The Learning Legend…

February 14, 2008 at 1:58 am Leave a comment

Teachers need to learn how to read, implement, use and talk about THE mapadvenCURRICULUM. This is the legend….. It is the starting point for teachers, parents, students and anyone else who’s interested….

Like a good map, the curriculum needs a legend. Each state has its own legend. Teachers are expected to be able to use curriculum. Unfortunately few teacher preparation courses prepare the teacher for this. Teachers can be given a school or district or state curriculum and are then directed to their classroom to teach! This post will hopefully help those not familiar with curriculum to be able to identify the framework of a curriculum.

The framework of curriculum is how the components of a curriculum fit together. The framework is pretty much the same in all states. The difference is in the terminology. The words used are the same: Goals, Objectives, Standards and Benchmarks. The confusion arises when the same word is used for a different level of the curriculum.

Using a curriculum requires the user, first, to be aware of an individual’s state framework hierarchy. This is where the greatest confusion arises. Some states use standard as the highest level while other states use goals. Whatever the term used, the curriculum begins at one stage, goal. Each goal is then divided into standards. Each of these standards are further divided into benchmarks which can then be applied to grade levels. This is the basic framework of a curriculum.

Scope and sequence are terms that are applied to the content and chronology of the curriculum. Scope refers to the content included while sequence refers to the order that the content is presented. State, District and School curriculum will follow the same framework (design). However, the district will need to adapt the state curriculum to meet the needs of its students just as the school within a district may have to adapt its curriculum to fulfill the needs of its students. (This is one of the great controversy in education.Just how much control should the district and school and classroom teacher be allowed to adapt and alter the state curriculum? Under NCLB teaching to the needs of local pupils creates problems with state testing and meeting the required levels.)

The state curriculum also spells out the subject areas and grade levels.The district and/or school will then adapt these to their particular needs. A primary school will only use the parts of a curriculum that apply to them. The district, of course, will need to carefully oversee the articulation and coordination between primary and intermediate schools. Teachers are involved in the articulation and coordination when they are are asked to participate in the curriculum committee. (A future post perhaps!)

To help the teacher understand the curriculum framework, the Illinois Standards are composed of 30 goals spread over 7 subject areas. Each goal is divided into “so many” standards. Each standard has a series of benchmarks for each grade level. There are five grade levels: Early Elementary, Late Elementary, Middle/Junior High School, Early High School, Late High School. Using the subject area of Science, there are three goals (11-12-13 of the 30 overall goals). Goal 11 has two standards (A-B). There are 6 benchmarks for Early Elementary and 5 benchmarks for Late Elementary. The benchmarks are identified by a number (grade level) and a lower case letter.

This is State Goal 11 and the first standard followed by the first benchmark (a) of the Early Elementary grade level (1).

STATE GOAL 11: Understand the processes of scientific inquiry and technological design to investigate questions, conduct experiments and solve problems.

A. Know and apply the concepts, principles and processes of scien­tific inquiry.

11.A.1a Describe an observed event.

As a teacher, you develop lessons that would lead a pupil to be able to describe an observed event. This is a location (landmark) that each pupil adds to his/her map of learning. The teacher is the guide through the wilderness of “learning landmarks.” The curriculum acts as the teacher’s template. Each child must fill in his own map as the journey of learning unfolds grade after grade. Teachers or parents cannot learn for a child, they can only guide them and hope that the child learns.

In Illinois there are:

  • 7 subject areas: English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Physical Development & Health, Fine Arts, and Foreign Language.
  • 5 grade levels: Early Elementary, Late Elementary, Middle/Junior High School, Early High School, Late High School
  • 30 state goals
  • 3 Science Goals: Goal 11 – Inquiry and Design, Goal 12 – Concepts and Principles, Goal 13 – Science, Technology and Society
  • 2 standards for goal #11, Goal 12…5 standards, Goal 13…2 standards
  • 11 benchmarks for goal # 11 in the Early Elementary Level. 13 benchmarks for Goal 12, 8 benchmarks for Goal 13.

    The Illinois standards can be located at Illinois Standards

vespucciAs a teacher or parent, allow the pupil or child to discover the wilderness and create their own map. The map can be plain or decorated. It can be flat or three dimensional, colorful or drab, big or small, pencil or pen.. Just as long as the pupil or child can owe the map and say that it is his or hers. Knowledge, esteem and wisdom belong to the map makers.


Entry filed under: Curriculum.

Beginning the Map..The Three Dimensions Curriculum: From Instrument to Instruction

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