Rigorous Curriculum Design  

November 03, 2014
On August 4th, over 150 area teachers from 23 ESU 10 school districts, along with administrators, instructional coaches, and ESU 10 staff, attended the Regional Consortium for Curriculum Develop­ment teacher training. This event was held at the Kearney Ramada Inn. Lauryn Wild and Pamela Richards, Professional Development Associates with the Leadership and Learning Center, provided participants with an extensive training on Rigorous Curriculum Design. Through this training, participants were also given the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of the recently revised Nebraska College and Career Ready Language Arts Standards.

The first step of the Rigorous Curriculum Design process is to prioritize the standards. This involves a careful analysis of the standards as teachers work collaboratively in grade level teams to determine which standards meet the criteria of endurance, leverage, and readiness. In this context, “endurance” refers to whether or not a given standard is something that will have value beyond the walls of the classroom -  whether or not a given standard will endure throughout a student’s academic career and professional life. The criteria of “leverage” causes teachers to consider whether or not a given standard has value across multiple subject areas and in multiple contexts. “Readiness” is a con­sideration of whether or not a given standard is necessary for a student to be ready for the next level of learning. For example, a student needs to master addition before he or she is ready to learn multiplication. Through the prioritization process, participants also had conversations with teachers across the grade levels in order to develop a cohesive scope and sequence. As a result, participating teachers were able to leave the training with a high level of understand­ing of the standards and how they relate to one another within and across grade levels.

After the prioritization process, participating teachers worked in grade level teams to organize the standards into units of study and prepare a pacing guide. They also learned how to “unwrap” standards, which is a process that leads teachers through a close analysis of the knowledge required in the standard and the level of rigor of the skills contained in the standard. The teachers used the unwrapped standards to identify key vocabulary and write Essential Questions and Big Ideas. “Essential Questions” a rewritten to stimulate student interest in the topic at hand, pique their curiosity, and point them toward the “Big Ideas.” Big Ideas state the answer to the Essential Question- what the teacher wants the students to understand at the culmination of the unit - in student-friendly language.

-by Emily Jameson, Teaching and Learning Coordinator