As an educator and curriculum designer, it is vital I have systems and processes in place to write and design curriculum. There are many approaches to designing curriculum but I like to think WHOLE and work my way down to the PARTS. So for me, I think about what standards and topics I am instructing in the whole unit and then work my way down to the specifics of each lesson.
As with many in the profession, I like to utilize the framework of Know, Understand, and Do or the infamous acronym KUD’s. This allows me to break down all of the content, skills, and understandings I want my students to know into a framework.
After designing when and what students are to learn during instruction, the next logical step is to identify how I will know and measure if students actually learned what I taught during instruction. There are many different techniques and strategies for assessing the KUD’s. The methods I apply are the use of formative and summative assessments. I incorporate these assessments into the scope and sequence of the curriculum unit to get a rough idea of when I will be assessing my students.
I use formative assessments for the goal of monitoring student learning and to provide students with ongoing feedback to improve the learning process. These are usually low-stakes used for improvement.
The goal is to use these formative assessments to accrue specific data that helps me measure and provide evidence where the student currently stands in relation to learning targets and overall framework of the unit.
What does the student know?
What can the student do?
What does the student understand?
Here are some specific examples of forms of formative assessments I use:
In these new or modified lessons, I must provide specific feedback and a plan of action for what students need to do to improve. Then, I allow for immense amount of practice of the content in the KUD in varied contexts with significant amount of time for the learning process to occur, even if that time must be outside of school hours.
Once I have taught the entire unit, I use a summative assessment to evaluate student learning after my instruction by comparing it to the specific standards or learning targets. These are usually high-stakes used to provide a grade or mark for the student.
I can use the data from the summative assessment to guide future students through instruction that will mitigate the known student struggles and misunderstandings.
This is an example of the importance of experience in the teaching profession and cannot be undervalued. I am always a better teacher during my second class than I am in my first class. The same is true when I have experience teaching a whole unit a couple of times. I am better because I have the data and information from my assessments as well as the personal experience. Keeping a personal journal or blog helps to revisit ideas and thoughts you had during the actual instruction experience.
So, let’s recap, when you are trying to design or write a new curriculum unit for instruction in your class, I suggest following this process:
I have included a hand info-graphic of our process that you can view below and download.
We are always looking for feedback and ways to improve so do you know of any methods or strategies we should incorporate in our curriculum design?
What are some tricks or methods that you have used in your classrooms?