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EDU 6524 Curriculum Design – Meta Reflection – Standard 9

on August 7, 2015

EDU 6524 Curriculum Design – Meta Reflection – Standard 9

Standard 9: Teacher leaders evaluate and use effective curriculum design.

“A teacher who looks at students as individuals – no matter what their cultural experiences are – will attend to their varied points of readiness, their interests, their exceptionalities, their status among peers, and so on when planning curriculum and instruction” (Dack & Tomlinson, 2015, p.13)

At the beginning of this course, I was aware of the importance of considering the learner in every aspect of instructional and curriculum planning, but the processes to do this can often be challenging, time consuming, and overwhelming. The above quote reminds me of the importance of remembering who my students are: as learners, as problem solvers, as thinkers, and as people. When I worked through this course, and designed an entire unit of study from beginning to end, I was continually reminded of the importance of considering my learner and deliberately assessing their understanding throughout the instructional process. Designing curriculum with this in mind from the very beginning creates instructional units that are cohesive, student-centered, and full of a variety of instructional strategies that will address all learners in the classroom.

This course hit the ground running by creating a unit map that developed the Unit Learning Target, as well as identified the important concepts of the unit, and the types of skills a student will have after the unit is complete. Then it asked for ways to engage students, how to pre-assess, formatively assess, and summatively assess students’ understanding. The first main change to my thinking regarding curriculum design was the concept of a Unit Learning Target. I have always written Learning Targets for each individual lesson, and always considered those to combine to create the Learning Targets for the unit. Having to really think and delve into the essential understanding required for the unit as a whole changed my way of thinking about creating an instructional sequence. By creating the Unit Learning Target first, I was challenged to keep that at the forefront of my mind when doing all additional planning, which developed a very cohesive and challenging unit all centered on mastering that target.

After defining the unit focus and creating a curriculum map, the course transitioned to a focus on the standards, vocabulary, how to teach the learning target to students, and how to pre-assess students’ prior understanding. A major change for my thinking that came about from this section of the course is the idea of teaching the learning target for the unit to students and assessing that they understand it. I have always taught the lesson learning targets to my students, and evaluated their understanding in an informal way – generally a quick “thumbs up/to the side/down” approach, but considering how to teach the overall learning target and assess that students understand what they are going to be asked to do is new for me. I foresee myself using this regularly; the idea that students truly understand the overall goal of a unit brings about so much more student buy-in during the daily instructional activities (as long as they relate to the understood goal).

Considering how to differentiate the lesson for each student is always a challenge, but by considering the common misconceptions, as well as ways to differentiate, before beginning to teach the unit allows for more intentional assessment and instruction. Although this will likely remain a challenging task, I feel more prepared to differentiate for all learners after considering this before each individual lesson as I used to do. Again, considering the unit as a whole rather than as each individual lesson, it is easier to think about the ways to successfully differentiate. I will be continuing to do this with all courses that I teach, before I start a new unit.

One of the best aspects of this course was the ability to tie so many of our previous and current course work with the work being done here. For instance, considering at what points technology could be used during our lessons, and how to best use it was a great connection to our EDTC 6433 – Teaching with Technology course that we started the program with during our first fall quarter. I was able to consider how I can use technology for instruction, as well as assessment and enrichment. Additionally, the EDU 6525 – Culturally Responsive Teaching course that we took during the first winter quarter provided a lot of insight when considering how to connect the unit with the learner, and how to potentially tie into students’ families and the local and/or global community. Lastly, EDU 6613 – Standards Based Assessment which I took at the same time as this course really provided me with a lot of excellent resources when considering formative assessment and how to best understand what my students know and how they know it, beyond just a quiz or a test.

Working through the course to create a unit plan that is driven by an overarching learning target and a focus on assessing where students are at every point along the way provides a truly rigorous curriculum.

As Ainsworth (2010) states:

A rigorous curriculum is an inclusive set of intentionally aligned components – clear learning outcomes with matching    assessments, engaging learning experiences, and instructional strategies – organized into sequences units of study that serve as both the detailed road map and the high-quality delivery system for ensuring that all students achieve the desired end: the attainment of their designated grade – or course-specific standards within a particular content area. (p. 8)

When students are provided with a rigorous curriculum that uses appropriate instructional strategies, formative assessment and keeps the students at the center of the planning, students will not be able to help but learn the material. In the future, as I continue my path as a teacher leader, I will make a point to not only continue to plan my curriculum in this way, but to help others in my department and building shift their planning as well.


Ainsworth, L. (201). Rigorous Curriculum Design. Englewood, CO: Lead + Learn Press.

Cherkas, B. M. (1992). A Personal Essay in Math? Getting to Know Your Students.

            College Teaching, 40(3), 83-86.

Dack, H. & Tomlinson, C. A. (2015). Inviting All Students to Learn. Educational

            Leadership, 11 – 15.

Frederick, K. (2013). Fostering Digital Citizenship. School Library Monthly, 29(4), 20-21.

Handler, B. (201). Teacher as Curriculum Leader: A Consideration of the Appropriateness of that Role Assignment to

Classroom-Based Practitioners. International Journal of Teacher Leadership, 3 (3), 32 – 42.

Manners Matter Infographic.” Manners Matter Infographic. (2014). Retrieved July 31, 2015, from


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