Melbourne is a melting pot of cultures where differences among races and nationalities blend seamlessly together. And I found this so apt to my experience because the workshop we attended proved to be a veritable melting pot of ideas and insights that confirmed Xavier School is on the right track when it comes to curriculum reform.
Fr. Johnny Go, Ms. Aimee Apolinario, Mrs. Flora Anne Alfonso and I attended a three-day workshop entitled “Creating an Ignatian School Curriculum that Works” in Melbourne, Australia from August 15-16, 2006. The workshop was handled by Lorraine A. Ozar, Ph.D. from the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness of Loyola University in Chicago, USA.
Day 1 of the workshop started with the context that the most important requirement for a school is a ‘coherent, high-quality curriculum that is reasonable well-taught.’ The day progressed with Dr. Ozar describing the best way of developing a guaranteed and viable curriculum – the backward design. This input was a definite pat on the shoulders of the Xavier administrators since Xavier School has been into the backward design or more popularly called Understanding by Design (UbD) for two school years now. The speaker also presented how the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP) is actually very similar, if not parallel, to UbD.
Day 2 featured a more in-depth description of the Stage 2 (Assessment) of UbD. Much of the discussion centered on issues regarding formative and summative assessment. The workshop gradually wound down on Day 3 with the speaker constantly reiterating the need for professional learning communities to make curriculum reform work. As a fitting end, the participants were made to come up with their Quick Win, Short Term and Long Term plans.
The workshop was peppered with much small group discussions which allowed the participants to learn from and share with each other, creative activities that broke continuous stream of cognitive input, delightful meals accompanied by stimulating conversation and with some tours of Jesuit Schools.
Looking back, I expected myself to be in awe of what the Australian Jesuit schools are doing, but surprisingly, I was not because I found that in most cases, we were already into what others are just starting.
Xavier School has ventured into curriculum reform for three years now in a slow but steady pace. The Melbourne workshop confirmed that what we have been doing is consistent with the principles of correct curriculum reform – that is, to aim the limelight on learning outcomes and assessment, and to involve the community in the process.
Much work awaits but the workshop has also given us more vigor to face what lies ahead. Armed with fresh ideas and a supportive team of parents, faculty and students, I look forward to the next step in our curriculum design.
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