Wednesday, May 8, 2013

ESD in Curricular Documentation

Last month's visit by the Eco Schools committee allowed us a chance to look into what we do and how we do it. Among the many pieces of evidence we needed to provide to them was a listing of curricular connections to the Eco Schools theme of Nature & Biodiversity. In doing so we were able to delve into the documentation of our Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) process. What we found was the delightful realization that a whole lot is being done, but there is, of course more to do. Isn't that always the case?

As you might expect, curriculum planning is a dynamic process that goes on indefinitely - not unlike becoming sustainable. ISKL uses a software package called Atlas Rubicon for the documentation of unit plans, learning outcomes, knowledge and skills, and the like. It's often a somewhat tedious process for teachers, but necessary to our curricular planning. It provides new teachers with already existing documentation so as to minimize any ripples from the change over in teaching staff that happens regularly at an international school like ISKL. It is also a great place for collaboration to be documented as well, and that's where the ESD standards and benchmarks come in. 

Over the years our documentation of ESD standards and benchmarks has increased dramatically. This year alone our curriculum documentation revealed that ESD is infused into teaching and assessments a total of 232 times (ES: 108; MS:.97; HS: 27). In truth there are probably many more instances where ESD comes up but it is not reflected explicitly in the documentation because the focus of the topic is on something else. Take, for example, a book that is covered with a heavy environmental theme. The book's content might be perfect for ESD infusion, but the reason it is being read is the writing style, so that ESD documentation will not be present.

Still it is s positive sign that ESD is so present. As I have noted on many occasions it is important for students to recognize the real life implications for what they are learning. There is arguably no more pressing an issue that our students will face as they grow up as the need for sustainable choices. To get there they need to be exposed to knowledge, skills, appreciation for and an empowerment to make changes for a better future. 

The process of ESD documentation in our curriculum will continue into the foreseeable future as we continue to collaborate in unit plans with the recognition that ESD has many curricular connections. Still, the fact that so many teachers are taking the time to document ESD is probably a great indicator that it is alive and well our our classrooms! Hats off to our teachers for doing their part in making the world a better place!

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