On November 1st and 2nd hundreds of education professionals and scholars from the Middle East, North Africa and America gathered in Dubai for a symposium on implementing Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in regional American curriculum schools. The goal of the conference, the first of its kind in the region, was to inform education professionals about the new CCSS in English language arts and mathematics, empower teachers to increase the academic success of their students, and connect CCSS educators across the Middle East and North Africa.
The MENA Common Core Conference was organized by international education organization Know.Do.Serve.Learn (KDSL.) KDSL is a Dubai based education company founded by Kevin Simpson and Alison Burrows, professional American educators and entrepreneurs. KDSL partners with organizations around the world to increase student achievement, teacher knowledge, and leadership in education. Kevin and Alison saw a tremendous need for relevant and effective professional development for regional educators who work in American curriculum schools. “The new common core standards must be implemented at American curriculum schools if these schools wish to obtain or keep their accreditation and receive excellent school ratings,” explains Alison Burrows.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that 48 American states voluntarily adopted. The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared for the rigorous requirements of American universities or to enter the demanding global workforce. The MENA Common Core Conference provided extensive explanation, information, and training on implementing these new standards.
The conference included over 250 participants from countries throughout the MENA region. Education company Taaleem hosted the event at the Jumeira Baccalaureate School. “The Common Core Conference created a unique opportunity in the region for professional development of the highest quality as well as a forum for networking and exchanging ideas for teachers. Taaleem and Jumeira Baccalaureate School were delighted to support this conference and hopefully it will become an annual event, said Clive Pierrepont, director of communications for Taaleem.
Two extraordinary keynote speakers from America, Christopher Lehman and Scott Laidlaw, flew to Dubai to be featured at the conference. Christopher Lehman is a leading literacy specialist, international education consultant and top selling author of “Pathways to the Common Core,” “Energize: Research, Reading and Writing,” “A Quick Guide to Reviving
Disengaged Writers,” and “Falling in Love With Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts – And Life.”
Scott Laidlaw is an expert math teacher turned popular game designer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant winner for “Ko’s Journey,” documentarian, and MidSchoolMath founder. Both speakers delivered keynote addresses focusing on common core implementation as well as several workshops centered on practicing common core standards in the classroom. “The Common Core Standards alone do not impact schools; it is instead dedicated educators teaching with purpose and a deep focus on students that lead to more rigorous and engaged learning. Educators of MENA schools have a unique opportunity to learn from the triumphs and troubles of implementation in the United States and take the best of what’s possible back to their classroom,” remarked Christopher Lehman.
In addition to the keynote speakers 27 experts in education, including James Piecowye of Zayed University and host of Dubai Eye’s Nightline, conducted various workshops focused on best practices in implementing the common core standards. Maher Trabelsi, Department Head and Professional Development Coordinator at RBS Kuwait, presented on enhancing learning communities through using the common core. “Looking at all these eager teachers and administrators, I’ve come to realize that learning knows no limits. Everyone came with great expectations and left with mindful ideas to be implemented in their schools. I’m glad to have been part of MENA Common Core 2013 and I look forward to next year’s conference,” Maher stated.
The MENA Common Core Conference provided access to over 20 exhibitors who supply educational facilities in the region with teaching resources and solutions. AllPrints, distributor and publisher of education materials, was the platinum sponsor of the event. “The Common Core Conference addressed the shift in student learning requirements that must occur in American curriculum schools throughout the MENA region,” said Zoya Houjeiri of AllPrints.
To conclude the conference, attendees from schools worked with an expert facilitator to create an action plan for implementing the common core standards throughout the school year, “The MENA Common Core Conference was centered on four major themes: align, connect, learn, and implement. At KDSL we realize that action is critical on the learning journey. Therefore, action planning was built in over the two days of the conference for schools to connect with common core experts in a smaller setting. We hope to see schools sharing their results during next year’s conference,” said Kevin Simpson.
Next year’s MENA Common Core Conference will take place in Dubai in mid-November. For more information on this event please visit http://www.menacommoncore.com.