Written by Kelby Zenor, Faria Education Group
There are infinite ways to map your curriculum. Your unit template is a key aspect of initiating a curriculum design and development process by creating focus and articulating the most important aspects for your district. Whether you are beginning your work in Atlas or have been deep in the trenches of your curriculum work, your unit template is integral to your work.
In the beginning stages of parsing out your unit template, we encourage you to reflect on the following questions to inform the overall structure of your curriculum map:
- What is the purpose of your curriculum?
- Is your curriculum aligned to a specific pedagogy?
- Are there external mandates for your curriculum?
- What key initiatives do you want to capture, including QSAC indicators?
With New Jersey public schools, there are critical components that need to be captured in the curriculum. Many schools go about this process in a variety of ways, but all achieve the same desired outcome of documenting a curriculum that meets the needs of QSAC and their community.
Let’s break down some of the different ways schools have tackled the work.
Curriculum alignment with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS)
We see districts integrating the standards on their unit templates in a couple of ways:
- One category to capture all the learning standards associated within a unit.
- Breaking the learning standards into separate categories such as:
- Content Standards
- Technology Standards
- Career Readiness, Life Literacies and Key Skills
- Computer Science and Design Thinking
Is one way better than another? No.
When schools select to have just one general standards category that all the standards will be aligned to it keeps them in one place.
For schools that provide separate categories for the different NJSLS – content + the interdisciplinary ones that every content area needs to think about – it is a reminder to the curriculum writers to include those additional standards in their unit.
The question becomes more about process. Do you want a friendly reminder that each unit should include specific sets of standards? If so, then go with separate boxes. If you want all of the standards together in one section, go with one category.
Tiered supports for all students
Ensuring that all student needs are met and reflected in the curriculum is a critical piece to the QSAC requirements. Schools have opted to show their alignment in a few ways:
- Provide the space for teachers to capture their different modifications and strategies. This method allows for flexibility in what is shared.
- Create a comprehensive list of the modifications and strategies that teachers can use for their different student groups. This approach helps curriculum writers in remembering the different strategies they can employ with students.
Tewksbury Township School District provided a space for teachers to reflect on how they would integrate different accommodations for students and included a link to the district’s different strategies. (See the full unit here)
Fort Lee Public Schools took a different approach and provided numerous strategies for each student area of focus, allowing the writers to select which specific ones they are using in a particular unit. (See the full unit here)
Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology combined all the modifications into one category and provided teachers with strategies for the different groups of students. This way of capturing the modifications allows teachers to give more specific instruction on how they modify using a particular strategy. (See the full unit here)
South Orange Maplewood School District identified a section of their unit template to support modifications following the Universal Design for Learning pedagogy. Ann Bodnar shared, “We wanted to be as transparent as possible and ensure that we were meeting all the requirements for QSAC.” (See the full unit here)
New Jersey Curriculum Mandates
There are several specific mandates for curriculum within the state of New Jersey. Schools and districts demonstrate these through the curriculum. Some schools have opted to include them on the template for unit development to help bring these key pieces to the forefront and allow writers to reflect on whether their unit is tied back to one of the critical components.
East Hanover Township School District has a category just for these mandates. Matthew Tuorto shared that they built their template to “match the state mandates and requirements.” (See the full unit here)
Where do you go from here?
If you are interested to see what Atlas can do for you, sign up for a demo and we can walk you through the system and more examples.
If you are using Atlas, and liked one of these ideas, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a time to talk about how to update your template!
If you want more on how Atlas supports the QSAC process, download our ebook that is full of information!
Kelby Zenor is the Vice President of Professional Development at Faria Education Group. She guides the coordination, development, and facilitation of the different professional development programs across FEG. Kelby has been involved in education for more than 20 years from early years to adult education in a variety of roles. One of her great passions is bringing diverse groups together to facilitate deep conversations around meaningful curriculum reform. Kelby received her degree from the St. Mary’s College in California.
Connect with Kelby on Twitter! @kzenor