Brazilian Education – Week 4 – Class Notes

We had the honor to have one of the authors from – “Educational Performance of the Poor: Lessons from Rural Northeast Brazil” by Harbison and Hanushek (1992) and David Plank who wrote a review about the book. 

The book covers the socioeconomic context of the Northeast at the time (1981-1987), and the challenges faced in the implementation and evaluation of the EDURURAL Project. 

Very interesting discussion. Main take-aways:

  • They were unable to find a relation between student performance and the teacher’s educational level or years of experience – the conclusion is that, at least quantitatively, it is impossible to pinpoint what a good teacher is – it seems like it is an art.
  • Pouring money into education works if it is to build schools but no one really know how to spend this money once it comes down to improving the quality of education.
  • Brazil has come a long way in educational infrastructure but now it’s time to talk about quality.


Teacher PD – Week 4 – Class Notes

Today we went over the research papers we read about Math PD. We reconstructed the LHS framework through the lens of different researchers – hard mental exercice but gave us a good grip on the different foci each one has.

  • Differentiation amongst teachers
    • “Students of treatment teachers whose mathematics knowledge was below that threshold did worse than students of control teachers with comparable knowledge.” (Givvin & Santagata, 2011, p.445)
  • Requirement to do the PD
    • Research
      • + More data
      • – Less engagement
  • Change from one year to the other
  • Pre-diagnose the teachers




Curriculum Construction – Week 3 – Reading Reflection 1 Assignment


These short papers (approximately 2-3 pages) are intended to help students reflect on the experience of curriculum development, and to help us assess student understanding of concepts and ideas gleaned from the readings and class sessions. To maximize the benefits of the reading reflections, students should write papers that address topics of real concern. Each “RR” should reference specific reading assignments and make substantive connections between the text(s) and the curriculum development process and/or classroom discussions and site experiences. 


A curriculum is a distilled reflection of the multi-tiered struggle of the educational process; a struggle between cultural values, ideologies, interests, power, human relations, to name a few. It is also a conflict between the macro and the micro, intention and interpretation, and by definition, plural. The topic that is in eternal evolution and a central driver in the growth of our society. “What we call the curriculum is a multifaceted whole made up of the relationships between content, purpose, time, and individual and institutional actions as perceived and interpreted by various parties.”, (Walker, 1989, p.7) The sheer volume of factors that influence a curriculum design, its effectiveness, its purpose, and implementation lends itself to be a challenging endeavor and to be precisely defined. “So long as people disagree about what kind of education is best for humanity, they will prefer different definitions of curriculum” , (Walker, 1989, p.6) Curriculum construction is a daunting task involving several stakeholders, with varying interests, resources, and knowledge of the current research and best practices.

Let’s imagine that all the countries in the world joined forces to create a Global Curriculum. What would it look like? Who would decide what disciplines would be taught, how, and at what developmental stage of the learner? How would it be implemented in different contexts, with differing resources and widely varying levels of teacher’s and student’s previous knowledge? Is it possible that global guidelines be implemented inside a particular setting, with a specific teacher, for a specific learners?

“All that you get now with a position of authority over curriculum decisions is a seat at the “game” of curricular influence – and you have to play that position into influence over what happens in schools and classrooms. To do this you have to know where the floating crap game is today, what the current rules of the game are, who are the other pairs, what’s at stake, and how to play the game.”, (Walker, 1989, p.22)

Walker not only speaks of the process of influencing what a curriculum will look like, but also delineates seven important characteristics of curriculum practice, which lead me to reflect on the vast scope and power of curricula. Freire would say that  curricula can be an instrument of control designed to oppress. As a mind-altering device (Eisner, 1994), one must be aware of the tacit implications a curriculum has in our children. Yet how do we come up with an agreement on how we should alter their mind? “For some the government has no business supporting the arts, and for others the school has no business teaching adolescents about sex.” (Eisner, 1994, p.48) In an ever more diverse society, these questions and issues permeate the curriculum design process.

