Many of you said you had teacher contacts in your lives whom we could get in touch with. It’s really looking at this point like our goal of traveling to them for live discussion just isn’t going to work, so we’ve come up with an alternate solution.
We started a Google Group specifically for those involved in Christian schools. We’re in the process of asking teachers and administrators to join the discussion group by sending out letters that includes the following (some of what has been mentioned here on the blog before):
We asked a Christian school teacher/former administrator who keeps an interactive website what he thought about our dilemma and he had some great insight for us. We thought inviting teachers to talk about their curriculum needs was the right way to phrase our intent to discuss biblical worldview in the classroom, but we may have been wrong.
The teacher we asked said, “From a teacher’s perspective, a survey from a publisher is not how curriculum gets developed. Curriculum is developed within a school community as it focuses on mission and then decides what and how to teach. Text books are tools to accomplish curricula goals, but texts are not synonymous with curriculum.”
We would like to further explore what this means. If texts are not synonymous with curriculum in the schools, what is? Our approach to discuss “curriculum” with teachers has possibly been incorrect. We may not be getting many answers because we’re asking the wrong questions. We need your help in determining what the right ones are (and also in figuring out their answers).
Would you consider joining a temporary e-list discussion group to help us think better about this? Our bottom line? We want to produce materials that help kids become discerning Christians. We want to produce materials to that end that teachers NEED. We need help in determining just what that is.
We just created an e-group through Google Groups called “How Kids Think” (which is the name of our research project for God’s World Publications). We will not automatically add you to the group unless you give us permission to do so. Our research project wraps up in mid-November, so the discussion group will have a fixed end. You will not be required to participate in every discussion, and you may leave the group at any time.
We greatly value your input; we need more of it. Please consider getting in on the discussion and help us do our best to help you.
If you would be willing to join an e-list discussion with us, please send your email address to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add you to the group.
If you mentioned to us that you had a connection with a Christian school, teacher, and/or administrator, could we ask you to send a personal email to them (from you) telling them a little about our project? You could point them to this post, or you could copy and paste it in your email to them. We would love to get 15-20 teachers (or more) involved in our google groups discussion. If you do invite someone to the discussion, please leave a comment (or send an email) letting us know and we’ll make sure you get entered into the drawing this week for doing so.
Congrats this week to Jess. She had the 28th comment which was the number picked by the Random Number Generator.
As always, please continue to share your thoughts with us. We’re not sure how much longer we’re going to keep asking questions and giving away gift certificates, but we’ll guarantee it for one more week at least. We will make the decision for a subsequent week(s) at that time.
Have a great weekend!
Let’s get back to talking about how to best meet the current events needs for kids (and we’re asking everyone here: parents and teachers).
How do you think we can best integrate print resources with web-based ones? It seems as though parents don’t really want their (especially young) children hanging around on the Internet all day (and we concur; we don’t want our kids hanging around on the Internet all day either), so what’s a good middle?
What would you think about having a weekly news magazine, similar to what God’s World News (GWN) currently is, with an intentional weekly Internet component? This could look like links to “safe” sources for more information, more developed thinking activities for the kids to interact with on the GWN site, or even weekly webcast talks/interviews with someone who can add an extra diminsion to the news covered in the weekly magazines.
What other possibilities can you think of that would best meet the needs of how to make news current, relevant for kids, and framed in a way that mirrors your biblical values?
We’ve mentioned we’re rookies at this research process, so today we come clean with what has been pointed out as a mistake as to how to get teachers to discuss what might be missing from their classroooms.
We thought inviting teachers to talk about their curriculum needs was the right way to phrase our intent to discuss biblical worldview in the classroom, but we may have been wrong.
We found one teacher on the Internet who teaches at a Christian school and is a former school administrator. We asked him if he had any ideas as to how to get in with teachers to discuss their curriculum needs, and he had some insightful things to say:
“From a teacher’s perspective, a survey from a publisher is not how curriculum gets developed. Curriculum is developed within a school community as it focuses on mission and then decides what and how to teach. Text books are tools to accomplish curricula goals, but texts are not synonymous with curriculum.”
Curriculum is developed within a school community? Do any of you have anything to add to this? How? If texts are not synonymous with curriculum in your situation, what is?
If our approach to discuss “curriculum” needs has been incorrect, what should our approach look like instead? We may not be getting answers because we’re asking the wrong questions. What’s the right one(s)?
Updated to add: This post is about a separate aspect of our research: finding out how to discuss with teachers at Christian schools. We did not mean to imply that we were unahppy with the direction of those participating in the blog discussions. Not at all. Please continue to give us your input. We also need the input of the teachers, but we’re trying to figure out how to go about doing that in a different way.
One aspect of our research has been to try to schedule live meetings with teachers and/or administrators at Christian schools. They are a tough group to get in with, particularly with the short timespan we have to work with (now through mid-November). We’re finding that the only way to get our foot in the door (in every sense of that phrase) is to have a personal connection already in play.
This leads us to this next question – do any of you know any teachers/administrators in Christian schools in your area you could put us in touch with? We would love to come see them (and other teachers in their area) to discuss similar concepts in person.
Would you let us know if you might have a connection for us?
Another topic of interest that has been coming up in the survey responses pertains to readability of materials written for kids. For some folks, magazine articles written in a format children can easily read by themselves is a high priority (sort of a Dick and Jane for world news topics). Others much prefer stories that, while simply written for children to understand, are not filled with five-words-or-less sentences.
What’s the priority to you? If you have emerging readers in your home or classroom, would you prefer to hand them a publication they can totally read to themselves, or do you prefer longer sentence structure even if it means you have to sit and read it to the children yourself?
What about pre-readers? Are pictures worth 1,000 words?
On the surveys we sent out last week, we asked a couple of questions about kids and pop culture, namely, how comfortable do parents and teachers feel in addressing pop culture topics with their kids and how do they go about doing it (ie: do they initiate pop culture discussions with their kids, wait until the kids bring it up, or avoid discussing pop culture altogether)?
The overwhelming majority of folks said they felt 100% comfortable in discussing pop culture with their kids, which is great, though most of the parents filling out the survey equated pop culture with “worldliness,” using that word exactly.
So, what do you, the How Kids Think blog focus group, think about that? Does pop culture have to or always equate to worldliness? Do your discussions on pop culture center on what’s wrong with it, or do you also incorporate things we can affirm? What does that look like in your context?