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Last November I received my issue of “Leadership Magazine”. The contents focused on Common Core standards which is in transition in California. The first article that I read was “The ABCs of 21st century literacy”. This article focused on the shift instructional practices, and students in the 21st century classroom knowing how to ask and answer questions, building new knowledge, and collaborating with others in a digital world.

I became interested  searching for curriculum that was “more than teaching to the test”.   I wanted students  to apply their learning and prepare for the 21st century. Having worked in education for the past 44  years, I did not want to embrace just another trend, only to have it disappear. I looked forward to having curriculum that students as well as other educators could  learn and acquire knowledge as we headed into the 21st century.

The ABCs of literacy are as follows as recommended by this article:

1.  Asking and answering questions
Students should be able to  ask questions. Through the years, I have learned not to underestimate why students ask the type of questions, but I may certainly encourage learners to ask questions to engage in inquiry, which will help them build new knowledge.  I have used this strategy in my social studies classes.  It takes awhile for the students to accustom to this new strategy, but I have seen the improvement in the students’ comprehension.

Accessing information—We must teach students how to find information effectively by using the internet.  Many of my students use the internet now, but more for playing games.  It has been a joy for them to ask if they may take their ipads, cell phones, etc. to research to help them do or create their assignments or projects.

Analyzing- This is probably my favorite part.  Many students are weak in this area.  You have no idea of the joy when students who simply referred to simple recall answers start to use this higher critical thinking skill!

Applying–Our focus of learning will be to assist students applying their skills to new jobs, new situations, and being creative to new problems.

Assessing–This is probably one of the most difficult skills to acquire in thinking as well as in communication.   Is this not what we hope that our students will be able to do so they can truly become part of the global community?

2. Building new knowledge

This reminds me of my PKM system.  It is a work in progress.  And it will be the same for the students.

3.  Collaboration–Technology will play an important role.  I am learning, using, and evolving right along with my students.  Using different aspects of technology will help both students and educators to become more responsible for our learning!

Culturally adapting—An important skill needed in the 21st century is the ability to work with different cultures.  It is not a simple world that we live in. The 21st century is definitely different than even the 1980’s.

However, since this is the information age and along with changes, if we apply ourselves responsibly as we enter this new age of knowledge, we will be successful.

Adapted  by Jo Ann Gillespie, written by Molly McCabe, administrator with the Riverside County Office of Education, adjunct professor in the  Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy Program at Pepperdine University.


This article was featured in “Leadership: Student Learning and  Common Core”. The article emphasized building leadership
capacity to shift instructional practices and a systems approach to refine instructional design and delivery.

I was impressed with the article’s reference to:  Corona-Norco Unified School District and the Desert Sands Unified School’
District.  Corona-Norco has a decentralized approach, with a focus on development of leadership capacity on student engagement.

I firmly believe that student engagement is one of the main keys to student achievement in the 21st century.  An engaged student can truly learn.  I understood that the district becoming directly involved in focusing on student engagement was the driving force.  Students do
not always see academic vocabulary as engaging, but it appears that a district such as  Desert Sands Unified School District identified teacher collaboration, best first instruction, standards mastery, and targeted intervention that prepared students for academic success.

Since at this stage some of my research may be similar to some of the approaches by these two districts, I am considering to not only do further research, but visitations to these two districts. will also rely on some of the very strategies and approaches that these two very different school districts have endorsed, I plan not only to do further research, but visit the two districts.


Written by Jo Ann Gillespie, adapted from Jay Westover, Presenter of Common Core Workshops  as written in Leadership , Association of California School Administrators, November/December 2013.



Personal Knowledge Management is the preparation for a dissertation topic or writing a scholarly paper. Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) pioneer, Harold Jarche, had an example that I had studied, but I am implementing my own Personal Knowledge through a series of blogs on my proposed dissertation: “Neuroscience and Curriculum that can be Supported by Community Resources”. I started with curriculum. My concern is that many American students are not as engaged in school, consequently not reaching their potentials and dropping out of school. “The quality of a school system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.” McKinsey (2009, study of top 25 school systems). “A teacher’s effectiveness has more impact on student learning than any other factor controlled by school s systems such as: class size, school size, programs, technology, curriculum supports, etc.” MET Project (2010). Consequently, what are some of the best practices that boost student achievement and success?   You cannot leave the student in isolation, however. Brain research has had a profound in- fluence on how students learn. Community resources, the impact of neuroscience, and engaging curriculum can have profound implications educating students!

The topic and the objective is to combine neuroscience, an engaging curriculum, and communityresources to effectively educate students in American middle schools. Neuroscience is relatively new when researching students in middle schools. The range may be from the sleep patterns to engaging curriculum for students in middle schools. For this dissertation, I will limit neuroscience to the brain development and influences; engaging, but challenging curriculum that could appeal to diverse student populations, and getting community involvement.

Dr. Judy Willis, with her background as a neurologist and classroom teacher, is an authority on brain research regarding learning and the brain and correlations of this research to best teaching practices. Her current collaboration in this area is to promote the incorporation of “the science ofLearning” into teacher education curriculum WEBSITE: I will use some of her findings in my research. Another foremost expert is Dr. Carol Dweck. This expert has done formidable research in the area of “mindset” with students. These studies have profound implications that will power is more influential in determining the success of students than high intelligence.

After implementing and teaching middle school students through the years, National History Day and Odyssey of the Mind will be two of the engaging, but yet challenging curriculums that I plan to use in my study. National History Day is a challenging, but successful curriculum that has proven successful no matter how the pendulum has swung in education. It has existed for almost thirty years, and it not only has been the predecessor to Common Core Curriculum, but it provides the foundation that can propel students into the twentieth first century as productive, knowledgeable citizens. Odyssey of the Mind is another curriculum that allows students to use their creative minds in solving problems that give new meaning to lifelong learning!

Community resources are a requisite! I have been fortunate and blessed to work in a district that has encouraged and involved the community to be a partner in educating students. When plans for partnerships are linked to school goals for student success, family and community involvement can measurably affect students’ learning and development (Epstein, 2001, Sheldon, 2003).

The research work will include a study of neuroscience of students in middle school, National History Day and Odyssey of the Mind curriculums , and community resources increasing student engagement and academic success.

(1Willis, J. (2014)www.RADTeach.)


The methods and PKM system that will be used are the following: Personal Knowledge Management


LEARNING: The first task is learning. Knowledge is the result of learning. Through research of journals, peer reviews, blogs, etc. I will learn about the effects of student neurology and its affects upon student learning. Some of the experts will be Dr. Judy Willis and Dr. Carol Dwerk.


OBSERVATIONS: National History Day and Odyssey of the Mind Curriculums will be over one to one and a half year periods. Surveys, individual and group work, student samples of the different categories such as performance, exhibit, web sites, historical paper, will be observed as well interviews with students and their respective teachers.


CREATIVITY: The completed finished products will be the evidence of student attitudes and achievement of students participation in these academic events. Furthermore, letters will be created to solicit community sources to engage students in their projects’ development. Community resources will be from the following list, but not limited to archivists, librarians, government officials, school district board members, parents, teachers, etc.

Hopefully, the above components will develop into blogs that will create contributors that will further educate on how we can educate our students!




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