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Curriculum Design

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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…

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…

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…

This year, I’ve helped teachers in varied districts adopt or adapt the New York State Curriculum Modules, Domains, and Units for English Language Arts. I’ve helped others design their own curricula as well. Regardless of the approach, I continue to hear great things from the teachers and fellow professional development service providers who are wrapping up their piloting processes and planning to make informed adjustments. I have to admit, it’s not their feedback that inspires…

When I began Common Core lesson studies with elementary teachers two years ago, they made the same surprising observation in each of the classrooms I taught in that spring: the background knowledge that many readers shared was often very interesting. Some was even compelling. And much of it was completely inaccurate. This didn’t surprise us, but what typically happened next did: when I invited readers to share their background knowledge through talk prior to reading,…

Perhaps you’re more than little bit invested in the idea of increasing job satisfaction for yourself and for those that you work with even as you’re Racing to the Top. Perhaps you can appreciate the importance of starting with vision, of thinking bigger (and smaller) than the CCLS, and of honoring the distinction between evaluation and assessment throughout every phase of this work. Perhaps you understand that this is not the time to simply get…

In order to mine a standard’s true meaning, you typically have to unwrap it a bit. The purpose of this work is to distinguish the standard’s explicit and implicit meaning. Implicit meaning? Aren’t standards supposed to be articulated with precision? Well, that’s the hope, but even the best standards require skillful interpretation. This is informed by the professional conversations that we have with others and the expertise we are all willing to share. For instance,…