Several curriculum ideologies guide this design process influencing what is taught, how it’s taught, and why. Religious Orthodoxy for example might inadvertently shy students away from being inquisitive in an attempt to avoid them being ‘exposed’ to differing values. “The claim that man rationality at its best is incapable of fully understanding God’s plan: only arrogance and ignorance would suppose otherwise.” (Eisner, 1994, p.62) Progressivism on the other hand, believes that we as rational organisms trying to best adapt to our environment. We are not a designed by a ‘God’ but we evolve as we adapt and grow in the world.

“Dewey’s work is rooted in a biological conception of the human being. By this I mean that he regards the human being as a growing organism whose major developmental task is to come to terms, thought adaptation or transformation, with the environment in which he or she lives.” (Eisner, 1994, p.67)

Gardner (1999) also gives us a synthetic list of struggles to consider:

• Breadth vs depth of content

• Accumulation vs. construction of knowledge

• Utilitarian vs. intellectual growth’s sake goals

• Uniform vs. individualized education

• Private vs public education

• Multidisciplinary vs mastery of one

• Assessments – all in or none at all

• Relative or universal standards

• Technocentric vs Homocentric

• Student-centric vs teacher-centric approach

The list of ideologies goes on and builds upon previous theories, research and beliefs. Each ideology focuses on core concepts that guide curriculum construction, which in turn, are implemented by teachers through their own ideologies, interpretations, and understanding. The school and/or the district will also have their own preferences, and so will the organizations and people funding educational projects. So how can we ensure that the best curriculum is designed and implemented? “Critical Theorists, in the main, tell the world what schooling suffers from, but they have a tendency to emphasize criticism rather that construction.” (Eisner, 1994, p.76) How might we navigate in the midst of these power and ideological struggles? Shall we using Noding’s (1992) care framework or focus on Gardner’s ‘truth, beauty and good’ trilogy? How do we manage Dewey’s suggestion of causing ‘disequilibrium’, balancing internal and objective conditions, and promote ‘positive’ growth?

I believe that curriculum has to be constructed grounded on the main takeaways from each ideology, the current context, target audience, and specific learning outcomes. The art of the task is to balance all the factors influencing the design, content, and relevance. We must learn how to construct curricula, and we know from research that the best way to learn is to do it. The opposing views and multitude of layers of curricula cannot shy us away from this necessary task central to education – be at the global, national, state, district, school, classroom, or student level.


Bruner, J. (1960). The Process of Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.  pp. 1-32, 43-54.

Dewey, J. (1938/1997). Experience and Education. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 25-50.

Eisner, E. (1994). The Educational Imagination: On the Design and Evaluation of School Programs. (3rd. Edition). New York: MacMillan. pp. 47-86.

Freire, P. (2005). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum. pp. 71-86.

Gardner, H. (1999). The Disciplined Mind. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 15-40.

Meek, A. (March 1991). On Thinking about Teaching: A Conversation with Eleanor Duckworth. Educational Leadership, pp. 30-34.

Noddings, N. (1992). The Challenge to Care in Schools. New York: Teachers College Press. pp. 44-62.

Walker, D. (1989). Fundamentals of Curriculum. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace. pp. 2- 33.

Ed 208B

Winter 2016



This was an interesting topic for a reflection paper. It is clear that you have given a lot of thought to the way competing forces within society affect the construction of curriculum. While this is true, I am left wondering what exactly your the main purpose or thesis was in this work. I found a couple of places in the text that hinted at a main idea or argument, which I marked with comments. To strengthen this work, you might get explicit about the exact argument you are trying to make and make sure each paragraph is directly tied to this point. You writing has improved a lot since last quarter and it is nice to see this progress. Moving forward, you must give some time before writing to the identification of your main point and the organization of your ideas around this point.


