If you’ve ever sat on a curriculum writing team, you know that this task isn’t for the faint of heart. There are a lot of moving parts to quality curriculum design. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what to include and what to leave out. So how do you write a curriculum that makes sense for your students and subject? And how can you use that to help integrate the arts across content areas?

Our team at EducationCloset actually went through this exact process in designing our IntegratED Curriculum. Our team worked on 109 lessons, resources and assessments for our K-5 version alone. And our curriculum writers for MS and HS are also going through these exact same steps.

What we’ve learned along the way is that curriculum design has a structure to it that can be replicated and leveraged by anyone. So whether you are looking to revamp your curriculum or write one from scratch, you can use this process. Here’s the basics of what we did – we’ll go into these in more detail below:

6 steps to building a curriculum
  1. Step 1: Crack open the standards. …
  2. Step 2: Create a scope and sequence for your units. …
  3. Step 3: Develop the final assessment for each unit. …
  4. Step 4: Develop lessons or activities. …
  5. Step 5: Differentiate. …
  6. Step 6: Do a mental walk through.

Curriculum Design Part 1: The High-Level Planning

Why learn how to write a curriculum?

If you need to teach a group how to perform a series of tasks or help them understand a set of concepts, an organized and coherent curriculum can help you teach the material well so they can easily learn. You might want to write a curriculum if you are leading a youth club, for example, or professional development for your colleagues. Some professionals also write curriculum by trade, such as educators and curriculum developers. Knowing how to write a curriculum can keep your teaching clear and meaningful.

How to write a curriculum

One of the most important things to remember when planning a curriculum is that learning is often recursive. This means that learners usually return to ideas they already know as they make progress toward new concepts and ideas. For example, if you were teaching an intern group about your companys software, you might remind them of technology they are already familiar with before moving on to new concepts. A good curriculum is also usually organized so both the instructor and learners know what to expect and how to be successful.

Here are some steps you can follow when writing a curriculum:

1. Identify your content

When you first start planning, be sure that you clearly understand the content, material or ultimate objective of your curriculum. It can be easier to plan with the overall intention of your curriculum in mind than it is to make broad changes at the end of the process. Explore whether you are required to follow a certain template or if you can design your own organizational strategies. Ask clarifying questions of your supervisor or colleagues if it would be helpful.

2. Consider your learners

Sometimes you will know information about your learners ahead of time, including their age, demographic and industry if you are teaching professional development. Keeping your learners identities in mind when planning a curriculum is one way to help support the best learning outcomes possible. Thinking of your students needs when planning a curriculum can also help you organize your ideas and select materials and activities that will be interesting to them.

3. Brainstorm learning outcomes

Based on the content you want to teach and the learners you are preparing for, generate a set of specific learning outcomes you hope they can reach as a result of your curriculum. Try keeping your learning outcomes specific, observable and connected to your lessons. For example, if youre teaching a lesson on professional writing in the workplace, one of your learning outcomes might be, “Students will explore appropriate workplace email language by comparing and contrasting examples of professional memos with a Venn diagram.”

4. Gather materials and activities

Based on your learning outcomes, generate ideas for materials and activities that can help students meet those goals. Think carefully about your timeline and organize your materials into meaningful sections or units. Organizing your material can keep the curriculum coherent and also help students connect ideas. You can review existing curricula and choose lessons or activities that you want to keep. You can also reach out to other teachers or instructors for ideas. Many teachers and colleagues are willing to share teaching materials that you can use or modify for your own purposes.

5. Plan assessment and reflection

Incorporating time for assessment in your curriculum can be a valuable way to help students build on their prior knowledge and identify places where they need to re-teach or review. Assessment can be formative and casual, such as a quick activity where students show you a certain hand sign if they understand and a different sign if they do not. Assessment can also be more formal and summative, such as the test at the end of a curriculum module that determines whether students receive a particular certificate.

Self-reflection can help students identify their own learning and show their understanding to their instructor. Consider using a reflective discussion or writing activity to help students express their own learning.

6. Revise

Consider taking careful notes when delivering your curriculum. Pay attention to what went well, what could go better and what you can do to help students reach learning outcomes more effectively. If you are not delivering the curriculum you prepared, you might ask the instructor to take notes on what went well and what could be improved. You may also want to provide the instructor with specific questions about your curriculum so you can make meaningful revisions. For example, you might ask whether or not students responded well to a specific activity or if they engaged with a particular example.

7. Collaborate

At any point in the curriculum development process, it can be helpful to collaborate with other professionals. If you are an educator, other teachers can be a resource for brainstorming ideas and providing feedback. If you are developing a curriculum for work, other professionals can offer their feedback as well. Consider teamwork to manage the workload of curriculum design and generate innovative teaching ideas.

You can ask your team members for help at any point during your curriculum creation process. For example, you may want to ask them about the kind of content you should cover. You can also ask them to review your curriculum when youre finished.

FAQ

What is an example of a curriculum?

An individual teacher’s curriculum, for example, would be the specific learning standards, lessons, assignments, and materials used to organize and teach a particular course.

How do you write a curriculum and give an example?

In this article, we discuss the reasons why you might write a curriculum and provide a set of steps you can follow to write your own.

How to write a curriculum
  1. Identify your content. …
  2. Consider your learners. …
  3. Brainstorm learning outcomes. …
  4. Gather materials and activities. …
  5. Plan assessment and reflection. …
  6. Revise.

How do you structure a curriculum?

How to design your curriculum
  1. Step 1: Principles and purpose – Set out the intent of your curriculum. …
  2. Step 2: Entitlement and enrichment – Develop your pupil entitlement. …
  3. Step 3: Breadth and balance – Curate the content of your curriculum. …
  4. Step 4: Teaching narrative – Plan the delivery of your curriculum.

What are the 3 elements of curriculum?

Regardless of definition or approach, curriculum can be organized into three major components: objectives, content or subject matter, and learning experiences.

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