Welcome to The Art of Curriculum Design.
In this six month series, we explore the fundamentals of curriculum design, via an Arts Appreciation course created through arts collaboration. So, last week we defined the language to be used throughout the series (see intro article here), and this week we will take a look at why curriculum needs to be designed. Course curriculum needs constant revision based on the needs of the students, and this revision is what we are considering curriculum development. However, what happens when the course offerings are not satisfying the needs of the student body? That is when curriculum design comes into play. For this series, curriculum design is considered the creation of course objectives, activities, and assessments in a standards-based backward manner.
Curriculum design begins with identifying a specific problem, and finding a solution that addresses a specific need. For this series, we will address the following background, problem, and solution.
-Background: In order to graduate high school, there is a series of expected coursework that must be completed. One course that is required to complete high school expectations is Art. Traditionally, this demand can be met by a Visual or Performing Arts course. The course offerings vary at each school, but many include one or more of the following: drawing, painting, ceramics, graphic art, vocal music, instrumental music, theater, or dance.
-Problem: Students are placed into a visual or performing arts course even though they may have no desire to create art. The rationale is that students at least try the creation process, however adolescents are generally old enough to know whether or not they wish to display art. So, how can we help students satisfy the arts credit without making them take to the stage?
-Solution: Design a course that cultivates the appreciation of the arts through arts exposure without forcing performance.
Cue… Arts Appreciation!
Unfortunately, many of our performance arts students had no desire to perform making them unsuccessful in our courses. So, after our first year, theater teacher Martha Kelly and I (dance) realized there was a great need for a course that satisfies the arts credit without putting students on stage. There are various Arts Appreciation courses offered in educational institutions, but we really wanted to create a course that helped students appreciate the arts, and further advocate for the arts through real-world experience and application of knowledge.
Through the “backwards planning model”, we designed a course that addresses our problem. This was quite the exciting process, and over the next six months we will break down the objectives, activities, and assessments we designed to create this course. Ultimately, helping students not only successfully earn their arts credit, but also gain an appreciation of the performing arts, further instilling the value of arts advocacy.
Piquès & Pirouettès
Next Week: The Art of Curriculum Design: The “How”
Next week we will take a look the How of curriculum design by exploring the steps of the backward planning model to create a full course curriculum.
Typhani Harris is a dance educator and mentor teacher who has been on the boards of both the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (CAHPERD) and California Dance Education Association (CDEA). Recently, she has made a cross-country move and is now an instructional coach in Brooklyn, New York. Having begun as a high school English teacher, it has been her mission to bring theory and research into the traditional dance class, and in 2009 she won the Music Center’s Bravo award for excellence in Arts Education. Typhani is currently on a mission to help teachers Stop Teaching and Start Reaching their students, check out the unTeacher Lab at stopteaching.org