This newly updated module explores various ways that educators create, adapt, adopt, and modify curriculum. It addresses many relevant topics, including:
- Politics of curriculum
- Standards – what they are and how to use them
- Learning progressions
- Curriculum development, especially backwards design
- Curriculum coherence
- High expectations and depth of knowledge
- Extended learning standards
- Textbooks as curriculum guides
The content in this module is intended to align closely with the content of the OLAC modules on Assessment and Instruction because of the need for educators to understand how Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction relate to one another.
This module aligns with Ohio’s Leadership Development Framework in the following areas:
- Area 1: Data and the Decision-Making Process
- Area 2: Focused Goal Setting Process
- Area 3: Instruction and the Learning Process
Discuss different types of curriculum work with members of your BLT or TBT. (See the list below). In your discussion identify which educators in the group have had experience with which of these types of work. If there are types of curriculum work with which no one is familiar, talk about ways your BLT or TBT could learn more about it.
- Developing common lesson plans with a team of teachers
- Testing the effectiveness of a common lesson plan
- Developing a common unit plan with a team of teachers
- Developing curriculum materials with a team of teachers
- Unpacking standards
- Developing learning progressions
- Developing a curriculum scope and sequence
With colleagues in your TBT or BLT discuss how teachers in your school typically use textbooks. Are the typical practices for using textbooks effective for all students in your classrooms? What evidence supports your team's assessment of the effectiveness of these practices? What alternatives might help improve the effectiveness of textbooks?
One fundamental assumption of public schools is that they exist to benefit the local community. As a DLT, discuss how a curriculum used by your district (e.g. reading, mathematics) contributes to and meets the needs of your local community. How would eliminating the curriculum impact your community?
Independently, consider and then rank order the five most important criteria to use in selecting curriculum materials. Next, share your list with members of your DLT. Where are DLT members' lists similar and where are they different? What might account for similarities and differences? How might your DLT move forward to resolve differences in what members believe are the most important criteria for selection of curriculum materials?
Evaluating Curriculum Implementation
Choose a unit from a curriculum your district or one of your schools is implementing. Prepare a plan for evaluating it, creating first a set of criteria to define effectiveness and then a list of evaluation questions keyed to the criteria. Next consider methods for collecting and analyzing data about the curriculum that fit with your evaluation questions. These methods might include observations of lessons; interviews with teachers; student surveys; or review of the results of formative and summative assessments.
As a BLT or TBT, choose one set of content standards (e.g., mathematics, social studies) and deconstruct one or more of the standards, using the Winston-Salem/Forsythe County Schools model found here Winston-Salem/Forsythe County Schools Standards Deconstruction Model or another model of your choosing. What do the standards say about student outcomes (i.e. what students should know and be able to do)? What patterns of reasoning will they need to master? What kinds of products might students create to demonstrate their new knowledge and skills? Next, rewrite the standards in student-friendly language so they could be easily understood by students.
Review of Curriculum Implementation Process
As a DLT, BLT, or TBT assess the degree to which your district uses a systematic process for implementing new curriculum.
- To what larger framework is the process aligned? The Ohio Improvement Process? The district strategic plan? Something else?
- How does the district ensure alignment to the larger framework?
- How does the district ensure curriculum coherence?
- How does the district interpret fidelity of implementation? Over what curriculum decisions do BLTs, TBTs, and individual teachers have discretion?
- Are teachers provided professional learning opportunities necessary to implement the new curriculum? If so, what types of learning experiences do those opportunities provide?
- What role do principals have in curriculum implementation through observation, monitoring, and supporting teachers?
Framework for Pedagogical Analysis
The Educational Development Center provides a tool educators can use to analyze how well curriculum materials provide for three phases of the learning cycle (McNeil, 2003). First, select a text with accompanying materials (e.g., teacher's guide, activities, assessment questions). Then, using the criteria in the template below that focus on the three parts of the learning cycle, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the material.
Note that it may be helpful to focus only on specific parts of the material.
Checklist for Examining Curriculum Resources for Bias
As a DLT, BLT, or TBT identify a particular curriculum resource for review. Collaboratively, examine the resource for evidence of bias, using the template below.
You can earn credit and contact hours for modules, webinars, and podcasts completed on the OLAC site.
For more information, visit the Credit Corner. If you’re seeking credit for the Gifted Education Professional Development Course or the Culturally Responsive Practices Program courses, you can find that information on the course overview pages.