What is the Purpose of Your K-12 Curriculum?
Smedley said, "A speech without a purpose is like a journey without a destination" (as cited by Koegel, 2007, p. 34). The same can be said about curriculum development. A curriculum without a purpose is like a journey without a destination. Do the teachers and administrators in your school system have agreed upon learning outcomes for students at the end of each grade level? Do teachers and administrators have time scheduled throughout the school year to discuss which instructional strategies are working with certain grade levels or even with individual students?
The list below contains several of the skills and understandings that most teachers and parents would agree students should develop during the K-12 experience(s). If a parent moved from another state or country and asked teachers in your school district which skills and understandings are taught in the seventh grade, would the parent receive the same answer from teachers at three different middle schools?
Using the list below, add skills and understandings that you feel are missing. Are some of the identified skills more essential than others? Should some of the skills be taught in each grade, K-12? Should some of the skills be deemphasized due to the skills required by a changing workforce? Most importantly, what is the purpose for including each of these skills or understandings in the K-12 curriculum? Is your district's current curriculum meeting its intended purpose? What can be done to realign the district's curriculum in order to meet the agreed upon purposes during the 2010-2011 school year?
Sample Skills and Understandings:
2. Geographic Awareness
3. Decoding Skills
4. 21st Century Learning Skills
5. Presentation Skills
6. Writing Skills
7. Problem Solving Skills
8. World Languages
9. Literacy Skills
11. Character Education
12. Healthful Living
13. Personal Financial Literacy
14. Apply Mathematics in a variety of settings
15. Communication Skills
16. The Arts
17. Career Development
18. Interview Skills
19. Critical Thinking Skills
20. How to Apply Skills and Understandings
"All learners benefit from and should receive instruction that reflects clarity about purposes and priorities of content."
- Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe
Koegel, T.J. (2007). The exceptional presenter. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press.
Tomlinson, C.A., & McTighe, J. (2006). Integrating differentiated instruction and understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.