Curriculum: What does that word mean?

Recently I read an article by Kim  Marshall in Education Week ( September 2004) Let’s Clarify the Way We Use The Word : ‘Curriculum’ Seven Different Meaning, Seven Possible Names

I concur and it is often this is the first problem when we are starting a conversation about curriculum. Which definition is our audience using in their understanding.

  • Common Core Curriculum: National Curriculum
  •              Where does the Dana Center’s interpretation and ‘mapping’ fit in?
  • District Curriculum: East Greenwich
  •               Is there a match between the Common Core, if not why?
  • Grade Level Curriculum: 
  •              To me this is the Common Core Curriculum + East Greenwich Curriculum=grade level curriculum. In EG we have to be careful to know what needs to be solid and what is enrichment or just exposure as sometimes teachers feel child is special education if they are not reaching the enrichment part of the curriculum. They just are not meeting the enrichment goals.
  • Classroom Methods:
  •         To me the difficulty is how does this connect with the previous three
  • Commercial Programs
  •      I was part of the Math Writing Curriculum this year and the difficulty was that teachers wanted a program. They wanted to have all materials, tests and lessons all done. The problem then is how carefully is the commercial program aligned with the common core, district curriculum and grade level expectations
  • Teaching Units:
  •       Sometimes the  curriculum changes but teachers still want to do the units that they have done for years because it was something that they liked doing whether it fits in the curriculum or not. We should allow some of the special units but look at them more critically to determine how it can fit with the curriculum ( ie Wax Museum can be done as part of a research project)
  • Classroom Materials
  •      This was what one of the Crucial Conversations that I had. A teacher wanted to continue to use and grade materials that no longer fit with the curriculum or what was taught. Teachers in isolation may do that but if we really work in PLC’s this shouldn’t be happening as we as a group have studied the curriculum and chosen the materials.

As a language therapist, I understand the difficulties imposed by a misunderstanding of vocabulary. It will be important when working with the curriculum that the first task is establishing the working definition between members.

As many of you know we have been without a special education director for the year. The person was also our curriculum director so with all the changes to Common Core is being done without a leader. I am very interested in learning more about curriculum. Previously I have been on the ELA curriculum committee two times and the Math curriculum committee last year. I feel strongly that there needs to be a special educator/specialists on these committees to insure that the needs of our children are understood.
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2 comments on “Curriculum: What does that word mean?
  1. You are so right! The same problems prevail in each district. I think special educators are used to thinking out of the box and being flexible. Yet regular educators, feel safe doing what they have always done. ( sometimes, because they feel it worked for “most kids”. ). I often invite myself to general education meetings and curriculum planning so that I can share my point of view and I believe it makes a difference and helps others to think globally.

    • Thanks for you comment. I have been on old ELA and math curriculum committee and I am trying to get on the ELA common core curriculum writing team. Even when you think of the adoption of curriculum materials there are some that are more conducive to students who may learn differently.

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