June 08, 2016

Blank Slate — Simple to Complex

A Great Curriculum Leads to "No Worries"

Recently I used my Moleskine to plan my summer workshop for some teachers.

The Moleskine I used is a storyboard notebook. I basically drafted out what I wanted to teach my staff, then I applied the sketches to a Powerpoint and created a short 10–slide presentation. My one big idea in the collection was simple: A ROBUST CURRICULUM WILL TAKE CARE OF ITSELF.

You know that I have always believed that if you create a top notch, first class  curriculum based on appropriate standards, you will never have to worry about standardized test scores and/or student performance. Well, that is if the teachers teaching the curriculum are using best practices in their classroom.

Best practices themselves can be tricky to define, but some simple ones: meet the students at the door and welcome them; have a warm up activity to catch their attention; provide them with quality instruction, prescribed time to learn along with the teacher, and an opportunity to practice what they've learned. That's some simple ideas in a nutshell.

The teachers have covered a great deal of ground, starting with a Lotus Diagram, quarterly planning, unit creation, and now we are discussing the elements that are essential to a quality lesson plan. We have talked a great deal about the work of Madeline Hunter, Understanding by Design, and Charlotte Danielson. We will conclude the professional work–time tomorrow, but most of the teachers are just getting started on some important work.

If we are able to build a quality curriculum (the backbone of education in our school) then the test scores will take care of themselves and the community will be proud of the work of the staff at the school. I appreciate their willingness to work so hard during the summer!

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