Friday, April 24, 2009

Adult Curriculum Changes

I noticed that the new Interactive Core Curriculum Tool on the Excellence Gateway website contains updated versions of the various curricula, in response to the consultation exercise of past year or so. There is no significant change as far as I can see to the Pre-Entry Curriculum itself and little to the ESOL one, bar distinguishing the elements better between beginners with no literacy and those with already know other scripts. (You may have to register before seeing any of this online. And I don't know if these documents are now "official.")

The numeracy curriculum does have a number of minor changes to sort out some of the discrepancies which have confused us over the years. This means I can now code my lesson plans correctly, for example, when teaching someone mental methods of calculation. A few things have been added to Entry 3. I like particularly this statement "Expressing one number as a fraction of another number has been included at Level 1 since this is a skill which is often tested at this level." So now I know: it's the testing which drives the curriculum, not the other way round; I've always had to teach it, of course, because it is tested.

There seem to be fewer changes in the literacy curriculum, but one is intriguing. They have moved "understand when commas are needed in sentences........ and that commas should not be used in place of full stops" from Level 2 to Entry 3. I'll be amazed if tutors can really get this working, as I find that a lot of my learners working towards Level 1 find commas really difficult, particularly the sentences bit. If people are going to be tested on this seriously at Entry 3, I'd stick my neck out and say there are going to be difficulties.

Otherwise the online implementation of the curricula is pretty good, and easy to find your way around when you get used to the layout - same as on any sophisticated site. The activities and ideas can be downloaded, or are linked to other places. You can add your own suggested activities for anyone else to see, and save places you want to return to frequently. There are also numerous forums on the Excellence Gateway site and Collaboration Spaces, including this forum for the Curriculum. Unfortunately most of these are pretty inactive. I'll be interested to see if any of the interactive side of this "tool" gets used more than other similar areas for Skills for Life or FE in the UK.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Maths Activities

Two websites with good ICT resources for Numeracy have recently been overhauled.

Firstly, the American NCTM has revamped its Java-based Illumination activities. I have added a few to the Activities Maths page, and will consider some more. I particularly like the Pan Balance Numbers activity, which I should imagine will appeal to those who appreciate Thinking Through Mathematics. The instructions for these activities are useful and directly accessible.

Secondly, The Standards Site, now called the National Strategies, has good demonstrations for mathematical concepts which I have long linked in Activities Maths. These are now more clearly accessed from the home site here. The mode of access has changed slightly so that the activities and the important instructions can be downloaded and run immediately. The host page also lists Interactive Whiteboard suitable files for Excel, and for Smart and Promethean Boards. I will also search through these for other activities useful for Post 16 Numeracy.