Curriculum Design for Teachers
There are three prerequisites to planning your classroom curriculum. First, it is best that you know your students—their cultural and economic backgrounds and their general family situation—as well as your students' ability levels, interests, maturity, prior knowledge and experience, and special needs or necessary accommodations. You may need to begin your long-range planning, however, before you know all this in the detail that you'd like. Regardless, your job is to design and enact a classroom program that will not only meet the needs of your students but also motivate them to want to keep learning.
Second, to plan the classroom curriculum, you will need to know the subject matter that you will teach, that is, the content. Content is the body of facts, concepts, skills, habits of mind, and so forth that represent what you will teach. For elementary teachers, it is likely that you will be ahead of your students to start with, but it is still necessary for you to study and update yourself on the content that you will be teaching. You should also review your state standards and local district or school curriculum guides.
Third, you will need to be aware of what materials you have and what equipment is available. It makes a difference, for example, if you'll have an Internet-connected Smart Board in your classroom or still have to rely upon the chalkboard. Available technology, software, audiovisuals, science equipment, measuring tools, math manipulatives, library resources—all make a difference. And don't forget to consider your local community's resources, such as museums, zoos, nature centers, parks, guest speakers, and volunteers. And it makes a difference whether or not you have help from a teacher mentor or a teacher aide.
Finally, keep in mind that long-range planning is considered within a larger frame than the school day. One larger frame is the week, while another is the grading period—which could be six weeks, a quarter (nine weeks), or a semester. An example of framing instruction into a weekly schedule is the teacher who, on Monday, introduces the content that is to be addressed by Friday and the assignments students will complete by then. Assignments might include readings, searching for information online or in the library, and responding someway in writing to the concepts and skills being studied.
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