Teacher PD – Week 4 – Reading Notes

Givvin, K.B. & Santagata, R. (2011). Toward a common language for discussing the features of effective professional development: the case of a US mathematics program, Professional Development in Education, 37:3, 439-451

  • Paper on decisions made in a math PD program in low-performing urban schools
  • Consensus of desirable features
    • Increasing teacher’s PCK
    • Ample time
    • COP
  • Lacks guides for practice
  • Driven by
    • well-defined image of effective classroom learning and teaching
    • provides opportunities for teachers to build their PCK
    • provides opportunities for teachers to examine practice
    • research based
    • engages teachers as adult learners in the learning approaches they will use with their students
    • provides opportunities for teachers to collaborate with colleagues and other experts to improve their practice
    • supports teachers to serve in leadership roles
    • links other parts of the education system
    • has a design based on student learning data
    • continuously evaluated and improved.
  • Teaching math
    • teaching underlying concepts vs procedural trick lead to better learning outcomes
  • Beliefs in teaching methodology
    • “Some teachers (and participating administrators) held firmly to the belief that demonstrating problems and allowing time to practice them was the ideal, and in PD sessions they argued (sometimes vehemently) for this more traditional form of instruction.” (Givvin & Santagata, 2011, p.444)
  • PD affected negatively teachers with poor content knowledge
    • “Students of treatment teachers whose mathematics knowledge was below that threshold did worse than students of control teachers with comparable knowledge.” (Givvin & Santagata, 2011, p.445)
  • Assessing for understanding is much harder
    • “analysis of student work for understanding was novel (and difficult) for all participants. Teachers were accustomed to assessing quality of student work only in terms of correctness (Santagata 2009).” (Givvin & Santagata, 2011, p.445)
  • Sharing teaching practices is not common
    • “We found that participating teachers had little experience of collaborating to improve practice…” (Givvin & Santagata, 2011, p.446)
  • Suggestions for future PD programs
    • Spend ample time developing a shared image of desired practices.
    • Pay attention to teachers’ thinking so that their individual needs can be met (Gersten et al. 1995, Putnam and Borko 1997, Wilson and Berne 1999)
    • Teachers need to learn how to collaborate.

Loucks-Horsley, S., Stiles, K. E., Mundry, S., Love, N., & Hewson, P. W. (2009). Chapter 1: A framework for designing professional development. Designing professional development for teachers of science and mathematics. Corwin Press, 17-58

  • Framework for PD
  • Inputs into the design process
    • Knowledge and beliefs
      • Learners and learning
      • Teachers and teaching
      • The Nature of Science and Mathematics
      • Adult Learning and Professional Development
      • The Change Process
    • Context
      • Students and Their Learning Needs
      • Teacher and Their Learning Needs
      • Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment Practices, and the Learning Environment
      • Organizational Culture and Professional Learning Communities
      • Leadership
      • National, State, and Local Policies
      • Families and Communities
    • Critical issues
      • Building capacity for Sustainability
      • Making Time for Professional Development
      • Developing Leadership
      • Ensuring Equity
      • Building a Professional Learning Culture
      • Garnering Public Support
      • Scaling Up
    • Strategies for Professional Learning
      • Immersion in Content, Standards, and Research
        • Curriculum Topic Study
        • Immersion in Inquiry in Science and Problem Solving Mathematics
        • Content Courses
      • Examining Teaching and Learning
        • Examining Student Work and Thinking
        • Demonstration Lessons
        • Lesson Study
        • Action Research
        • Case Discussion
        • Coaching
        • Mentoring
      • Aligning and Implementing Curriculum
        • Instructional Materials Selection
        • Curriculum Implementation
      • Professional Development Structures
        • Study Groups
        • Workshops, Institutes, and Seminars
        • Professional Networks
        • Online Professional Development
  • The Design and Implementation Process
    • Commit to Vision and Standards
    • Analyze Student Learning and Other Data
    • Set Goals
    • Plan
    • Do
    • Evaluate Results
    • Reflect and Revise

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 10.14.03 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-23 at 10.13.12 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-23 at 10.13.44 PM

Santagata, R. (2009). Designing video-based professional development for mathematics teachers in low-performing schools. Journal of Teacher Education, 60, 38-51

