Six months ago, the teachers at my school embarked on a journey to revamp and realign our curriculum. Since beginning, we’ve had a lot of adventures like creating a collaborative vision for our program, mapping our current curriculum, and researching existing curriculum standards to find a curriculum that meets the needs of our students. We’ve also branched off in a few directions to actualize our vision by beginning a project to earn our school Digital Citizenship Certification through a program offered by Common Sense Education and laying the groundwork for student blogging to begin in 2017.
The Curriculum Project: Teacher-Driven Change - Part 1
The Curriculum Project: Teacher-Driven Change - Part 2
Best of all, we’ve begun to write our new curriculum guides. After lots of meetings and administration’s official ‘seal of approval’ being given to the work our dedicated teachers have been doing, it was decided that we will roll out a new Writing curriculum based on the 2016 BC Curriculum in 2017. Teachers have been hard at work getting acquainted with BC’s exciting new standards and familiarizing themselves with Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design (UbD) framework.
Understanding by Design (UbD) is a curriculum design framework based on backwards design principals. The basic idea is to begin crafting a curriculum with the end in mind: the learning standards. After that, you determine how best to assess if students have understood the material. Finally, you write a learning plan that will help the students to learn what they need to. That’s it in a nutshell, Understanding by Design is a lot more nuanced than that brief description! It’s a fantastic resource for anyone designing curriculum units and I completely recommend it. You can buy the book here, on the ASCD website. I get paid nothing if you do, I just think it’s a great resource and worth way more than the asking price.
We’ve run some workshops to discuss UbD basics and how to create units based on the BC Curriculum. It’s been a great learning experience for me, and I think the other teachers have learned a bit, too.
Help yourself to some screencasts that I made for our staff to review the process! Perhaps they can be of some use to other teachers tackling projects using UbD or the BC Curriculum. Also, don't forget to pick up a copy of Understanding by Design by Wiggins and McTighe for a great read, especially if you’re a big curriculum geek like me!
Here are the slides without the thrilling (. . .) voice-over if you want to flip through them at your own pace!
Matthew Boomhower is a mid-career educator with 15 years of classroom teaching and educational leadership experience. He is Head of Innovation & Learning at an international school in Malaysia and is a proud husband and father.