Developing a new curriculum gives you a chance to set the tone and pace for a class, but you're also the one responsible for ensuring that students are meeting the goals you set for them. To effectively plan a class curriculum, you'll need to account for the standards or goals for the class, use good judgment when grouping the units of information and allow for fluid change in your plan.
Research the Standards
In many cases, the requirements for your class will be developed for you. Most educators don't have the luxury of teaching whatever they want whenever they decide. Instead, you will be required to meet certain curriculum standards through your curriculum. While the delivery method may be open to interpretation, hitting the standards is the way to make sure your students meet their academic goals. Determine the state or national standards for your course and use those to guide the content you present. If you're developing a curriculum for a company or organization, find our what its goals are before you begin planning to ensure that your plans are on target.
Group By Topic
The simplest way to address standards is by grouping them according to topic. It will make more sense to your students if you teach topics in a logical way rather than randomly. Before you begin planning a calendar, place similar ideas into units. Include ways to assess learning, such as quizzes, tests or discussion time, and allow for review so students get a chance to learn, ask questions and relearn what they are expected to know.
Consider the Timeline
Once you have a set of standards broken into topical units, pull out the calendar. Whether you have a few weeks, months or an entire year, you'll need to be mindful of the amount of time you spend on each topic to keep your class moving ahead on time. Pay attention to natural breaks, such as holidays or special events, and plan your curriculum so you assess your students right before those breaks. This can help minimize the loss of knowledge while your students are away from class.
Leave Room for Change
You need a plan, but your plan cannot be inflexible. Change happens naturally in a class. Your schedule will be affected by special events, illness, weather or even celebrations. Don't plan so much in a single session that you are unable to finish and repeatedly fall behind. By the same token, keep a list of "if I have extra time" activities, so your students have something to do if they finish early. Your curriculum needs to be fluid, able to speed up and slow down to meet the needs of your students while ultimately getting them all to the end goal on time.
With hands-on experience in the traditional classroom, the online setting, and the world of curriculum development, Jessica Smith is a veteran educator who is passionate about learning. Smith earned a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University and is certified in mathematics and exceptional student education.