Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Review: The Curriculum Audit

The Curriculum Audit as I described it included three steps:
  • Identifying High Priority Standards by "testing" each for endurance, leverage, and readiness,
  • Comparing High Priority Standards with our current curricula to identify what is essential, and
  • Unpacking Essential Curriculum in terms of rigor, prerequisite skills, and other imporant aspects of learning design.
The Curriculum Audit is designed to help manage our curricula so that we can teach for depth rather than breadth.  Because what we are teaching is essential and supported by standards that have endurance, leverage, and readiness, students who demonstrate that they understand (versus just know a lot) will be able to transfer their understandings, knowledge, and skills to new, different, and potentially more challenging situations (like unfamiliar questions on a state test, for example).
In addition, these three steps are important content for valuable conversations among your colleagues.  There are several advantages to working on the work:
  • Increased professionalism and colleagiality,
  • Increased student achievement,
  • Lower stress levels, and
  • Improved teaching.
Your expertise is important in the process.  I trust what you know of your content and the methods of teaching that content.  There are several right answers, and your discussions, arduous and time consuming as they might be, are valuable and important.
Based on some excellent feedback and conversation with teachers, I would like to clarify a couple things as well:
  1. Please try to let the templates work for you.  If you find that they are time consuming, counter-intuitive, or redundant, let me know, so we can work through it.  I trust your judgment, so if there is general consensus that standards meet all three tests, skip the explanations and work through either exceptions are where there is disagreement, for example. I appreciate everyone trying to work through the template exaclty how it was written, but in some cases it was more of a detriment than a support
  2. All GLEs and relevant CCSS should be audited, particularly those that apply to the two units your department will be working on this year.  The entire curriculum should be audited as well.
  3. Hold a flexible mindset, please, and be prepared to revise.  This work is recursive: we may return to other steps and other work as we learn so that we can continuously improve and as we learn more about our new state test in 2013-2014.
Some teachers have expressed anxiety over coding the Board-approved curriculum in such a way that not all of it is taught.  Just this week, John Simpson and I met, and he acknowledges your work as being a prototype for the kind of work he would like to facilitate in the district from his role.
Finally, I wonder if a timeline might be helpful.  I think it might be best if I met with each department, and we determined a timeline together.  The goal, overall, for the year is a curriculum audit and two drafts of unit plans by the end of the school year.  Keep moving through the process, and if you get stymied, please ask for help.
If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know how I can be supportive.

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