Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Curriculum Development- The way it Should be Done

Teacher curriculum teams should be compelled to take ownership over the development process. How to do this? It comes down to three things:
1. Establish your goals and expectations for the team. Tell everyone what they have to accomplish before they finish their work.
2. Provide 30-45 minutes of information about curriculum. Using participant-centered activities (discussion, role-play, reflection tasks, etc.), help your group understand the purpose of curriculum and make sure they know exactly how curricula should look in the district. Use this time as an opportunity to establish the “culture” of the process. The culture should be such that the group knows it will be responsible for driving the process (you’re the “guide on the side”).
3. Offer procedural options to help the group reach the goals and expectations. Let them fly with their own ideas if they arise.
Task your curriculum team to do the following: 1. Align curricula with the latest standards standards (including, in the case of New Jersey’s NJCCCs, the Cumulative Progress Indicators). 2. Develop Course Scope and Sequence Charts for each course so you can frame the year and identify gaps and unnecessary redundancies. 3. From the separate program Scope and Sequence Charts, develop a Topic Scope and Sequence Chart that shows how the unit topics in the content are mapped out K-12. 4. Analyze the charts for gaps and unnecessary redundancies along the K-12 continuum.
Consider having the team place post-it note chart paper on the walls of the meeting room to identify where and how the standards are addressed in the operational curriculum (what is really being taught and not what is intended to be taught in the formal curriculum guide) in all grades. The result? Not only will you come away with stronger curricula, but you will also have had a five-hour conversation about what is being taught at every grade level, K-12. High school teachers will get to hear what elementary teachers teach and will learn more about the lower grade standards. Elementary teachers will learn from the “content specialists” in the upper grades and likely come away with new ideas for delivering the content. The ongoing process will improve curricula, promote student achievement, and elevate the professional knowledge of everyone.

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