  • Problematic topics
    • Basic understanding of target mathematics topics
    • Knowledge of their students’ understanding
    • Ability to analyze students’ work and reasoning beyond classification into right and wrong answers.
  • Video-based PD
    • Attending to content-specific understanding
    • Scaffolding analysis of student thinking
    • Modeling a discourse of inquiry and reflection on the teaching and learning process
  • Teacher’s beliefs in low-performing schools
    • They do not think they are able to affect students’ learning.
    • They tend to have low expectations for their students.
    • They are more likely to hold an emergency creden- tial or being asked to teach outside their subject matter area
    • Pressured to improve students’ performance on standardized tests
  • Failures
    • “As professional development designers and facilitators, we overestimated our teachers’ abilities to analyze the teaching and learning process through a content lens.” (Santagata, 2009, p.50)
  • Improvements
    • Content-focused questions became more specific
    • Questions focused on common students’ misconceptions were introduced
    • Facilitators’ planning notes became more structured and the organization of teachers’ interactions was modified to include some work in pairs
    • Guidance in the analysis of student learning from the videotaped lesson was increased
  • Resulting principles
    • Attending to content-specific understanding
    • Scaffolding analysis of student thinking
    • Modeling a discourse of inquiry and reflection on the teaching and learning process

Santagata, R., Kersting, N., Givving, K.B., & Stigler, J.W. (2011). Problem implementation as a lever for change: an experimental study of the effects of a professional development program on students’ mathematics learning. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 4(1), 1-24

  • Math education is poor due to the teacher’s lack of deep content knowledge
  • PD efforts must supplement these skills not acquired in credential preparation
  • Teachers in better performing countries are able to engage students with the underlying principles
    • “Teachers in higher achieving countries appeared able to implement mathematical problems in a deeper way, using problems as a means of engaging students with core mathematical concepts. Teachers in the United States, in contrast, tended to reduce all problems to sets of procedures that required students only to execute routine steps.” (Santagata, Kersting, Givving, & Stigler, 2011, p.2)
  • Barriers to teaching math by “making the connection”
    • Lack of content and pedagogical content knowledge
    • Lack of models (i.e., knowledge of alternative instructional strategies and how to implement them in the classroom)
    • Lack of contextual support (e.g., instructional materials that support effective use of “making connection” problems)
  • Designed PD with 3 modules
    • Content exploration
    • Lesson analysis
    • Link to practice
  • Results
    • Teachers had a hard time applying what they learned in the classroom
    • Follow-up meetings were not taking seriously – constant rescheduling and mostly no preparation for them
    • Lack of support from administration hindered application of learned concepts
      • They did not trust the teaching for understanding methodology and asked teachers to focus on procedures and test taking techniques once the testing period came along.
  • Teacher profile in low-income areas
    • 67% were fully credentialed
    • 4% held or were in the progress of obtaining a single-subject credential
    • 9% were mathematics majors or minors in college
  • Need to focus on previous knowledge
    • “As a field, we need to conduct more research on middle school teachers’ understanding of key concepts of the mathematics curriculum, so PD developers and researchers can build on that knowledge base to design effective PD.” (Santagata, Kersting, Givving, & Stigler, 2011, p.19)

Desing as Reaserch Pop-up d.School

Participated in the’s Research as Design pop-up course this weekend. How to use design thinking to resolve issues you might have in your research process.

Several exercises, creative brainstorming, empathy interviews and all the good design thinking stuff 🙂



LDT Seminar – Week 3 – Abstrat & Needs Assignment

Prompt – Abstract

The project proposal serves several goals:

  1. to externalize the current state of your ideas about your project for discussion;
  2. to push yourself to refine your ideas to make them actionable; and 
  3. to help you think through your plans, to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.

The abstract is a mile-high overview of the proposal.  You may feel at this point that it’s a bit of a mystery how all this will play out over the next few months, but even so you’re going to write this as though you knew the ending.  In 250 words or less, you’re going to give it away here, in the abstract.  

Even though it’s a summary of the proposal, writing the abstract first is a strategic move.  By stating what it is you intend to accomplish in the proposal, you are setting out a roadmap for yourself. If you find that your journey leads you elsewhere, you can easily come back to edit the abstract to reflect your new direction.

