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Curriculum and Lesson Plans

Curriculum and Lesson Plans



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Curriculum and Lesson Plans
Curriculum is at the heart of education. Investigate secondaryschool curriculum with this wealth of information, resources, and lessonplans for each subject area across thecurriculum.Curriculum DevelopmentCurriculum is not standardizedthroughout the nation or eventhoughout each state. Further, fromdistrict to district the actual plan of study is often different for students. This article looks at the reasons forthis lack of cohesiveness in creating anational curriculum and overarchingplan of study. It then creates a sampleplan of study that leads to furthercurriculum resources for teachers. The educational landscape in Americatoday is divided in its approach to acohesive curriculum. Attempts havebeen made to bring order thecurriculum universe through theadvent of national standards.However, in many subject areas thereare competing national standardsbecause of the existence of differentnational organizations such as theNational Science Teachers Association and the National Academies Press.  With this said, just because a nationalgroup like theNational Council of  Teachers of Englishdecides on aspecific set of standards, this does notmean that those will be adopted oreven referred to by an individualstate. Each state comes up with itsown set of standards and its ownformat for writing those standards.Some states may use the nationalstandards but often they create theirown based on needs and interestswithin their own state and currentpolitical and educational philosophies. This makes curriculum fragmented butit becomes even more complicated asyou move closer to the classroom.
Local Control of Schools andCurriculum
In the United States there is a strongbelief in local control of schools. Though districts adhere to statestandards, there is a great deal of latitude in what actually takes place inthe classroom. Districts might createguiding documents that the schoolsthen follow. From one district toanother, you might find that a courseis taught in a different year. Forexample, one district might haveeconomics and government taught inninth grade while another has it intwelfth grade. The reason for differences inclassroom coverage goes even furtherthan this. The amount of lesson planoversight required by each districtvaries widely. Therefore, you mightfind that if you compare the syllabi of two teachers at two different schoolswithin a district who are teaching thesame course to be very different. Thisidea of local and even classroomcontrol is championed by many butmeans that new teachers often have adifficulty in determining exactly whatthey should teach. Some end up usingthe textbook as a guide while others,the lucky ones, have great mentorswho guide them in their course layout.
Sample Plans of Study
 To help bring order to this difficultlandscape and bring an understandingof effective and progressive plans of study through the grade levels, we willbe presenting sample plans of studyfor each grade level in the comingweeks. From there, you will be able toaccess detailed information forindividual courses and including themajor topics which should be coveredwithin those courses. Finally, you willfind numerous quality resources forthe listed topics to help you createengaging lessons for your students.
Curriculum development
By Linda Fitzharris
 Journal of Staff Development 
, Summer1999 (Vol. 20, No. 3)
Teachers must be empowered to moreeffectively design their owncurriculum, and to move from the position of curriculum conveyer tothat of curriculum designer.
Much of the curriculum found intoday’s schools is based on teachers’past experience in schools, input fromtextbook manufacturers, disciplineframeworks, standards, andinformation from peers (Glasgow,1997).Often a curriculum is only loosely joined together, with students farbetter acquainted with its scope andsequence than the educators whoteach it.With teachers facing growing pressureto teach more, while also being heldto higher standards, this approach tocurriculum is no longer acceptable. Teachers must be empowered to moreeffectively design their owncurriculum, and to move from theposition of curriculum conveyer tothat of curriculum designer.
MethodGetting to know the curriculum
 The first step in this process requiresgetting teachers to share theircurriculum with other teachers in theschool. During a schoolwide meeting,teachers from each grade levelsummarize their curriculum on chartpaper for science, social studies,language arts, and mathematics.Special area teachers write theircurriculum on chart paper as well, sotheir colleagues can understandingthe development of skills andconcepts across grade levels. Toensure the integrity of the curriculum,teachers are encouraged to return totheir curriculum documents.Frequently, they discover parts of thecurriculum they had forgotten or hadgiven only cursory attention.After all charts have been completed,grade level and special area teachersshare their curriculum with the entirefaculty, and describe some of theteaching lessons/units they use toteach that curriculum. Many veteranteachers comment that this stepprovides the first opportunity they’veever had to understand the entirecurriculum in their school. Thisschoolwide sharing process invariablyhighlights repetitions in content andteaching activities.During the sharing process, teacherstake notes and discuss apparent gapsand repetitions. They also discussgrade-level responsibilities. Curricularterms and content that appear onseveral grade levels are defined. Cleardefinitions help teachers articulategrade-level expectations, and moveteachers closer to being able to"guarantee" learning standards fortheir students.
