Wednesday, December 5, 2012

3 Curriculum Decisions to Make Right Now!

Decision paralysis is a real thing. Faced with making too many decisions at once and you’re likely to not make any decision at all. The mountain grows larger, the journey grows longer. Dan and Chip Heath talk about decision paralysis in their book, Switch. (2011) They describe scenarios where, rational or not, humans that are faced with too many choices can’t make a decision at all.

Lately, decision paralysis has become the modus operandi in education. We have become habitually overwhelmed to the point of non-action. We lament the good old days while our students, with their smart phones and modern environments and yearnings to move on, sit in front of us waiting to be prepared for colleges or careers.
So what do you do? Where do you start?
You only have to do three things. That’s right, just three things. Consider invigorating your curriculum with the following:

  • Choices
  • Thinking
  • Vocabulary

While there may be mountains of considerations with the new standards, their associated new assessments, and the tie-in to new teacher evaluations, these three things are really the core of your curriculum conversations and actions, no pun intended.

I’ve highlighted a few considerations in each of the three categories in the visual though there are a myriad strategies to engage in.
I would suggest research based / peer reviewed strategies versus textbook driven decisions, however. In a lot of schools, much emphasis is placed on the textbook as the driver of the curriculum and then there is shock and disappointment when the students don’t perform. Modernizing our work means that there must be a focus on the essential learning needs of students and truly preparing them for college and/or careers, and not on what a salesman would like for us to believe.
These three things are the learning essentials. They are the roots of good instruction and attending to them in specific and purposeful ways will help you align to new standards, prepare for new assessments, and prepare students for the world they will graduate into.
Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2011). Switch, how to change things when change is hard. (1st ed.). New York: Crown Business.
Mike on Twitter: @fisher1000
Upgrade Your Curriculum: Practical Ways to Transform Units and Engage Students - coming in Feb. 2013 from ASCD
Cure for the Common Core - eBook available now from Amazon


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