Below are excerpts from my feedback to students on their concept maps regarding community and curricular connections.
Comment: You have done a great job in the text to highlight the various connections and to relate the readings to the work you are highlighting. This is a great start to a literature review for a project down the road and I encourage you to keep your written work available in a word doc for easy retrieval. There is no issue with reusing some of this work and building upon it.
With your concept map, I would suggest trying to reduce the amount of text and using what text you do have to highlight the concepts involved and to show the interrelatedness and overlapping nature of the various concepts.
For example, instead of writing "Social action is an important part of the curriculum", which we see in the reading materials, just say 'social action' and then try to show where else in the activities there is an overlap or relation to social action.
Comment: Try to make some of the connections between the elements more explicit. For example, you have one node that highlights 'communicating with others' and another node that shows 'modes of communication'. Can you indicate which modes would be most suitable for which types of communication? This might be an interesting exercise for you and your classmates.
If you look at some of the other areas as well, you might see some efficiencies in your map.
Try to use an online mapping tool that can use collapsible nodes. This makes reading much easier and you will find that you can edit and share much easier.
Comment: Very nice work! I would suggest trying to order the elements to reflect their relationships. Perhaps a more circular design instead of a linear hierarchy might help with showing connections. For example, you have curriculum and then students which is of course a connection. However, the curriculum is often designed by the school, board or community and then enacted by teachers for the students. How might you reflect that connection in your map?
Similarly, the technology has its own node whereas it might be better used as a facilitating tool and be interspersed throughout the map to show where technology can support the great work you are doing. For example, what technology are they using to question and analyse? What tools do they use to collect data, record experiences for reflection and the demonstrate their competency with a particular skill for assessment purposes?
Your text is also well written. I would argue that the point you make in the second paragraph about students wanting to know the purpose of their studies is of paramount importance and that this could be the introductory paragraph. We are talking about "Making Connections"!
Comment: I always wonder about the idea of letting students set the curriculum. Of course, this is tempered with curriculum issues that filter in from society, boards and other ministries that have a stake in what our children learn.
How do you manage the demands of a 'state' curriculum with the needs and desires of the students and maintain a level of robustness and rigour in the learning?
Another question that arises from this is the issue of students meeting those from similar backgrounds. I wonder about the idea of meeting people from different backgrounds so that we can increase and improve our ability to appreciate those that are different from your own experiences? What do you think about that?
Comment: It was interesting to read about the need to be explicit about the concepts and to highlight exactly what they were doing. I think this is essential for everyone and perhaps your students are just being more open about their needs.
There is a concept called "tolerance for ambiguity" that I have examined at length in the past. Language teachers in particular should be familiar with this concept. It speaks about the ability of individuals to function without all relevant information. For example, with language learners, how well can they understand a communication even though they do not understand all of the words and expressions being used.
Comment: This is a wonderful piece of work. You have really captured the range of elements needed to make a curriculum and activities as your outline come to life and work for students.
In reference to your classmate's comment, I would like to ask you to reflect a bit further on the issue of student led curriculum and how that can be aligned with what I am sure is a rigorous curriculum.
How do you maintain rigour in such a curriculum in order to ensure that students meet assessment requirements?
Comment: Perhaps instead of the questions, I wonder if a sequence of actions that highlight your process might smooth the connections and provide a greater ability to make those connections? Maybe not, but I am just thinking 'out loud'.
Then, the extra text around the map might be incorporated into the written accompaniment and that whole thing might be just a bit more concise. Your work is excellent, but I am just trying to find a way to make it more accessible.
I would also suggest bringing out the connection between the content and the application and understanding of the content in a holistic sense. You highlight the issue of getting the parents' buy in in order to lessen the expectations of memorizing content. However you do need to have the content and the activities you are suggesting make the content more relevant. You do capture this in section 3 of the map, but I would argue that this is the central motivation for all of your work. Make it stand out!