Developing curriculum maps
Curriculum mapping is the next stepin the process. Teachers use largepieces of chart paper with the schoolmonths on the top, and colored stickynotes – different colors for each corearea. Teachers write the differentgoals, objectives, and topics of thecurriculum on the notes and arrangethem across the school year.During this step, teachers re-examinethe sequence and emphases of thecurriculum. One 4th-grade teacher, forexample, realized she was devotingfive months of the school year to theCivil War, while World War II andVietnam received only a couple of days each. When asked why, shereplied that "the kids really love theCivil War." Then she acknowledgedthat she really liked it as well, and that"I have lots of material on it." Whenshe looked, for the first time, at herwhole year’s curriculum, sherecognized the imbalance and cut herCivil War coverage back to a fewweeks.When all the curriculum areas havebeen mapped, the information can beplaced on a preprinted file folder thatlists all required subject areas on theside and the months across the top. The file folder provides a detailed lookat all subject areas and provides cleararticulation between special areas andclassroom teachers. It’s also anexcellent resource for new teachers orteachers who are changing gradelevels.
Webbing the curriculum
As the curriculum takes shape,teachers are encouraged to look atthe different disciplines for commonideas, complementaryskills/strategies, or other links thatmight be used to create a meaningfulintegrated study. Sticky notes arearranged and rearranged as teacherslook for logical connections betweenand among the different disciplines. Inthis way, a "curriculum web," whichspells out the connections, can becreated.For example, a social studies teacherwho wants to explore the relationshipsbetween humans and theirenvironment could focus on humaninteractions between humans andoceans. A science teacher couldcomplement this with curriculum thatexamines the physical properties of water, sand, and other parts of theocean ecosystem. And a language artsteacher could use oceans as a basisfor student writing and storytelling. This in turn leads to the developmentof a second web, which identfiesactivities for delivering the curriculum.It shows specific methods, techniques,and materials teachers will use.It’s imperative that the teachers keepthis curriculum webbing processfocused on student interests andneeds. Ask yourselves the kind of questions students are likely to ask:Why should I bother learning this?What difference does it make?(Glasgow).Also, be careful not to "superglue"curriculum together for the sake of saying you have created a web. Thereis little to be gained, for students orteachers, by trying to forceconnections, such as having studentscount seashells to provide an ocean-related math activity!During the webbing process, manymore objectives/standards will beidentified than will be used. Thebrainstorming provides a valuablesource of ideas and may be revisitedagain and again to refine thecurricular links.
The role of assessment
As the school year unfolds andteachers deliver their curriculum tostudents, assessments should ensurethat students participate in a range of activities, so they can demonstratelearning in a variety of formats. Teachers should continually discusswhat students should know and beable to do, and must identify or createassessment instruments to evaluatestudent progress. These can includetraditional tests, or alternatives suchas student portfolios or performances.
Taking maps to another level
Many schools usethe maps developedduring thecurriculum-writingprocess to prepare aparent handbook,which spells out thecurriculum learnedon each grade level.
Some schools postthe chart paperscreated by teachersin the hallways, toshare the progressbeing made and toinvite all students inthe school to seethe "big" picture.
Others have usedthe maps togeneratenewsletters to theparents. Curriculumtopics may beshared by the week,month, gradingperiod, or year.
Clearly designedmaps provide aroadmap for theteachers, students,administrators, andparents and provideopportunities foreffectivecommunication.
 They also helpteachers andadministratorsanalyze how theyare spending theirinstructional time, acritical step in theera of accountability.
Curriculum Development
1. Refers to programmaticgoals or targets forinstruction.
2. Is “what to teach”(Bagnato & Neisworth, 1981)
3. Planned arrangement of learning experiencesdesigned to elicit changes inchildren’s behaviors.
4. Is series of planned,systematic learningexperiences organizedaround a particular rationaleor philosophy of educationthat includes goals &objectives, particular contentareas (e.g., cognitive,language, perceptual, etc.).
5. There appears to beagreement that educationalintervention with childrenmust be guided by a clear,systematic plan or blueprint.
 Theoretical Bases forCurricula
1. EC curricula tended toadopt rationales for theircurricula based on clearlyidentifiable theoretical orphilosophical bases.Frequently, theoretical &philosophical bases usedinterchangeably.
Curriculum Content
1. Identifying targets of intervention for ea child witha disability is ongoingprocess. One needs toidentify skills most importantfor individual child.Identification of targets isaccomplished by examiningcharacteristics of child,demands of environment, &necessary skills to besuccessful.
