Sharpening focus with students and staff (curriculum, classroom)

It’s exciting to hear how Christian schools throughout the CSI network are working to make distinctively Christian education come alive! Doug Monsma, Curriculum Coordinator at Edmonton Christian School shared the following ideas with me in a conversation around Essential Questions and has kindly allowed further sharing in this blog and the Member Community Center.

Doug writes: Our staff asked us to develop a tool that could be used to develop learning activities/assessment/outcomes in a holistic way. The attached chart Critical Thinking Skills from a Biblical Framework (below) is our first shot at it and staff has been very impressed with how it has focused their work. (For a working PDF copy see the Curriculum area in the CSI Member Community Center.)

We have also spent quite a bit of time looking at student work together. We have tried to identify what students seem capable of related to thinking critically using a Biblical framework. We hosted a Celebration Fair in December where staff shared a portfolio of student work from their grade/subject area (see pictures). We have found this to be an extremely valuable activity to help staff deepen their understanding of distinctive Christian schooling and thought. Here are some comments from the teachers about the value of a staff doing this:

1. We are in this together – I don’t have to do everything! The feeling of a communal responsibility to the task of Christian Education was very affirming.
2. There are great things happening – this affirmed that the work that we are doing and asking staff to do is worthwhile and valuable.
3. We have an amazing group of teachers who are passionate about Christian Education.
4. The freedom to ask the tough questions and the challenge to seek answers.
5. The importance of stepping back from provincial/district standards and being reminded of the true Big Picture of Christian Education.

6. The importance of collaboration.

Doug has also shared a brief description of this project, planning sheets, a visitor response form, table display guidelines, and a helpful chart linking head, heart, and hands with Essential Questions and Critical Thinking Skills from a Biblical Framework diagram. PDF copies of this information can be found in the CSI Member Community Center under the category Curriculum folder entitled Faith Integrated Learning – Essential Questions – Edmonton Christian Photo Album Journey. Doug invites any questions you may have – you can contact him at Doug.Monsma@epsb.ca. Kudos to Doug for sharing and for his teachers working to sharpen their focus on being distinctively Christian in their work with students!

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2 Comments

Filed under curriculum, distinctively Christian

2 responses to “Sharpening focus with students and staff (curriculum, classroom)

  1. Kate McLaurin

    I really enjoyed the Critical Thinking skills chart because I liked how it incorporated higher level thinking as well as beliefs and action. As a Christian, this is what our lives should be focused on and I like relating it to the classroom. Even with the possibility of teaching in a secular setting, I can see how I could use this chart to open up discussions for beliefs in relation to what we learn in school.
    I also appreciate how the topic is in the center, with the sections branching off of it instead of there being a hierarchy. This alludes to more integration of the types of thinking and it can be used for anyone in the class—teacher or student.
    Thank you for this model… I will definitely use it myself!

  2. Elaine Vandenbos

    I am really interested in what I have read here about looking at developing Critical thinking skills from a Biblical perspective. However, I am not able to download any of the PDFs. I was wondering if they could be sent directly too me.
    Thanks.

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