People are engaged, but there’s so much more that could be done. That’s the message champions of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) eCurriculum site are putting forward.
Beacon Christian School Grade 8 teacher Ron VandenBurg is committed to igniting greater excitement and involvement throughout the OACS membership.
He has a number of ideas for doing so, including making it clear this is a space where imperfections and half-finished work are welcome
“I would like the eCurriculum site to be a messy, wonderful place, where everybody can share ideas and brainstorming and half-lessons and whole lessons — where everybody feels it’s safe to share something and can celebrate each other’s gifts,” says VandenBurg, who describes himself as a passionate artisan of handiwork that includes curriculum ideas and products.
VandenBurg would like to be part of a team encouraging teachers to be active on the site. He envisions groups organizing brainstorming sessions and sharing their ideas online, working towards a long-term goal to shape the original “messiness” into something more constructed.
VandenBurg also has a vision of the community sharing ideas about how they’ve brought the larger biblical story into their classrooms in “all sorts of wonderful ways,” whether that’s through the curriculum itself, in the pedagogy, the atmosphere of the classroom, student-teacher relationships, community involvement, service learning and more.
“I want this to be a place where teachers are excited to be, that it’s one of their bookmarks when they go to the computer and there is an excitement,” VandenBurg adds.
“This is all about building community in so many wonderful ways, and I’m really hoping that as a Christian community of teachers we can create something that is even noticed by others, that they say, ‘Something is going on here that’s extra special.’ ”
Edifide, a professional association of Ontario Christian educators, has been involved in the eCurriculum site from its beginning and executive director Diane Stronks also sees much opportunity for educators to make fuller use of it.
She notes the extreme busyness of educators and need for strong incentives for them to get involved.
Stronks suggests that creating various projects for people to join could be one of the most effective means to spark this interest.
She says she is particularly excited about the possibility of new curriculum writing using Teaching for Transformation Through-lines. Developed by Doug Monsma of the Prairie Centre for Christian Education, Teaching for Transformation provides a framework for the development of Christian learning experiences that are grounded in a transformational worldview with a focus on the biblical story.
“It’s interesting because the technology has allowed us to build the (eCurriclum) site; now what’s the next step (is the question),” says Stronks.
“I really think the curriculum project, the Teaching for Transformation project, may be the fuel to really get things moving.”
VandenBurg agrees the Alberta-based model has been a great example of what curriculum writing can be, and says he would love to see something similar in Ontario.
Edifide plans to continue to herald the eCurrilum as a go-to place for its membership. Edifide will continue to offer workshops on the site. A Teaching for Transformation session will also take place at the upcoming Edifide conference.