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The Spiral of Curriculum Design
Transcript of The Spiral of Curriculum Design
"Curriculum developers use the term Scope and Sequence to refer to the breadth and organization of the subject matter throughout the full educational program. Ideally, the content of the Scope and Sequence is aligned with the institution's formal, organizing principles...It is important to remember that while teachers usually think discretely about the specific course, year, or unit of study in which they are involved, the students are the ones experiencing the program's Scope and Sequence from the moment they enter the institution through their graduation or departure...The educator serves as the advocate for the learner, making sure that the curriculum builds coherently , one segment upon another." (Moskowitz, 1998, pp. 191-192)
"An effective educational program ties practice to the institution's goals; this creates curricular coherence" (Moskowitz, 1998, p. 190). It is important to keep these words of wisdom in mind when designing curriculum. It is possible to develop a wonderful set of activities but they would not have value if they undermined the broader educational goals and mission. One way to promote alignment is to keep in mind the enduring understandings. You can also ask yourself the broader question, "How does the program conceptualize its role in creating educational bridges to allow for Jewish growth throughout the learner's life?" (Moskowitz, 1998, p. 189).
Flexibility and Movement
In recognition of the fact that developing curriculum can be messy, just like cooking, UbD notes that you can begin stage 3 of the design process using any jumping off point. Wiggins and McTighe note, "In an important sense it doesn't matter where you enter the design process and how you proceed; it only matters that you end with a coherent product" (p. 255).
Doorways to Design
A Curriculum in Motion
Curriculum is not designed as a static object. It is a course to be run, but it is also a course that, at its best, is dynamic and changing. The curriculum needs to be flexible to adjust to changing realities, adapt to student needs, and respond to ongoing feedback. Both the curriculum development process and its implementation involve a spiral, iterative pattern that encourages feedback and promotes alignment with broader educational goals and vision.
The Spirals of Curriculum Design
Cooking a Curriculum
Wiggins and McTighe note that just like the process of developing a recipe requires experimentation and trial and error, the same is true for designing curricula. They write, "As an example of how process and product differ in UbD, think of the difference between process and product in cookbooks. Cooks play with ideas, test out possibilities, and eventually produce recipes written up in the familiar step-by-step format. Note, however, that the recipe is not developed in a purely sequential manner. Much trial and error occurs as various combinations of ingredients, temperatures, and timings are tried...Cooking from scratch is truly a messy process! The 'mess' is transformed into a recipe through backward design: If someone else, other than the creator is to replicate the meal, what needs to be done, in what order? Though the process for coming up with the recipe is messy, the final product of the chef's work is presented to the home cook in a uniform and efficient step-by-step recipe format. Similarly, the UbD Template provides a format for self-assessing and sharing the final design 'recipe,' but not a history of how the design work unforlded over time (or how any work 'should' proceed)." (UbD p. 255).
When you think about stretching, it is clear that the process of movement of our bodies both requires and promotes flexibility. The same is true with the process of movement in the development and implementation of curriculum. As Moskowitz writes, "Curriculum is not static...even if put into written form. Shulman notes, 'The essential value of curriculum is how it permits teachers to adapt, invent, and transform as they confront the realities of classroom life'"
(p. 189). So, as you proceed with developing your curriculum, remember to stay flexible and keep moving!
Continually Revisiting the
Even though the design process may begin by entering through a particular doorway, there is no definitive end to curriculum design. Effective design involves an iterative cycle of assessment and revision based ongoing feedback.
While UbD does not enforce a singular starting point for the design process, there are 6 potential doorways that are shared as ways to get started:
An important topic or content
An important skill or process
A favorite activity or familiar unit
A key text or resource
A significant test
Established goals or content standards.
One way to approach the design of the curricular scope and sequence is through a spiral curriculum. As noted in UbD, "A spiral approach develops curriculum around recurring, ever-deepening inquiries into big ideas and important tasks, helping students come to understanding in a way that is both effective and developmentally wise...The same ideas and materials are revisited in more and more complex ways to arrive at sophisticated judgments and products" (p. 297).