Characteristics of the best curriculum designs

(a best practice compilation, really)
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  1. Clear performance goals, based on a genuine and explicit challenge
  2. Hands-on approach
  3. Focus on interesting and important ideas, questions, issues, problems
  4. Obvious real-world application, hence meaning for learners
  5. Powerful feedback system, with opportunities to learn from trial and error
  6. Personalized approach, with more than one way to do the major tasks, and room for adapting the process and goal to style, interest, need
  7. Clear models and modeling
  8. Time set aside for focused reflection
  9. Variety in methods, grouping, tasks
  10. Safe environment for taking risks
  11. Teacher role resembles that of a facilitator or coach
  12. Learning by immersion
  13. Big picture provided and clear throughout, with a transparent back and forth flow between the parts and the whole

Resource Kits

Helpful Blog re: Curriculum Writing
A blog to follow

Notes from our May 3rd Meeting

What questions do you have already that Atlas could help us answer?
1. Can lessons be combined or do we need to extend this for more time?
2. What are we doing to help the kids learn phonics?
3. Is anyone else teaching about the Incas?
4. Am I teaching skills in isolation or are they supposed to go further?
5. How much of our content is intentionally recycled / reviewed?
6. When do I teach for mastery?
7. How will what they are learning now be honored in the future?
8. Where the holes in grade 1?
9. What are my options for assessment?
10. Can I lay claim to certain websites, books, etc. so that the kids will not have been taught from those resources already?
11. What assumptions can I make about what they already know?
12. How can I build background knowledge?
13. Is there too much emphasis on something? (4 Africa books)
What will we want to reinforce or refine through mapping?
· Logical sequencing as we deliver curriculum
· GT issues- alignment?
· Increased use of formative assessments
· Intentional review
· Why do we not have a predetermined vocabulary list for elementary literacy?
· Are we teaching to standards?
· Are we checking to see that the kids are learning the standards we are teaching? Are we being clear on what we want them to know?
· When are terms or concepts introduced?
What will we need in order to successfully get Atlas to be used?
· Time: to talk about what we are putting in and time to enter data into Atlas
· Training for using Atlas
· Continual revision
· Continuity between the schools- agreements
· Clear guidelines as to who is responsible for adjustments
· Determination as to how we will map out 4 year cycles in special education
· Define what should go in each box and examples in my content area

· Teachers will want to know how to do it right the first time. We don’t want to create frustration.

March 8, 2011 Meeting Agenda

Graffitti questions

Review team charter

Collaborative unit reflection

Editing our Atlas Templates

  • Categories, descriptions

  • Assessment types

Mapping Areas for Academic Focus

What should we do next?

We asked ourselves a few excellent questions at our January 25 T&L Leadership Team meeting.

Here are a few of the nuggets from those conversations:

How does curriculum mapping make you a better teacher?
  • It helps organize your thoughts.
  • It organizes all the different systems of keeping track of teaching material.
  • Mapping develops consistency and commitment for teams.
  • Mapping can facilitate alignment of curriculum.
  • Mapping is purposeful thinking.
  • It makes us wrap our heads around more than one day at a time.
  • Mapping makes us think about the how and why we are making instructional choices.

In our first trial run with Atlas, these things were hard-
  • Some people prefer face to face help when navigating a new system online.
  • For Kindergarten, readers workshop was cutting and pasting. Math is already on the shared folder.
  • In grade 2, there aren't any essential questions already in our curriculum material. How do we come up with an essential question?
  • The terms were confusing. What is a concept? A skill? An activity?

The team developed our Core Leadership Charter. The result is excellent, if I might say so!