One of the most valuable acts we can do as teachers is to write curriculum. And it really is an action – it requires thought, alignment, process, collaboration, and accountability. This is what makes writing curriculum so challenging and rewarding at the same time. Trying to write curriculum that is integrated contains a whole new level of knowledge, skill and reflection. This is because you need to have a clear and deep understanding of two or more standards and how they interact with each other. Whew – just processing that sentence takes a minute! But when we write a lesson, a unit or a whole integrated curriculum, alignment is the propeller that makes teaching the content standards successful.
Standards vs. Outcomes
There is a difference between a standard and an outcome. It seems obvious, but many times these two things can be confused with each other. The standard is the skill that is required to be met to have an understanding of the content. An outcome is what you want students to know and be able to do based upon a selected standard.
For instance, if my standard is “Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension” (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.4.4 ), my objective might look like this: “Students will be able to analyze cause and effect relationships through fluent reading of the selected text with limited accuracy errors.”
In this example, we’re using a simple template for the outcome that includes the:
a.) Cognitive domain (analyze)
b.) Targeted concept/skill (cause and effect relationships)
c.) The activity (fluent reading of selected text)
d.) A measurement of success (limited accuracy errors)
….and it all connects back to my original standard.
Finding Your Standards
When focusing on creating an integrated lesson, unit or curriculum, being able to find sets of standards is critical. We highly recommend the following sources for finding and referencing standards for alignment:
Make a Splash…a Big One.
As you work this year at refining your lessons, creating curriculum, or stepping into integrated writing, I urge you to continually ask yourself “what standard am I addressing in this _____________ (outcome, activity, assessment, etc)?” and to use this as a way to remain true to the content you are teaching.
So often, we can get lost in the excitement of the activity that we lose sight of the purpose of our lesson. Keep your work aligned and the payoff for your students in their mastery of skills and processes will be worth the effort!
Looking to learn more about how to integrate your curriculum and gather more templates/resources like these? Sign up for our Engineering an Integrated Curriculum online class – worth 3 graduate credits or 120 CPU hours.
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.