20 Jun Five Ways to Map Student-Centered Curriculum in Atlas
Five dynamic schools across Qatar, Washington D.C., Belgium, and Connecticut share innovative ways they have structured their unit planning templates to design student-centered curriculum. Learn more about Atlas, the curriculum mapping platform featured in this blog.
1. Student Struggles & Successes
Krista Miller, Curriculum Director at Vision International School, Qatar
Vision International School (Qatar) opened in September 2014. While some teachers had experience using Atlas in previous schools, most of our teachers did not. Our challenge was to provide an ‘all at once’ entry point for a diverse staff.
We determined that template design was going to be key to successful implementation and worked with Atlas staff in our first year to put together a template that reflected our planning priorities according to a UbD model.
As the majority of our students are English Language Learners, a section was designated for the inclusion of Language Learning Goals. This section is used by ELL teachers to co-plan with content teachers.
To encourage record keeping and reflection, a section was included that helps teachers to focus on these processes… a kind of ‘notes to self’ area for future reference.
2. Student Preconceptions, Common Misunderstandings, & Bloom’s Taxonomy
Kristin Nordeen, Science Curriculum Manager at Chavez Schools, DC
The Preconceptions and Common Misunderstandings category is used to provide teachers with an understanding of what knowledge on-grade level students will likely enter their class knowing (preconceptions). The misconceptions are designed to provide teachers with an idea of ways in which students may become confused or challenged with the material due to their prior knowledge and background experiences. Therefore, this category allows for teachers, as they plan lessons aligned with the given essential concept and objectives in the curriculum, to scaffold in supports for students to prevent or to teach in a way to correct student misunderstandings. Teachers will be able to be forward-thinking in their lesson plan design so as not to have to re-teach a lesson due to a common misunderstanding of students for that essential concept. This category in the curriculum is designed to prepare teachers for student questions and challenges related to a particular group of course concepts.
The Knowledge Dimension in the Weekly Objectives category is used to identify and to provide awareness to teachers regarding the cognitive demands placed on students given the written objectives for a particular essential concept. This designation is used to support teachers in their lesson planning as they move students up the levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.
3. Student Inquiry
Ben Mullens, Leader of Integrated Learning at The British School of Brussels, Belgium
From the beginning of the current academic year, class teachers in our Primary School started to differentiate learning opportunities for their students through inquiry based approaches to learning. With the assistance of Atlas, we revised the planning template on our system, to make teachers think in terms of structured, guided and open-ended inquiries. This approach has already led to much more effective levels of differentiation and raised the quality and opportunities for our younger students by providing them with greater ownership and direction of their learning.
4. Learner Outcomes
Teresa DeBrito, Director of Curriculum & Instruction at Regional School District 12, CT
“Learner Outcomes are specific high school designations of all graduates making them high school requirements that show up on their transcript – in-line with NEASC, which is different than the content standards. The Learner Outcomes are skills that span across all disciplines.
All K-12 teachers have the option of selecting any of the four learner outcomes that are appropriate for their units even if their kids are not in high school – the skill building still supports all that they will be expected to do at the high school level beyond the standards. There are specific rubrics for each of the learner outcomes that provides students with feedback on their mastery of that skill. In addition, departments adopted specific learner outcomes that naturally fit into their subjects to ensure that students had experience with all outcomes.”
Lisa Lassen, Curriculum Technology Facilitator at Amity Regional School District 5, CT
“We had [Rubicon Atlas] add the literacy box because a number of years ago one of our Board goals was to improve literacy across the grades as part of college and career readiness. Our reading specialists in all three schools developed/collected many literacy strategies and reviewed them with all the teachers. Teachers were charged with incorporating literacy into every curriculum.
We used to use Beyond the Blueprint, but once the CCSS came out, we switched to the CCSS Anchor Standards. We left the Beyond the Blueprint in as many teachers had added a lot of info already and we didn’t want them to have to repeat that work until it was time for them to revise their maps. Teachers are supposed to check of the standards they are implementing and then write a brief note about any specific strategies they are utilizing.
It is excellent to have it in its own box for multiple reasons. First, we can run reports easily. Second, it makes the literacy initiative more visible to teachers (serves as a reminder that they are supposed to be incorporating these strategies). Third, it helps Marie, as Director of Curriculum and Staff Development, give structure to what is expected in the curriculum writing process.” You can also check out their maps on their Atlas Public site!