For your reader, the abstract is a teaser that gives the outline of what’s to come.  The proposal itself will fill in the details. Thus you should briefly mention the learning challenge (who needs to learn what? why?); the form you expect your solution to take; a description of setting or background environment in which the resulting learning experience will take place; the benefits you expect this design will provide for your users; design studies you plan to do during development; and how you propose to assess what users learn from using your design.

Because the details come later, most abstracts will have no more than a couple citations, if any. Feel free to make rather grand claims here, and be ready to back them up in other parts of the proposal.

See examples here.  Questions? Ask them!



The trend towards blended learning environments is irreversible and an increasing number of higher educational institutions are going in that direction. It is a labor intensive task for professors who must transition from a traditional classroom or lecture hall model to an online environment. Aside from the learning curve into any LMS, new content must be created and organized: pdfs, images, videos, links, animations to list a few. The challenge is to make it easier for professors who for the most part do not have formal pedagogical training or multimedia content creation skills, to publish their courses adopting the research based best-practices.

Learning Experience Designer (LXD) is a curriculum construction tool that adapts to your teaching context and learner needs. It also provides all the multimedia creation tools you might need to record and edit video, annotate images and pdf, or create animations. It utilizes artificial intelligence to suggest course formats, pedagogical strategies, activities, and challenges providing references to works others have already created and tested. The final result is a published course which can be accessed via your browser or a mobile app where students can engage in forums and peer-to-peer coaching.

As a proof-of-concept, I propose to utilize as a base, an existing LMS (Canvas, Coursera, or Edx) and add onto its interface the proposed functions, content, and interactions. These new features will then be presented and evaluated by teachers who have experience with the LMS. The goals are to judge if such features improve the experience of creating the course and if the resulting course positively affects the learning outcomes. I intend to focus an introductory programming course, a subject matter I am familiar with, where the learning outcomes are more easily assessed, and because of the vast amount of content already available online to support the course.


The first section of the proposal deals with the needs you are addressing. By “needs” we mean the learning challenge your project will address. Who will learn what in the experience you intend to create?

Even if your approach (an app! an online course! augmented reality!) is more important to you than the subject learned, the learning you decide to address must be front and center in this proposal.

Convince the reader that this is an important problem. Document the existence and seriousness of the learning problem by referencing studies. At least one first-hand experience anecdote (drawn from a learner “chat”) will paint a picture for your reader of the learner’s interest in learning this concept or topic.

It’s also important to give the background of the learning problem. Your description of the societal or institutional landscape in your specific learning challenge exists will position your project in a larger context.

See examples here.  Questions?  Ask them!



How might we scaffold “experts” to create engaging hybrid courses?

In 2009 I started a mobile app development school in Brazil targeting developers and designers who needed to acquire these new hot new skills. For the first year or so I taught the iPhone app development course while looking for more teachers to meet the large demand and to create new courses. Pedagogically, I going on instincts, using a very hands-on approach: explain the concept, model it, and do it yourself. It worked and it was straight forward enough to explain to the new teachers.

The challenge came when I started hiring teachers for new courses. The curriculum had to be constructed and the course content created. This task proved to be daunting for the developers who never taught before. Even with my course material as a reference or model, teachers were slow to produce the material, and it was usually of poor quality: slides with too many details or lacking explanations of key concepts.

Once I decided I wanted to start selling the courses online, the challenge became too big. Where do I start? How much video versus written material should I use? How will students ask questions? How will we manage all these students? What are the best practices? All questions that could be resolved by a well designed software that would scaffold the process of creating the curriculum and course content.


– Still needs a lot of focusing in terms of the problem, the who, and what is there to be learned.

– Also feels too ambitious in terms of what could be built in time and measurable outcomes.

– In conversations with Mingming to partner up in the quest of helping experts share their knowledge – we think there is a time/difficulty/complexity barrier for most experts to sit down, learn a tool, create content, and then manage a learner’s population in the process.

LDT Seminar – Week 3 – Class Notes & Pitch Assignment

Did a great “pitch” exercice in class to present ourselves and our Master’s project ideas in 60 seconds + one sentence you want to be remembered by. 2 rounds. Dramatic improvement from after first round of practice and feedback.

