Have you ever encountered curriculum that caused more headaches than it cured? This lesson outlines strategies teachers can use to refine curriculum after it has been implemented.
A Refined Curriculum
No matter which subject you teach, finding the perfect curriculum is likely impossible. The sheer diversity of learning styles and student personalities in a classroom practically guarantees that there is no one-size-fits-all lesson plan or content.
However, there are several ways that you can refine your existing curriculum to promote student learning.If you can’t personally choose the curriculum you use in class and instead have to use materials chosen by your school administration, you may find yourself in a position where you need to make the best of a bad situation. The first step you should take is to assess the curriculum at your disposal. Hopefully, you will have some discretion of which elements of the material to keep and which elements can be ignored or given less precedence.One of the best tools you have at your disposal is the ability to evaluate how students react to curriculum through classroom observation, exam scores, and homework assessment.
If you notice upward or downward performance trends using these criteria, you’ll be better able to make the needed curriculum refinements.
Curriculum Refining Strategies
It’s important to keep in mind that no matter how much you may dislike the curriculum you are using, don’t let students know this. If you make comments deriding the curriculum, students may be turned off when you attempt to deliver the content you have already identified as being poor. Students should feel confident in the materials and information they receive in class, and publicly airing any curriculum grievances you have can quickly reduce student confidence and engagement.When you are faced with classroom curriculum that is less than ideal, it’s up to you to make the best of the situation to ensure that student learning is promoted. The strategies outlined below can be used both individually and in tandem depending on your needs and the type of materials you are trying to refine.
Refine the Pace
If you find yourself in a situation where the curriculum is either too advanced or too easy for your students, don’t be afraid to slow down or speed up the pace at which you deliver the content. For example, if a lesson that is scheduled to take one day will actually take two days, it’s better to slow down and have students understand the material rather than make them confused by going too quickly. If you have to stick to a specific timeline, consider the following time-saving techniques:
- Ask students to pre-read material before the lesson.
- Make homework assignments shorter.
- Provide students with an outline of the key content and main points of a lesson.
By using time flexibility, you can make the curriculum fit into your schedule, instead of the other way around.
Remove the Excess
If you won’t have enough time to cover the entire assigned curriculum in a quarter or semester, you may need to think about which lesson’s unit components need to can be removed.
Your ability to skip certain parts of curriculum will depend largely on which subject you are teaching. For instance, the curriculum in a math subject typically builds cumulatively from lesson to lesson, whereas an American History course may allow the teacher a bit more freedom to pick and choose which events and figures to study.If you need to get permission from school administrators in order to remove certain parts of curriculum due to time concerns, be sure to come prepared with reasons and examples, such as student homework assignments and/or test scores, to support your argument.
If you can provide concrete evidence that demonstrates students will be unable to complete the preset curriculum timeline successfully, you’ll be more likely to make a convincing case.
Supplement and Change
Depending on how much prep time you have, consider incorporating your own materials and ideas into the lessons to supplement curriculum deficiencies. This is also a great way to help students understand challenging materials. Below are some steps you can take to make sure students are properly comprehending material:
- If students are struggling to understand vocabulary, try using synonyms and expanded examples.
- Paraphrase more difficult textbook passages.
- Use student-led small groups to discuss new concepts and ideas.
- Incorporate games and other engaging activities to reinforce lesson material.
Expand the Curriculum
You may occasionally come across curriculum that is insufficient in length and scope. If this happens, try using the curriculum as a basis to find other related materials. For example, if a lesson is about a historical event or figure, find a related video online in order to supplement the information in the textbook. You can also create worksheets and other review materials to help students engage more deeply with the information.Another effective strategy is to give students individual and group projects that require additional research.
These types of assignments will encourage students to seek out and learn related content that may not be included in the classroom curriculum.
Assessing student performance by analyzing test results, homework, and classroom performance will provide you with a good starting point for employing the curriculum refinement techniques outlined in this lesson. One technique is to vary the pace of curriculum delivery, which can help you adjust to student needs. Removing unnecessary content will also enable you to tailor the material to meet your own needs and the needs of your learners.
In addition, by adapting and expanding materials, you’ll be able to refine your classroom curriculum in ways that will promote student learning. While you may not be able to choose the curriculum you use in the classroom, by employing the strategies in this lesson, you’ll be able to make the best of the curriculum you do have for the benefit of your learners.