How to write awesome curriculum units
You need a foundation and walls when building a house.
Imagine telling construction workers to pour a foundation and erect some walls. If they don’t know what the plan is, the project will become a series of random actions with no purpose.
Building a curriculum isn’t too dissimilar from building a house. Like any structure, the curriculum unit must also begin with a plan. Without purpose and plan, you may end up stringing random lessons together.
Why not purchase a curriculum unit?
Writing a curriculum unit can seem like a lot of work. Sometimes it is. That’s why you can purchase pre-made curriculum units.
A pre-made curriculum unit, however, may be a personalized as standardized blueprint. Scripted-curricula-in-a-box often can’t deliver what your students need. No prepackaged curriculum unit will take into consideration who your students are or what differentiation this year’s group of students requires from you.
Other challenges of the pre-made curriculum unit include:
- Lack of customization
- A down-the-middle approach that leaves out students
- Ignoring how teachers build rapport and relationships with students
As a result, cookie-cutter curricula will leave you and your students hungry for more. They aren’t satisfying.
Teachers set awesome curriculum units in motion. Writing these units may be easier than you think.
Begin at the end
Before you build any basic structure, you have to know how the end result will look. When you write your curriculum unit, start with the final product. What do you want your students to be able to do at the end of your curriculum unit?
Pinpoint the learning standards your students must master. Think about how students will prove that they have learned the material. That’s their assessment.
Once this foundation is in place, you’re ready to build your curriculum unit.
Keep students at the center
There’s no Pulitzer Prize for writing lesson plans or building a curriculum unit. While a curriculum plan is necessary, it’s not the most essential thing in your instructional day.
Your students are.
For that reason, every curriculum unit must be about the students in your class right now, this year. Last year’s plan was for last year’s students. You may have an awesome curriculum unit that you pull out every year, but remember that it has to be adjusted for the students you have now.
When deciding on learning tasks, consider:
- Individual student needs
- Cultural requirements for materials
- The background experiences of your students
With each lesson, envision what your students will be doing. Their involvement should be active and meaningful because your lessons have relevance.
Allow for loose-tight variables
Your administrator is aware of the loose-tight principle necessary for running a school. It means that while there are rigid systems in place for daily operations, there will be times that you’ll have to be flexible.
School leaders expect you to take daily attendance. That’s a non-negotiable, a tight connector. Campus principals also are aware that a plan is only a plan, and this is a loose connector.
If the plan doesn’t work the way you thought it would, or you see an opportunity for a teachable moment, run with it. Make the change.
Writing your curriculum unit requires additional work on your part, but the reward for doing it is immeasurable. With careful planning, you’ll have a customized approach to learning.