Now that the school year is coming to a close, I’m starting to reflect on the year as a whole, what I will keep the same and what I’ll change. This year was a big step forward for me in terms of curriculum development. I created a standards-based curriculum in which I analyzed the learning anchors and devised units that would allow students to learn them one or two at a time. As I look back on how the curriculum played out this school year, I find myself asking the question, “What would Bloom say about my curriculum?” (“What Would Bloom Do?” bracelets patent-pending.)
First off, Benjamin Bloom was the head of a team that created Bloom’s Taxonomy, a hierarchical breakdown of learning objectives based on the level of thought required. Lower level objectives include understanding and comprehension; at the other end of the spectrum are the high level skills, such as synthesis and evaluation. Posts upon posts could be written about the various nuances of and debates surrounding the Taxonomy (just Google “Bloom’s Taxonomy books”), but for the sake of this conversation, that’s all you need to know.
As I mentioned above, this past year’s curriculum was based on my analysis of the learning anchors, breaking them down into manageable chunks for students to digest. While Bloom might pat me on the back for breaking the anchors down in this way, he might also suggest that I move on to something higher in the hierarchy. By analyzing, I – and the students – developed a good understanding of the standards and anchors, but the big thing I want to change moving forward is the feeling of disconnection between the standards. In order to increase the fluidity of the curriculum from one unit to the next, I want to move from a curriculum based on analyzing the standards to synthesizing the standards. Instead of having stand-alone units for each anchor, I’m going to revise the curriculum in a way that integrates the anchors and allows students to utilize many skills at the same time.
At this point, you might be saying, “That sounds great, but what will this actually look like?”
My big goal for this school year is to restructure the curriculum to make it more project-based and student-centered. This year, I stood at the front of the room a lot, with a pretty equal distribution of “I Do” to “We Do” to “You Do.” Moving forward, I want students to have a chance to invest in their learning by giving them more independence; there will still be times in which I stand up in front of the class to introduce a new idea or skill, but I want to move into a primary role of learning facilitator. As I become a more experienced and skilled teacher, I think I’m ready to give up that level of control required to promote independent learning.
This focus on project-based, student-centered learning will allow students to synthesize the various ELA skills they learn in my class, allowing them to use them in combination much more organically than learning and practicing each skill separately. For example, a project in which students consider changes they want to see in their city, research those topics, and then write argumentative letters to the mayor or a city councilman requires them to use and thoroughly grasp a wide range of important ELA skills.
Now that I have had the time to analyze the standards, I feel ready to create a richer learning experience in which these standards overlap and interact in student learning, allowing students to utilize them naturally in a project-based, student-centered curriculum. As I get more into the nitty gritty of what this revised curriculum will entail, I’ll write new posts with updates. Stay tuned!