I once heard a teacher describe his curriculum as a graveyard. “We keep adding things but we never take anything out,” he said. If your school espouses a standards-based curriculum, the staff should ask whether they have accepted the curriculum salesperson’s word that all the standards are included in the curriculum, or whether they have actually done an internal assessment to align the curriculum with the standards. Here’s a summary of how it works using Math as the example:
- With a list of state standards in hand, go through the teacher’s Math manual and use a sticky note to mark the lesson(s) where each standard is covered. Check it off on your list of standards as you go.
- When you’re done, note which standards are not covered at all. These are the standards for which you will have to supplement with additional resources.
- Note the lessons in the Math curriculum that are not part of your grade level standards. If you skip over them, can students still understand the content/lessons that follow? (You may come back to these later….)
- Then determine the order you (or your team) want to present the lessons. This does not necessarily have to follow the order the manual does. Can you get in all the topics before state testing? Where do you need to condense and where do you want to spend more time?
- The topics that are not part of state testing can come after state testing to help prepare students for next year. These teachers may need the lessons to be taught as foundation for their standards.
Most of the time teachers do this, they are surprised to find they can actually take things out of the curriculum, giving them more time to focus on things they need to in order to prepare for state testing or to meet the needs of struggling or gifted students. This can also be the lead-in to ongoing assessments and Data-Driven Instruction.
For information about staff training on Aligning Curriculum or Data Driven Instruction, please feel free to contact me.