2. Content for youngchildren with disabilitiesusually includes broad rangeof skills that are appropriatefor most children who do nothave disabilities (Wolery &Sainato, 1996)
3. Team members worktogether to adapt curriculumas needed to addresschildren’s goals or outcomesstated on IFSPs & IEPs.
4. Objectives representlearning expectations & arebased on child strengths,needs, & family’spreferences. Objectives differfrom goals or outcomes inthat they separate goal intosmaller components.
Table 7-3, ConstructingAppropriate Curriculum-reflects DAP
Types of Curricular  Approaches
4 organizational sources forEC curricula:
1. Permissive enrichmentprograms- This approachfocuses on whole-childdevelopment through naturalprocess of individual inquiry.
Seedfeldt (1976) used termnaturalistic theory todescribe theoretical base of this approach. This looselystructured, child-centeredmodel depends on notionthat self-initiated exploratoryinteractions will result inlearning.
2. Structured environmentprograms (e.g., High Scope)-Often employing Montessorimethod as well. Thecurricula attempt toemphasize intellectualdevelopment by allowingchild-initiated interactionswith carefully selectedmaterials within teacher-structured environment.
3. Structured cognitiveprograms – Organized intoseries of systematic goalswithin sequential stages. This approach is usuallycalled Piagetian or cognitivedevelopmental theory. Theteacher supports ororchestrates development bypromoting active learning(direct experience withobjects & events). The goalsare to produce near normalfunctioning in delayedpreschoolers, & to enhancefunctioning in all areas togreatest extent.
4. Structured informationprogram – Known as behaviortheory. Such curricula arehighly structured, with goalstightly organized intospecific, task analyzed,sequential steps. Suchcurricular emphasize directinstruction, positiveresponding by all children, &reinforcement forimprovement. Often thisapproach is remedial innature, suggesting thatchild’s basic deficits arecontent for & targets of curriculum.
5. The other approaches toEC curricula: developmentaltasks, educational contentareas, & psychologicalconstructs.
6. Developmental taskapproach – essentiallyreplicates normal sequenceof development usuallybased on normative infoabout way children develop. The content is usuallyorganized into developmentaldomains including grossmotor, fine motor, language,social, & self-help.Developmental milestones inthese areas then organizedinto sequenced objectives tobe taught to child.Developmental landmarksbecome instructionalobjectives. Usuallyemphases are speech &language, cognitive skills,compliance training,reduction of negativebehavior, & parent training.
7. Educational content areaapproach – uses rationalethat certain pre-academic &academic content essentialto success in school. Suchpreschool curricula tend to bedownward extensions of regular public schoolprograms using traditionaleducational approach. Thisapproach is not a DAP.
8. Curricula withpsychological constructapproach organized intocontent areas representingcomplex facet of personalitydevelopment orpsychological processes.Such curricula may bederived from Gestalt,psychoanalytic, orcognitive-developmentaltheory. Topics such asmotivation, self-concept,identity, & sexuality may beincluded.
Factors Prior to Adoption
Review the chart oncriteria for evaluation of criteria in anotherhandout.
In addition to particulartheoretical model, factors toconsider prior to using acurriculum or curricularapproach are:
1. Curriculum designed toaccomplish statedpurposes/goals.
EX: what terminalbehaviors
Goals stated explicitly
Goals rep reasonableexpectations or outcomes
2. Curriculum includesmethods or tools forassessing learner’s startingposition relative to eachmajor goal. With child’sposition on goals identified, itis implied that a sequence of related behaviors is defined.
Learner assessment toolssupplied with curriculum canbe evaluated to determinehow effectively & thoroughlythey address child’s positionon each goal.
3. Children’s respectivepositions on ea goal strandsuggest that they arepredisposed or ready to learnwhatever comes next. Whata child is learning usuallydepends on his position onseveral goal strandsconsidered together.Overall pattern of child’s
current behavior determineswhat is right for child.
 The child’s current behavioralrepertoire of child determineswhat child will most readilylearn. Some curriculaproceed as if each goalstrand operates in isolationto determine what islearnable. Ideally, thecurriculum should allow oneto establish a deliberatematch between a smallnumber of more globallearner characteristics, e.g.,cognitive level, interest, levelof social involvement, etc. There should be a matchbetween the number of learner activities that are toimpact on particular goalstrands, so match betweenchild characteristics &activities.
4. Behavior change ordevelopment comes aboutthrough experience. One canarrange group of learningactivities to impact on morethan one goal strand.
5. Learning activities willtake place under particularenvironmental condition.Curricular developmentshould aspire to causeenvironmental conditions,e.g., media, materials, etc.
6. A curriculum consists of some intentional mixes of experiences that suited tooverall developmental levelsof learners who willparticipate. Even thoughterminal goals may all beconsidered equallyimportant, not all givenequal emphasis at all timesacross years of EC.
