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Curriculum Development

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How might school leaders use this framework to design, launch, and work through varied iterations of their theories of change? How might teachers use this same framework to design, launch, and work through varied iterations of their curricular units and lessons? How might writers use this same framework to design, launch, and work through varied iterations of the pieces they are composing? How might makers use this same framework to design, launch, and work through varied iterations of…

Over the several years, I’ve had the opportunity to begin designing emergent curriculum with several different groups of writing teachers. Last week, our journey continued as we began to embrace the opportunities and confront the challenges inherent in co-designing curriculum with young writers. And that’s what we’ve been trying to do: Design with kids, rather than ahead of them. It’s not uncommon for people to assume that emergent curriculum is purely student-driven. It’s also not…

Consider complexity: Now, distinguish it from richness: I’m wondering….. ….about the relationship between complexity and richness. ….about the pursuit of complexity at the expense of richness. ….how complexity might contribute to richness. I’ve learned that….. Richness is equated with harmony and unity. Richness is about joyful productivity and gratification. Richness is abundance. Richness is brilliance. The near antonyms of richness are misery, torment, and tribulation. Over the last few years, I’ve begun…

On Tuesday, I shared a visual intended to help teachers conceptualize the whole of a writing workshop year before sharing a unit framework that middle level teachers might use to investigate social justice beside their students. Today, I’d like to show you the dashboard behind this kind of unit design. Those who have worked with me inside of writing workshops and studios are sometimes surprised to learn that I’m a fan of standards and other clear…

It was empathy that drew me to design thinking. The notion that creative people might best begin their work by seeking to understand the needs of their audiences was compelling. And it got me thinking, once again: Why aren’t all young writers creating real stuff for real audiences about things that really matter? Some are, I know. Too many aren’t though, and I can’t help but wonder if the way we introduce the writing process…

This spring, I had the opportunity to work with teachers from southern Erie and Cattaraugus Counties. Our initial sessions challenged teachers to define writers’ craft, the process, and the values and habits of masterful writers. Then, we considered how the progression of these skills and dispositions builds and evolves as experience is gained. Teachers returned to their classrooms with new ideas to consider and test. As I prepared to see them again last week, I hoped that…

I’ve spent much of this school year designing writing curricula with primary, elementary, and middle school teachers in different schools throughout western New York. Our process is iterative: We don’t design to deliver units to students. We are prototyping, piloting, and redesigning as we go, in response to what we learn from our clients: The young writers we serve. There is much to be gained by rethinking our roles as curriculum designers and the way…

Proponents of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth argue that this basic pattern underpins most narratives and that when writers deepen their understanding of this structure, they are often better able to craft their own stories. Grasping monomyth empowers writers to tinker around with it as well, questioning the traditional order of events and even experimenting with new and unexpected forms. Interested in establishing a foundational understanding of the hero’s journey with very young writers? The tools below…

  This year, I’m supporting teachers across several districts as they work to implement the new Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Text created by Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. In each district, it’s been important to bring teachers together regularly to unpack each unit and plan for future instruction. Debriefing has been just as important. The chart below is one that I used…

This chart was designed for yesterday’s session with intermediate level teachers who are just beginning to implement writer’s workshop. They are unpacking the Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing written by Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project this year, and the chart provided a tidy snapshot of the anatomy of a quality mini-lesson.