In preparation for the class we did the following:

  • Interests (learning problems are drawn to)
    • Online-blended learning environments
    • Best practices in teaching
    • Pedagogical strategies
    • Curriculum construction
  • What you bring to the table that you really want to continue using (skills, content knowledge, strengths, networks, etc.)
    • Passion for explaining how things work to others
    • Finding new ways of explaining the same concept (Cognitive Pluralism)
    • Teaching programing
    • Mobile and web development
  • Where you want to leverage these talents (learners, contexts, content)
    • Higher education setting
    • Highly motivated professors
    • Computer Science
  • One phrase to be remembered by:
    • “How to embed pedagogical and curriculum construction strategies into a blended online course publication software.”

Pitch bullet points after feedback from peers:

  • I started a mobile app development school and the biggest challenge was to create
  • Want to scaffold subject matter experts in their desire to teach others
  • Need a PARTNER with experience in teaching online

Curriculum Construction – Week 3 – Class Notes

Ideology Presentations – great work from all the teams presenting each ideology

Reflection paper due next week

Group project – How to Teach Online

Site options to develop a curriculum from:

  • GSB wants to put their Finance course online – might be an opportunity to help them build the online curriculum
  • iai? course on iOS development
  • Karin Forssell – see if she has a course that she wants to put online

Curriculum Construction – Week 3 – Ideology Presentation

Today each group presented one of the curriculum ideologies:

  1. Religious Orthodoxy
  2. Rational Humanism
  3. Progressivism
  4. Critical Theory
  5. Cognitive Pluralism
  6. Care (Noddings)

Our group was assinged to Cognitive Pluralism.

Our game plan:

Prompt: Distill and Convey the ideology in a convincing way

Topic: Cognitive Pluralism


  • 7 minute presentation (5min + 2min Q&A)
  • Include Why, What and How
  • Tip from Molly → Preview Gardener
  • Important to include representation (think this means how student can symbolize)
  • Email Molly with presentation

Our Script

Open Role Play – modeling

  • Celine (teacher) introduces the Water unit and prompts each student to come up with a project they’d like to do
  • Each student gives short description of what they want to do and what drives their interest
    • Lucas
      • Erosion – how different water flow rates affect the course of a river
    • Mohamad
      • Energy – how water can be used to produce energy. I want to build a model dam that has the water flow produce electricity that can light a small light bulb, and thus explore water in that way. Might also be interested to build a small tidal energy system and see how water can be used to produce energy that way as well, and which system is better (Spacial & Bodily and a little bit Mathematical-Logical).
    • Lisa
      • Understand native american tribes and the symbols around water
      • I’d like to re-produce a water dance


  • Celine introduces WHAT Cognitive Pluralism is
  • Mohammad explains Gardner’s idea of multiple intelligences
  • Lisa explains WHY we should teach Cognitive Pluralism
  • Lucas describes HOW teachers might incorporate the ideology in practice


Material from Readings

    • Pluralism of meanings
      • Multiple ways of teaching and learning the same concept
        • Analogies (Dan Schwartz)
        • Metaphors
      • Intelligence as a verb versus a noun
        • Not something you have, something you do
        • Fixed versus Growth mindset
        • Brain as a muscle
      • Literacy
        • Expanded definition – not only reading words, but symbols
        • “…encoding or decoding of information in any of the forms that humans use to convey meaning” (Eisner, 1994, p.81)
    • Equity
      • Differentiation
        • Requires teacher to look at ‘internal conditions’ of student
      • “By creating a wider array of curricular tasks … opportunities for success in school are expanded.”  (Eisner, 1994, p.82)
      • Tasks must bare equal merit – arts vs science
    • Null Curriculum
      • Curriculum is as mind-altering device
      • What goes in is as important as what is left out
      • Missed opportunity to increase learner’s repertoire
    • Limited success
      • Teachers must have multiple forms of literacy – but most of us will latch onto one way of understanding and thus have a harder time explaining in multiple ways.


Our presentation slides