What Makes a Good Curriculum?

By: Carole Geneix
03/31/2017

(This blog post comes from Carole Geneix, Director of Teaching and Learning at Washington International School’s Tregaron campus. Carole writes a weekly blog called Tregaron Educators, which documents teaching and learning across the Middle and Upper schools at WIS.)

Curriculum Design

—At WIS, we have the opportunity to use a unique online curriculum tool that we designed ourselves to fit our present and future needs. Many schools and educators are interested in it. Unlike other curriculum platforms, our map:
  • invites generosity and collaboration
  • enacts the big idea of design thinking, allowing for comments, revisions, looking at a revision history and reflections
  • provides data and keyword search to build a strong horizontal and vertical articulation
  • enables internal and external hyperlinks to weave the “fabric” of our teaching and learning
—In the past two months I have had the privilege to read most of our 800+ units and comment on them. Each unit starts with “big unit-long questions” aimed at developing deep understanding of the topic under study. Below are a few examples.
 
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Some questions break the classroom walls: 

How does our knowledge of DNA help us frame 
and make sense of the world around us? 
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How do I build mathematical models (formulae or equations) 
that represent real-life situations 
involving exponential growth or decay? 
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Some invite students to reflect beyond the subject area: 

How do I translate or record what I “see”? 
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Some have an explicit cultural component: 

In what ways have people used music to express their values 
and describe their cultural experiences?
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What identities, if any, are permanent 
and which do we have the power to change?
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Some find echoes in current events: 
What are lessons from the Civil Rights movement 
that can be applied to activism today? 
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Some specifically address ways we learn together in a classroom setting: 
How will we communicate asynchronously? 
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Some address ways we learn together outside school:
How can you move together in a group 
to facilitate a specific dance? 
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Some make students reflect on society or government:
What policy tools are available to promote development?
How does literature serve as social commentary? 
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Some are simply delightfully puzzling! 
What is food technology? 
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There are some more questions here featuring all subjects in both divisions.

The Fun Corner

Today, during Middle School assembly, all Houses were invited up to perform their cheer, demonstrate their handshake and explain their logo. The teams also participated in a challenge: mummify your teacher using toilet paper. Below is a 1-mn video of this very exciting event!