31: Core Beliefs Connecting Curricula to Student Diversity




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All students should consistently experience curricula rooted in the important ideas of a discipline that requires them to make meaning of information and think at high levels
  • All students develop products that apply knowledge of core ideas
  • Differentiate for enabling skills that help students understand core ideas and skills
Students need opportunities to learn the basics and opportunities to apply them in meaningful ways
  • Communicate connections between basic and complicated applications
  • Do not deny any students the opportunity to use their skills to play the game inherent in the discipline
There is a need for balance between student construction of meaning and teacher guides.
  • Play 3 roles as needed:
    1. Direct instructor – for teaching simple concepts
    2. Facilitator – for teaching deeper understandings of core concepts
    3. Coach – for teaching skills
  • Guide student reflections on how they are progressing towards enduring understandings
Students need to know the learning goals of a unit or lesson and criteria for successfully demonstrating proficiency with goals.
  • Share learning goals and rubrics early in lessons and early in projects
  • Students regularly reflect on how what they are doing relates to big goals
Research has shown that both high and low performing students benefit from classes that use meaning-driven, thought-based, application-focused curricula.  Applications of ideas give meaningful contexts for knowledge and skills.  Students must make meaning for themselves, it can not be imposed on them.  Having students construct meaning will enhance their ability to learn new content.  Students need a framework of goals and expectations to help them prioritize their ideas and goals.


Preparation Steps
  • Analyze standards – identify related key understandings, enabling skills, and misconceptions
  • Design and implement pre-assessments that assess student knowledge, skills, and misconceptions related to learning goals
  • Interpret pre-assesment data in order to develop remediation and advanced learning activities (if needed)
  • Design project contexts that create meaningful ways for students to apply core and foundational knowledge and skills
  • Develop project rubric prior to launch
  • Determine types of learning that will occur in workshops and the appropriate teacher roles that go with these learning targets.  Design lessons that match the learning goals and the teacher roles that makes the most sense.
Preliminary Implementation Steps
  • Share the rubric early in the project and facilitate an activity that has students develop knows, need-to-knows and next steps that tie to the rubric
  • Implement workshops acting as direct instructor, facilitator, and coach depending on the types of learning targets
  • Use formative assessments frequently to provide specific feedback that students use to improve their products and learning and that teachers use to improve scaffolding
  • Design activities and tools that make connections between foundational and core skills explicit and clear to students
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Develop and implement tools that students regularly reflect on how their completed tasks relate to their understanding of big learning goals
  • Engage with classroom dialogues that use student input to create and refine project rubrics

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