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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hit the Road Running: Step 4

Once you're familiar with what you need to teach, how and when your students will be assessed, and how you will be evaluated, it's time to create a long-range plan. Simply chunk out major units and arrange them on a year-long calendar.

Everything's better with friends! Working with colleagues energizes instructional planning. Our team started our curriculum calendar a few weeks ago. We decided to go week by week.

You can see that we're just getting started. In order to get to this point, we had ask serious questions:
  • What needs to be reviewed before we cover required standards?
  • Which standards must be taught first (and second, third, fourth…)?
  • Which resources are best for teaching those standards?
  • What other standards are supported by those resources?
  • What new resources will we need?
  • Which units are easy (for the beginning of the year) or difficult (for the end of the year)?
  • Which units should be taught simultaneously (or consecutively)?
  • Which units involve big student projects? (We didn't want to schedule two of those at the same time.)
  • Which units need to be taught just before testing?
  • Which units can be taught after testing?
  • How will we name the units on our calendar?
I have found that asking questions like these to create a year-long curriculum calendar really improve my planning (and teaching!) Doing what makes sense to this group of teachers who teach this population of students in this district is essential. Everyone's journey will look a little different - - - the benefit is in deep reflection on your instructional plan.

For us, the next step is to list information about each unit. We decided to share everything on a website, developed free with Google Sites. Each topic on our calendar link (or will link) to another page like this: 

The page for each big unit of study includes texts, materials, and/or resources; units of instruction (direct instruction of specific standards); key standards; additional standards addressed; assessment; and links.

Our team is rewriting (but not totally recreating) the entire curriculum for our high ability program this year. Therefore, our approach to creating a curriculum calendar will likely be more time-consuming than yours. I hope it has given you some food for thought.