Managing curriculum effectively and efficiently is a complex undertaking for any organization. The chances are your school or district has already been through many iterations of curriculum management tools and strategies, anywhere from archaic binders on the shelf, to old-school curriculum warehouse software, to managing hundreds if not thousands of curriculum documents in Google Drive.
Though some leaders weigh if the “juice is worth the squeeze”, a solid curriculum management tool will alleviate headaches for administrators and teachers alike. In the online world we live in, here are six key things to think about when deciding how to best manage the curriculum for your organization.
A central repository for curriculum documents is the most crucial aspect of any successful curriculum management endeavor. This ensures that teachers and leaders alike have access to all of the most recent versions of curriculum documents that should be guiding teaching and learning for your organization.
For a new teacher coming on board, what a relief it is to have one spot where you know you’ll be able to find the latest version of your scope and sequence or unit plans! This central repository becomes your “source of truth”.
At one point or another, most organizations will try to use Google Drive or Microsoft Sharepoint as their central hub. What begins with the best intentions and processes in mind can quickly become unruly and hard to manage.
When you have tens if not hundreds of teachers adding documents, making copies to add their perspective, or neglecting to archive older versions of resources, things get messy and teams will very quickly move away from that repository as it becomes less and less meaningful. When this happens, it’s easy to get away from the original intent of the curriculum.
We’ve already determined that it’s of the utmost importance to have access to important curriculum resources. With accessibility should also come visibility, which is pivotal in many ways.
Not only is it important for a teacher to know what’s happening in their classroom, but it’s just as crucial for them to know what’s going on in other classrooms across the organization. There’s a reason we talk about vertical and horizontal alignment - it’s because it’s paramount to know and understand the knowledge and skills that students are coming to you with.
Likewise, the ability to make connections to what they are learning in other classrooms and prepare them for what’s to come in future courses or grade levels is invaluable. Utilizing a curriculum management platform that allows for full visibility across grade levels and subject areas better informs teachers of how they can build upon those understandings, knowledge, and skills for the smoothest transitions.
Developing or using a consistent template and/or framework for curriculum design is another important aspect of streamlining curriculum management. Not only does this help to paint the picture of an organization’s philosophy about what curriculum should look like and what it means to you as an educational institution, but it also provides better resources, professional learning opportunities, and best practices for teachers to lean on.
By using a time-tested framework like Understanding by DesignⓇ (UbD), schools and districts begin to work towards common objectives. An organizational shift occurs - from teaching to your state standards, the knowledge and skills students should be able to demonstrate, to teaching for understanding and transfer. This moves students beyond memorization of facts and into engaging in deeper learning and applying the understanding to new situations.
While many curriculum management tools offer customizable templates and consistency for an organization, Eduplanet21 has designed a curriculum management platform that supports and guides the Understanding by Design framework.
By utilizing the Understanding by Design 2.0 template and engaging in Eduplanet21’s Understanding by Design Institute, teachers can quickly receive the professional development they need to build a foundational understanding of UbD, and leaders can be sure the curriculum documents created will all be in the same format.
In a perfect world, two Grade 4 Math teachers at the same school would be teaching the same units of study over a similar timeframe with the same goals in mind. However, their approach to teaching and assessing may be a little different based on the needs of the students in their classroom and their unique style.
An online platform gives you the ability to work together to create key documents and determine the standards and goals for each course, unit, and lesson. It also gives the freedom and flexibility for teachers to design their lesson plans and assessments that best suit their students and style of teaching.
The ability for teachers and leaders to comment on curriculum documents, leave reflections after teaching, and continuously improve unit and lesson plans allows for both teacher and student growth. With a cloud-based platform, collaboration can happen in the same room or in different locations - anywhere and anytime.
The power of a curriculum management platform becomes clear when we talk about the strength and quality of planning and design, made possible through analysis tools. The ability to visualize alignment to goals and objectives and the ability to analyze for gaps and redundancies are two things you will rarely be able to achieve with Google Drive or Sharepoint.
It’s one thing to determine the standards and goals you plan to teach in a course, lesson, or unit. It’s another thing entirely to show the intentional alignment to those standards and goals - how you are teaching them and assessing students for understanding. The ability to see that alignment and identify where you may have gaps or redundancies in your curriculum allows you to more easily identify the strengths and weaknesses in your design and planning.
Analysis features can differ from platform to platform, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for. It’s easy to get “paralysis by analysis", so try not to spend too much time and energy on the extensive reports you’ll be able to run. Instead, focus more heavily on the quality of those reports and how the information informs curriculum design and instruction.
We know that parents and communities are interested in viewing the curriculum of their school or district. We have heard this request most often for Social-Emotional Learning, Social Studies, and Health Education curriculum. Providing your stakeholders an avenue to see what students are learning in any subject or course can alleviate many of the concerns organizations encounter.
By using your curriculum management platform to generate a visible repository like Eduplanet21’s Curriculum Blueprint, schools can easily publish completed, board-approved curriculum to their website and offer communities the level of transparency they are seeking.
Is the juice worth the squeeze to invest in a curriculum management platform? Absolutely! Your curriculum is important – and you must put systems and processes in place to manage it accordingly.
With Eduplanet21’s comprehensive curriculum management platform, you can start at the highest level - the educational disciplines - and plan courses, units and lessons. To learn more about our platform and how we can help your school or district, click the button below.