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November 2017 Newsletter: Curriculum 101

For the past year, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Terri L. Breeden, has been working with principals, central office administrators, instructional coaches, IB coordinators and teachers to ensure that Shaker has a rigorous curriculum for all students. The curriculum and instruction team’s end goal is: to make the District curriculum IB aligned to the IB standards, clearly defined, filled with rigorous content and easy to find in an online repository. 

“We have expert teachers who are teaching wonderful lessons every day and our students are learning a tremendous amount,” says Dr. Breeden. “It’s important that we capture our curriculum so that we can analyze it, share it among teachers and build upon it. Having a curriculum that’s easily accessible means that teachers will have it at their fingertips. "It has been beneficial having a common place where teachers can collaborate," says High School English teacher Sharon Craig. 

We asked Dr. Breeden to give us a 101 on what curriculum is, what it isn’t and what the effect their efforts to capture the curriculum in one location will have on teachers. 

In layman’s terms, what is “curriculum”?

Many people have many different views. Search for a definition  and you’ll find 200 different definitions of curriculum. But curriculum really has three basic components. There’s the written component, which is the plan for teaching. Teachers must decide what do I want students to learn? How will I assess their learning?  How will I teach the lessons?  What resources must I gather? Etc. Then there’s the taught curriculum, which is what happens when the teacher teaches the lessons. And finally, there’s the assessment of the students.  Teachers must determine if the content was learned. 

A lot of folks confuse IB with curriculum. Can you clear this up?

IB is a philosophy that influences how we teach along with research-based practices. The state has Ohio’s Learning Standards, which we are required to teach. But the combination of the two with teacher’s creativity with teaching—our curriculum—is what makes us unique because we’re inquiry-based and we have a global view. 

So what’s this curriculum repository and who can see it?

The curriculum repository is stored online in a tool called ManageBac that’s accessible to all our educators. Previously, our curriculum existed in a lot of different places—shared files, pieces of paper, in teachers’ heads—it’s our goal to have all in one location and it’s dynamic. ManageBac is also specifically designed for IB, so it ensures that we’re teaching at a rigorous level and maintaining IB principles and standards. 

When the repository is fully populated, how do you see teachers using it?

Teachers have already begun to log in to ManageBac and populate the curriculum with their unit plans. As they’re teaching, they can go into ManageBac and insert links or notes that help other teachers who might have similar issues or who may be teaching something for the first time. If a new teacher accesses ManageBac, then he/she won’t have to start from ground zero with their lesson plans. Teachers will also be able to see what’s ahead for their students in the next grade, as well as what’s happened previously. In education, we call this “vertical articulation” which means that we’re all working together to make sure students have a well-rounded education. 

How will having an easy-to-find curriculum impact students?

ManageBac helps us with analysis. So as teachers put in information and strategies for different types of students—visual learners, auditory learners, etc.—we can easily drill down and help all students achieve at 100 percent. Why wouldn’t we want to learn from each other so that everyone can borrow from the best of the best? 


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