TEDx Curriculum Project

PJ and I had the opportunity to practice curriculum design during the spring semester of 2010 and the experience was nothing short of personally transformative for me. We learned so much about the challenge of balancing the needs and wants of our stakeholders (e.g., graduate ESL students in EAP Public Speaking, the course professor, the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and us, the project design team) and of creating a theoretically sound and practical curriculum.

Part of my contribution to our curriculum project was to integrate a service learning (SL) component in the curriculum, and I found the inclusion of SL in English learning inspiring. Later, during the following summer semester, PJ and I tried to apply some of what we created and found new challenges.

My challenges stemmed from the fact that I bit off more than I could chew. In the summer of 2010, I was hired by MIIS’s Intensive English Program to teach Reading and Writing III and a project-based technology elective I named Imagining California. Because I was still used to leading a teacher centered class, as a result of my prior teaching experiences, I found that adding a service learning component to my course was too much to think about, let alone plan. I found that letting go of control and handing it over to my students was challenging enough. Whatever transformative learning I wanted to facilitate that summer with my students got postponed because I was challenged enough by my own attempts to promote and promote learner agency, autonomy, and responsibility.

In hindsight, I was able to transform as a teacher, becoming more comfortable with being learner-centered and applying social-cultural theory supported pedagogy, like Kumaravadivelu’s (2003) macrostrategies and Walqui and van Lier’s (2010) ideas on a pedagogy of promise. The experience reemphasized the rule “You must learn how to crawl before you can walk,” and transformed the way I saw myself as a teacher. No longer do I see myself as a font of knowledge, as merely a lecturer or source of answers. I now feel more comfortable in the role of a facilitator and coach when teaching English.

Below is the service learning lesson plan I designed for my team’s curriculum project. I hope to use it in a future class some time next Spring. I feel that I am much closer now to being able to add a service learning component to English learning. I’d appreciate your comments on the lesson plan, and if it inspires you to add a service learning component to your English instruction, let us know at Transformative Teaching and Learning how it worked out and what you and your students did!

And here is the project framework the class would follow…


Kumaravadivelu, B. (2003). Beyond methods: Macrostrategies for language teaching. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Walqui, A., & van Lier, L. (2010). Scaffolding the academic success of adolescent English language learners: A pedagogy of promise. San Francisco, CA: WestEd.

2 Responses to “TEDx Curriculum Project”
  1. Kcourvoisier says:

    Great lesson ideas, I really love Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk and have been brainstorming ways to incorporate it into my ESL classes. I’ll post ideas here!

    • ieslmymonterey says:

      Great, let us know how you end up using the video. We’ve had a number of teachers at the Monterey Institute’s Intensive English Program use Chimamanda’s message of the danger of a single story in their reading, writing, oral communication, and elective courses. Have fun!

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