Content Knowledge & Curriculum Organization for Customized Learning

The first of the three domains of our Customized Learning curriculum model isn't very sexy, nor interesting, and is what most folks already think of when you say “curriculum”: Content Knowledge. (But there is some interesting stuff a little further down this post!)

Like most states, Maine's education standards are determined by law (we call ours the Maine Learning Results). These standards, as recently updated, identify the knowledge and skills, as the DOE likes to say,essential for college, career, and citizenship in the 21st century.” As you'd expect, Maine has specific sets of standards for each of eight subject areas:

  • Career and Education Development
  • English Language Arts
  • Health Education and Physical Education
  • Mathematics
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Studies
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • World Languages

Maine has incorporated the Common Core State Standards for math and English language arts into the Learning Results, and Maine is one of 26 states participating in the development of Next Generation Science Standards.

So, where curriculum gets interesting is in how we organize it to support Customized Learning.

The curriculum from these standards needs to be articulated and organized in a way to facilitate proficiency-based learning. What are the measurement topics within each subject area? What are the learning targets and learning progressions within each measurement topic? What are the scoring guides for each learning target that allow a student to assess their progress and teachers to provide formative feedback?

Educators from districts in the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning have collaborated to organize the curriculum into Marzano's curriculum framework. The framework breaks each content area into a group of Measurement Topics. Each Measurement Topic has a scope, that is a progression of learning targets, and represents the learning required for mastery of that topic. Each level in the scope has a scoring guide, called a scale, that clearly identifies the proficiency target for that level.

In the process of revising how the content knowledge standards are organized and written, some changes have been made. In some cases, what has long been thought of as Content Knowledge, such as scientific reasoning and the experimental process, was moved over to the Complex Reasoning domain because of the nature of the knowledge or skill.

We have also pulled all assessment language from the standards (e.g. ”write a report to demonstrate…”) and left just the pieces that were the actual content knowledge in the standard. Part of Customized Learning is the premise that students should be able to demonstrate mastery in what ever way they choose and deem best (multiple pathways to learning and mastery).

Currently all 8 content areas exist in this framework and are being piloted in classrooms across Maine. Feedback from the pilot classrooms will allow the curriculum teams to revise and update the Content Knowledge curriculum framework. These frameworks will be reviewed and revised annually by the educators who are actually using them.

And all of curriculum frameworks are stored in a learning progress monitoring/management system (Educate) that make it infinitely easier for both students and teachers to know where students are in their learning, what they need to learn next, and to identify a diversity of resources and activities to learn it.

 

About Mike Muir

I'm an educator interested in collaborating with other educators on engaging all learners, proficiency-based learning, technology's role in learning, and leadership for school change.
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