There are many layers to my responsibilities as Head of Lower School, and I am often asked what my favorite part of the job is. The list of things that bring me joy is long, but there is one aspect of my work that has a unique way of stimulating my brain and cultivating my desire for continuous growth–curriculum development and design.

The beauty of working at an independent school such as Ravenscroft is that we are afforded the ability to research best practices in curriculum and instruction and align our findings to fulfill our mission of nurturing each individual’s potential. Although we do this on a continual basis, it has been a particular focus as we begin preparations for the 2013-2014 school year.

I approach curriculum development and design like a fun, challenging puzzle. One must begin by carefully selecting something that will match interest and skill level. It then requires patience, commitment, and the ability to zoom your focus in and out at different parts of the process in order to successfully create the initial vision.

As you read below how Lower School approaches our review of curriculum, you may begin to appreciate my metaphor of putting together a fun, challenging puzzle.

1) Reflection

As individuals and grade level teams, we take time to reflect on what we are currently teaching in the core subject areas of reading, writing, math, social studies, and science.

2) Review and Discussions

After documenting all that is currently being taught at each grade level, we collaborate in cross-grade levels teams to identify gaps, redundancies, and misalignments.

3) Research

Content specific teams are created to research current best practices, standardized test scores (CTPIV scores), national standards, and state essential standards to be knowledgeable and informed about the specific content area and help guide their grade level team when making decisions in the design process.

4) Development and Design

Based on the research findings and discussions about the current curriculum, each team develops a proposed outline for the main units of study that will be covered during the 2013-2014 school year.

5) Review and Discussions

The proposed units of study for all content areas are again reviewed with a horizontal lens (within grade levels) and vertical lens (across grade levels) to once again identify any remaining gaps, redundancies, or misalignments, and additional adjustments are made.

6) Development and Design

When the proposed units of study have been approved, each grade level team begins work on developing individual curriculum maps for each unit of study that will document the specific concepts students will learn, the skills students will be able to demonstrate, the process that will be used to teach the concepts and skills, the resources that will be used, and the essential questions that will be covered.

7) Implement

After the curriculum maps are completed, the fun can begin and teachers are ready to dive into the work of taking the learning “off the paper” and into their classrooms!

We are in the thick of this work right now, and I am thoroughly impressed with our faculty’s commitment to critically analyze what we teach and how we teach in order to improve at our craft and provide a curriculum that meets the needs of our current population.

As you reflect on your child’s experience so far in Lower School, please consider reflecting on the following questions and sharing your thoughts in the comment section:

  • What aspects of the Lower School curriculum are areas of strength and have met your child’s academic needs and interests?

  • What aspects of the Lower School curriculum are areas for growth and have not met your child’s academic needs and interests?

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