Use Model Curriculum as a Tool to Improve District Curriculum

What is a Model Curriculum?

  • Multiple units of instruction – and each unit of instruction suggests a guiding question, a unit overview, the estimated number of instructional days necessary to complete the unit, and student learning objectives. The student learning objectives (SLOs) elucidate what students need to know and be able to do within the unit.
  • Formative assessments included in the model curriculum help clarify the level of rigor expected from the standards and provide a set of assessment tools that are often difficult for districts and schools to create on their own.
  • Unit assessments included in the model curriculum provide clarity about the level students need to reach to achieve proficiency.

The availability of model curriculum was the stimulus for using model curriculum and Rubicon Atlas to create courses based upon the sequence and duration of the instructional units in a model curriculum; and then use the Comparative Unit Calendar Report to compare the instructional units, unit sequence and unit scope (recommended number of instructional days) of the model curriculum versus your current course of study for the same grade level and discipline. The elements of a model curriculum that are necessary to begin the Comparative Unit Calendar Report include only the listing of the units of instruction and the estimated number of instructional days necessary to complete the unit. Atlas makes the process quick and easy to complete.

The most important reason to conduct this activity is that the Comparative Unit Calendar Report can help to initiate important conversations around the most fundamental questions teachers ask themselves:

  • What should I teach?
  • In what sequence do I teach these concepts?
  • For how long should I teach these concepts?
Step 1: Create a course for each model curriculum.
Step 2: Populate each new course with the units listed and suggested length of each unit in the model course.
Step 3: Select the Comparative Unit Calendar Report under the Scope and Sequence section of the Reports drop-down menu.
Step 4: When you have returned to Comparative Unit Calendar Reports under the Reports tab, click Submit to create the report.
  1. What topics do we teach during our available instructional time? What topics do model curriculum  documents suggest that we teach during our available instructional time?
  2. Do you have your key academic dates listed on your Academic Calendar so that your true instructional time is represented?
  3. As compared to the model curriculum, do we spend to much or too little time on certain topics?
  4. What topics does the model curriculum include that our district curriculum excludes? Are the topics taught at other grade levels?
  5. What topics does the model curriculum exclude that our district curriculum includes? Are these topics genuinely locally important or simply remnants of past priorities or activity-based traditions?
  6. Do we present our units in a logical sequence? Use Model Curriculum, (i.e.NJDOE Model Curriculum, etc.), Progressions (i.e. Council of the Great City Schools Math Progressions, Illustrative Math Progressions, etc.) and/or Matrices (i.e. Matrices of Learning Progressions- Science NJDOE etc.) as comparisons to your district curriculum.

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