Monday, September 5, 2011

Curriculum Audit: Part 2, Identifying Essential Curriculum

Identifying high priority standards for endurance, leverage, and readiness is an excellent way to keep us accountable to expectations beyond the district.  If the standards we identify have endurance, leverage, and readiness then they have the capacity to inform student learning in compelling and lasting ways.  Since we also have an obligation to the district, we must use the standards we have identified as high priority as a kind of code for our curriculum.  We must use this code to choose aspects of the curriculum that are the most engaging, coherent, and purposeful.
Part 2 of the audit is just three steps:
  1. Identify high priority standards (see last week's blog),
  2. Compare to your curriculum,
  3. Organize essential curriculum into units.
To explain further:
If you list the high priority standards in one column, you can use a second column to connect those standards to language in your curriculum.  Click here for a template.  In my experience in Webster so far, I have found that our curricula are not written in a universal format and that many of them rely heavily on the GLEs.  You may find that some of the language is redundant.  Since you also examined common core standards and/or the standards from your professional discipline's organization, you may find that these do not connect with much (or with anything) in the district's curriculum.  This puts us in a difficult position; one that I will discuss with each of department on a case-by-case basis. If you find holes, missing information, or feel strongly as a department that certain things may need to be added, we can discuss this as well.
Once you have completed this exercise, you may wish to go back and code the rest of the curriculum, the curriculum that you did not list as essential, as either important or good to know.  You may find that you need some of this information later.
Finally, grouping essential curriculum into units may be a helpful final step in this process so that you can easily see how what you have chosen fits (or does not fit) together.
Once you have identified essential curriculum, you may want to get feedback.  I would recommend asking for feedback from the other grade-level represented in your discipline, from your currciculum coordinator, and/or from me or one of the other principals.  Sometimes it is good to ask for feedback from colleagues who are not in your same department.  If you are interested in this, I can help facilitate it.
Hopefully, once you have identified what is essential in your curriculum, you will feel like you have more time and/or can prepare better and/or be more flexible

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