Chapter 3 Curriculum Planning
3.4 Managing the Curriculum
Good curriculum management enables schools to plan effectively and helps with curriculum implementation and the management of change. The following are important considerations in curriculum management.
3.4.1 Areas of work
(a) Understanding the curriculum and learning context
In planning their own Geography curriculum in schools, teachers are advised to study carefully the Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide (CDC, 2009) in addition to this Guide.
This is to ensure that the SS Geography curriculum they develop for their own school is in line with the overall educational aims and directions of the senior secondary curriculum in Hong Kong. They should also understand the vision and mission of their school, its strengths and policies, and the characteristics of their students, especially their learning abilities, interests and needs. Teachers should also be aware of the culture and changing needs of the society, and adopt a flexible approach in planning and managing their Geography curriculum.
(b) Building capacity
For better management of the school Geography curriculum, Geography teachers, in particular Panel chairpersons, should consider working out a mechanism for more effective professional development through better curriculum management. One of the possible ways of doing so is to strengthen the collaboration among teachers in the panel. Collaboration can take the form of collaborative lesson preparation, team teaching and lesson observation among panel members. These practices often provide opportunities for mutual exchange of experiences and concerns. Collaboration in classrooms, through team teaching or lesson observation, usually helps to improve teachers’ professional development if there is adequate trust and good communication and support. Introducing outsiders into the rather closed classroom environment can bring new insights. They can sometimes see things that are “blind spots” to class teachers. Through follow-up discussion and reflection, professional capacity can be enhanced.
(c) Cross-curricular collaboration
Owing to the specific nature of the subject, it is relatively easy for Geography teachers to cooperate with other subjects in developing cross-curricular learning. A popular partner is Economics / EPA. Nearly all the major themes in human geography, such as “urban land use conflict and urban problems”, “industrial location and development”, “agricultural
change and urban sprawl”, can be integrated with the content of these two subjects. More physically-related themes such as “environmental conservation”, “weather and climate”,
“plate tectonics and natural hazards” and “rock cycles and denudation” can be linked to topics in science subjects.
For larger-scale collaboration, themes like “pollution” and “tourism” offer good opportunities to link up subjects both within and outside the PSHE Key Learning Area. An example of how the theme “tourism” could be used for connecting the six PSHE strands, and in turn nearly every PSHE subject, can be found in the PSHE Key Learning Area Curriculum Guide (CDC, 2002) (Refer to Exemplar 5, Page 151). Teachers are also reminded that the elective “Weather and Climate” in this Curriculum supplements and complements the elective “Weather, Energy and Air Quality” in the senior secondary Science curriculum. This can serve as a possible starting point for Geography teachers to work with Science teachers.
Last but not least, the knowledge, concepts, and understanding of Geography – in particular
“spatial perspective”, “global outlook”, “place and region”, “environmental management”, and “transport development” – can be used to strengthen students’ learning in Applied Learning courses such as “Logistics Fundamentals” and “Introduction to Leisure and Tourism Studies”.
(d) Better use of the geography room
The Geography Room is a great asset in learning and teaching Geography in schools. It provides the much-needed space for group work, discussion, role-play and many other less teacher-centred learning activities. When planning their daily learning and teaching schedules, therefore, Geography teachers should try to ensure the best use of the room by introducing more student-centred, interactive learning strategies. With the introduction of GIS in the SS Geography curriculum, Geography teachers, especially Panel chairpersons, should develop a detailed plan for equipping the room with the necessary computer and audio-visual facilities and equipment for students to make use of this new form of information technology for spatial data analysis. Information on the introduction of GIS in Geography and the use of the Geography Room for enhancing the learning and teaching of the subject can be found in Chapter 4 and Chapter 6 of this Guide.
(e) Soliciting external resources and support
When planning the curriculum, teachers should look for resources and support that are available outside schools. By establishing a close connection with parents, alumni and members of the local community, schools can obtain valuable sources of personnel, information and financial aid to offer students a greater variety of learning experiences, especially beyond the school premises. A typical example would be to ask parents and alumni to assist Geography teachers in fieldwork and visits. Not only can parents and alumni help in conducting the visits or trips, but their professional knowledge and experience may also be helpful in the planning and development of the relevant learning activities. Government departments and non-government organizations are another source of learning resources, in particular those that run exhibition halls and field centres. The Planning Department, the Hong Kong Observatory, Kadoorie Farm and the World Wide Fund for Nature are examples which are well known to Geography teachers.
(f) Managing change and monitoring progress
In order to sustain the Geography curriculum over time, it is important to monitor progress and evaluate the effectiveness of learning and teaching. The Geography panel can undertake action research or self-directed study for periodic reviews of the learning and teaching of the subject. These activities can provide valuable data and evidence on how to refine and enhance practices in implementing the Geography curriculum. Evaluation of the effectiveness of learning and teaching can also be conducted through the setting up of an internal assessment framework. Feedback on the learning and teaching strategies adopted by Geography teachers can also be obtained through monitoring the progress of student learning. Details on how an internal assessment framework can be developed for Geography are included in Chapter 5 of this Guide.
3.4.2 Roles of different stakeholders
Principals, KLA / subject Panel chairpersons, teachers and parents play different roles in the planning, development and implementation of the school curriculum. Collaboration is vital for effective and efficient planning and management of the Geography curriculum in schools.
(a) Geography Teachers should:
Keep abreast of the latest changes in the curriculum, learning and teaching strategies and assessment practices;
Involve themselves actively in the development, implementation and evaluation of the Geography curriculum, with the aim of promoting student-centred enquiry and enhancing learning effectiveness;
Design and plan learning and teaching strategies and activities that offer an appropriate challenge to students to stretch their potential in learning Geography;
Make the best use of the Geography Room and the latest geographical tools (e.g. GIS) to improve the learning and teaching of the subject;
Participate actively in professional development, peer collaboration and professional exchange; and
Participate in educational research and projects to enhance their own professional development.
(b) PSHE KLA Co-ordinators/ Geography Panel Chairpersons should:
Lead and plan the development of the curriculum;
Monitor the implementation of the curriculum, and make appropriate adjustments in strategies for learning, teaching and assessment, taking into account students’ abilities, interests and needs;
Facilitate professional development by encouraging panel members to participate in training courses and workshops;
Hold regular meetings (both formal and informal) with panel members to strengthen coordination and communication among them;
Liaise with other panel chairpersons to explore possible cross-subject collaboration;
Promote professional exchange on subject knowledge and learning and teaching strategies; and
Make the best use of resources available in the school and community.
(c) School Principals should:
Develop a clear and sustainable direction for the development of the PSHE Curriculum in schools, and understand the role and importance of Geography in the curriculum;
Take into consideration students’ needs, teachers’ strengths and expertise, the school context and the central curriculum framework in formulating the curriculum, and instructional and assessment policies;
Coordinate the work of KLA leaders and subject panels, and set clear targets for curriculum development and management that facilitate cross-curricular collaboration;
Support Geography panel chairpersons and teachers in promoting culture of collaboration among teachers;
Support the implementation of fieldwork and other life-wide learning activities in Geography by providing administrative support and suitable time-table arrangements, resources and staff;
Convey a clear message to parents regarding the importance of geographical education;
Build networks among schools, community organisations, and various institutions at management level to enhance the development of the Geography curriculum.
(d) Parents should:
Understand the value of geographical education, and encourage and support their children to be conscientious in studying Geography; and
Support the implementation of fieldwork and other life-wide learning activities in Geography by encouraging their children to participate actively in them.