7. Those who work withyoung children withdisabilities need to knowwhat effects particulardisabilities may have onmatch of curriculum tolearner. Other thanadjustments for generaldevelopmental delay,additional specific curricularadaptations for specificdisabilities are needed bychildren with particularimpairments.
 Additional Standards tobe Considered WhenSelecting Curricula
Developmental Balance& Expansion -
Aredeliberate pacing & selectionof curricular objectives thatprogrammatically sample allmajor areas of development.Parallel progress acrossdevelopmental domains issought rather than a strongtilt toward any 1developmental area.Developmental balancefostered by a curriculum thatprovides array of objectiveswithin all major areas of development. A rich array of sequenced objectivesexpedites central mission of early instruction.
Both vertical & horizontalexpansion can beaccomplished with thecorrect curricula. Verticalexpansion refers toinstallation of new skills,proficiencies, that werepreviously unavailable inrepertoire of child. Verticalgrowth, or building up of skills in major developmentalareas, is first goal of earlyeducation program,especially for children whoseprofiles show many valleys.Horizontal expansion pertainsto development of behavioralvariability across materials,settings, & response modes(e.g., verbal, nonverbal) afterskill is established. This termrefers to generalization fortransfer of basic skills tocircumstances beyond thoseof training situation.
It is usually important toaffect response variability sonot precisely same behavioris used across all settings(Stokes & Baer, 1977). Thisrequires programming forskill fluency & flexibility. Inother words, one should“train loosely” using differentmaterials, phrases, etc.,throughout training. . Same(invariance of) trainingcircumstances may producelearning that is situationspecific behavior.
2. Normalization - Curriculashould include range of objectives that successivelyapproximate normalfunctioning for age(Wolfensberger, 1972).Children with delays can beentered into curriculum atappropriate levelcommensurate with theirdevelopmental age in givenarea of development. Thus,a 4-year old might requireinstruction at 2-year old levelin cognitive & languageareas, at 3-year old level insocio-emotional functioning,& 4-year old level in motoricarea. The job of educator isone of providingdevelopmental facilitation inea area (developmentalbalance principle) at least upto chronological ageexpectancy (normalization).
When normalization is takenseriously, it becomes crucialto use curricula that offerspaths, or sequences of objectives, leading to typicalskills, even if these skills aredevelop beyond usualchronological age.
3. DevelopmentalIntegration - For eacheducation, one speaks of developmental integration torefer to grouping together of children with & withoutdisabilities. Students can beintegrated on both social &instructional bases, e.g., playtogether on sameplayground, eat lunchtogether. Often, it is possibleto have children with &without disabilities workingon same activity together atdiff levels. It is helpful tohave curriculum that offersseveral developmental levelsor versions of task or thatprovides task analysis (TA)for given activity. Theseprovisions of TA & differentlevels make it possible forchildren to work at sameactivity but at different levelsof sophistication.
4. Spiral Organization - Spiralrefers to organization thatdeliberately repeatsobjectives from one year tonext but in increasingcomplex versions. A goodspiral curriculum includesrepetition of objectives withprogression elaboration. These features assist inmaintenance &generalization of skills.Relearning or practice of skillcan promote retention, animportant consideration sincemany skills not automaticallyretained after intervention.
5. Central Mission - Isrepertoire or developmentalexpansion of programs forchildren with disabilities orat-risk for developmentaldelays so that delayed ordistorted development canbe normalized.
Curriculum Packages
1. Curriculum-BasedAssessment- containsassessment scale &accompanying curriculumguide.
Hawaii Early Learning ProfileInside Help (Parks, 1992)
Help for Special Preschoolers(Santa Cruz County Office of Education, 1987)
Carolina Curriculum forPreschoolers with SpecialNeeds (Johnson-Martin,Attermeier, & Hacker, 1990)
 The Carolina Curriculum forInfants and Toddlers withSpecial Needs (Johnson-Martin, Attermeier, & Hacker,1991)
 The Assessment, Evaluation,and Programming Systems(AEPS) for Infants andChildren (Bricker, 1993)
Curriculum Planning &Implementation
1. Curriculum planning inearly childhood education isintegrated thematic units. Thematic units usuallyplanned around topical areasof interest to young children(e.g., animals, holidays,special events)
2. Characteristics of Integrated Curriculum includeexperiences to developattitudes, skills, & knowledge& make connections acrosscurriculum. Activities providefor range of abilities.Activities are both teacher-initiated & directed, & child-initiated & directed. Wholeclass, small group, &

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