Sunday, March 13, 2022

Streamlining the curriculum for the modern learner - What to cut, keep and create

I've been enjoying some great ToddleTIES session today as well (yes - I know I've also been leading a workshop but I hopped straight onto the ToddleTIES platform afterwards to catch up with all the learning there!)

This afternoon I've been listening to Heidi Hayes Jacobs who has been talking about streamlining the curriculum.  She discusses how learning has changed as a result of the pandemic and now that most of us are back in schools again there are some ways we can respond to what happened over the past 18 months to 2 years: 

1.  Recover - catch up.  In the UK this seems to be the main thrust at the moment.  Just this week in the news there have been reports about learning loss - with some areas of the country being harder hit than others by the achievement gap.  The government's response has been to employ catch up tutors - but evidence is showing that this is not proving to be very effective.

2. Refresh - take onboard some lessons that we learned and continue to use them.  One example of this could be the way we have embraced new technology.  We don't need to go back to the same-old, same-old as before the pandemic because we know there are effective new way of reaching our learners that include technology.

3.  Reset - have a good think about what have we learned and what is no longer relevant in the curriculum - as Heidi says, it's bloated and cumbersome and much can be cut or at least cut back to create room for what is really important.

We can't just keep holding on to what we are used to.  Streamlining is essential.  It's not just cutting out, but we streamline to make the curriculum more efficient.  We need to decide what to cut out,  what to cut back, what to consolidate, what new to create.  Not everything is necessary in the curriculum.  We should cut back on many things,  though obviously important technical and cognitive skills should be kept.  We should also consider how we can bring in the voice of the students as we are thinking creatively about what needs to be in the curriculum - especially how to do make it relevant for them.  We cannot keep adding on new things unless we cut out, cut back and consolidate.

One important lesson from online learning is that parents don't really understand the curriculum documents or even the instructions sent home during online learning - curriculum and lesson planning should be more manageable for teachers and should be understood by both learners and their parents.  Therefore, Heidi argues, curriculum documents should be written in language that students can understand including "I can" statements for the learning goals.  We need to ask who the learning is for - it's for the students - so we need to consider them as the audience when we write.  We need feedback from both parents and students on our curriculum documents - in particular if students don't know what the target is they can't hit it!  By having them give input into the curriculum they can participate in their own learning and self-monitor their progress.   They need to see where they are going and understand how they are going to get there.

Image credit:  Maki on Pixabay

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