This is How You Hack the Curriculum

On Saturday, April 16th ECSL joined with the Green Ambassadors Institute, a professional development program through Environmental Charter High School, to engage in a first-of-its-kind experiment: The Curriculum Hack. April 16 Small CardIt was based on the shared experience of many teachers that there is no one-size-fits-all curriculum. An educator is a kind of jigsaw puzzle expert. They are constantly fitting together the puzzle pieces (standards, time, current events, learning styles, youth interests) to create the big picture (a curriculum that best serves their students).

With so many factors to consider when deciding how to deliver content, teachers rarely use a published curriculum verbatim. They take out, add on, or adjust lesson plans to create something that fits the needs of the class. Teachers may do this in isolation or amongst their planning teams on campus. But at this spring’s BioDiversity Summit, Green Ambassadors gave educators access to a valuable resource in this process of tailoring curriculum- diverse perspectives.

IMG_6863In our increasingly interconnected world, there is a need to bring together all community stakeholders to create curriculum that helps students prepare for the challenges we face as a society. Everyone was invited to the table. Educators, students, community organizations, businesses and government leaders all lent their ideas and expertise. In real-time, this melting pot of perspectives helped shape curriculum for pressing essential questions we need to cover in our classrooms, like “How can we undo environmental injustices within our communities in order to keep people safe and healthy?”

At the start of the summit, ECSL led participants in a personal inventory activity that revealed each other’s interests, skills and talents through a guided interview process. Later, when it was time to hack the curriculum together, each member could reflect on their traits, background and experiences that would impact their group’s lesson planning process. Gingerbread Inventory

This year’s institute theme was BioDiversity, and the experience lived up to its name. The diverse skill sets present amongst each group member led to rich explorations of environmental justice themes for all grade levels.

Green Ambassadors has made available the lesson plans created in this collaborative curriculum development experience (where you can also access the Personal Inventory activity presented by ECSL).

We look forward to connecting with members and new participants alike at the ECSL Fall Meeting scheduled for September 27th at The Skirball Cultural Center from 3:15-5:30pm. Join us for another unique opportunity to network with a variety of stakeholders in the service learning community.

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