environs, explaining the situation of conflict within the current society and understanding the relationships between classical and contemporary society in respect to conflict.
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These objectives, as much as they touch on the area that is being addressed by the course have had the effect of ensuring that the students are able to develop competencies in other areas. This includes critical thinking and analytical capacities, thus aligning with the overall objective of the institution, which is to improve the overall competencies of the students.
In addition to aligning the objectives of the plan with those of the institution, the application of various teaching methodologies has also served to align the plan with the aforementioned learning theories. The incorporation of various teaching techniques such as lecturing, question and answer sessions, group sessions and group research activities have all served as already mentioned, to ensure that the plan employs the use of various education theories for the purpose of attaining its objective (Udelhofen, 2005).
Moreover, the plan has been able to employ the use of several assessment techniques such as multiple choice questions, quiz in class, questions and answers, group assessments, group research papers and individual research papers and weekly exams (Udelhofen, 2005). The application of various assessment methods is aimed at ensuring that the teacher assesses the progress of the class as a whole, and that of individual students effectively (Udelhofen, 2005).
As much as the curriculum map has been effective in assisting me to discharge my duties as a teacher and improving the overall quality of teaching in the school, there are several shortcomings with the school’s mandated curriculum that in my view can use some improvements. First of all, the amount of content that is covered with the mandated curriculum in my view needs to be increased.
This will ensure that students increase their knowledge base in the areas being addressed. Pollard and Collins (2005) explain the link between curriculum content and student competency and points out that an all inclusive curriculum that takes into account and addresses various aspect of the topic being covered is essential for the development of overall student competency.
In addition to increasing the amount of course contents, the period allocated for coverage of the curriculum in my view should also be increased. This is because the current period allocated for covering the issues addressed by the curriculum is not adequate. Consequently, students with learning difficulties, which require them to take longer in order to grasp various concepts, might be left behind as far as curriculum coverage is concerned.
The third aspect of the school’s mandated curriculum that can also use an improvement is on the nature of teaching methods that have been applied in its coverage. As much as there are various teaching methods that seek to ensure that every student are accorded due attention by the teacher, there is still a limitation when it comes to student teacher personal interaction (Pollard & Collins, 2005).
Perhaps, incorporation of one on one student teacher interactions in my view, will enable teachers to be in a better position to understand the needs of each and every student. Finally, additional resources should be employed to increase the effectiveness of the teaching/learning processes.
The use of audio and video equipment that accord the students with a more realistic view of the issues being addressed by the course, in my view, will significantly enhance the teaching and learning processes. In addition to that, a visit to some of the relevant institutions such as national museums, relevant companies and organisations that are directly related to the courses being covered will serve to enhance the understanding of the students significantly.
Pollard and Collins (2005) note that reflective decision making is a hugely crucial aspect as far as teaching is concerned. This is because, the teacher looks back at some of the issues that have been covered, and make appropriate adjustments. In addition to that, reflective decision making also accords the teacher with an opportunity to improve their own practice. This is because they will be in a position to use evidence and information from past activities, for the purpose of improving their future practices.
On a personal level, the reflective process has been tremendously instrumental in enabling me to better my practice as a teacher. An analytical review of the curriculum map has enabled me to enhance my analytical skills. I am now in a better position to analyse various aspects of the learning critically, and be in a position to identify their strong and weak points.
Besides enabling me to improve my analytical skills, the reflective process has been singularly instrumental in enabling to appreciate and understand the various educational theories using a practical approach. This is because the process has enabled me to identify the impact of each of the theoretical approaches of learning and how they can be applied for the benefit of the student. Lastly, the process has enabled me to appreciate the importance of various aspects of the learning process.
This includes the importance and impact of setting educational objectives, the importance of student teacher interaction which results in the teacher understanding the student’s needs, and the importance of proper planning in enabling one achieves their educational objectives. The appreciation and understanding of various aspects involved in the teaching process have been tremendously helpful as far as improving my professional practice as a teacher is concerned because it has meant that I am now in a better position to discharge my duties effectively as a teacher (Pollard & Collins, 2005).
Olson, M. H., & Hergenhahn, B. R. (2012). An Introduction to the Theories of Learning. London: Pearson Education.
Pollard, A., & Collins, J. (2005). Reflective Teaching. New Jersey: Continuun International.
Udelhofen, S. (2005). Keys to Curriculum Mapping: Strategies and Tools to Make it Work. London: SAGE.
Zemelman, S., Daniels, H., & Hyde, A. (2012). Best Practice: Bringing Standards to Life in America’s Classrooms. New York: Heinemann.