Creating Engaging Curriculum: A More Perfect World
Recently I revised my A More Perfect World curriculum unit. I reformatted it to a Weebly website for ease of access and update the links and web tools.
This unit is driven by several of my core beliefs regarding effective instructional practices:
- Reading as Choice: Reading is such an amazing gift we have as humans and way too many students don’t like to read for their own pleasure and learning. Reading engagement and enjoyment are increased when students are permitted to choose what they read. No single practice inspires my students to read as much as the opportunity to choose their own books (Becoming a Classroom of Readers).
- Choices in Learning Content: Choice in how the content is learned increases engagement and intrinsic motivation. Students should be given choices as to how to learn the content. Content should be presented to learners in a variety of ways: readings, videos, graphics with the only expectation that they learn it in a way that works for them. This is in line with Universal Design for Learning Principle: Provide Multiple Means of Representation.
- Choices in Expressing Knowledge and Competency: Choice in how the learner demonstrates his or her knowledge of the content increases engagement and intrinsic motivation. Learners should be given a choice as to how they want to and can express what they learned about the content based on their own styles, interests, and strengths. This is in line with the Universal Design for Learning Principle: Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression.
- Student Interest: Incorporating student interests into the curriculum increases relevancy. Curiosity and thus learning thrive when connected to and/or emergent from contexts which are familiar and meaningful to the learner (The Importance of Engaging Students’ Interest in their Learning). In this case, this unit incorporate the current interest of many young people in dystopian fiction as well as gives them opportunities to delve into their own interest areas throughout the lessons.
- Project-Based Learning: Project-based learning is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges, simultaneously developing cross-curriculum skills. Because project-based learning is filled with active and engaged learning, it inspires students to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they’re studying. Research also indicates that students are more likely to retain the knowledge gained through this approach far more readily than through traditional textbook-centered learning. (Why Teach with Project-Based Learning?: Providing Students With a Well-Rounded Classroom Experience). For more about project-based learning, see my curated Scoopit on Project-Based Learning and my post Is It Project-Based Learning, Maker Education or Just Projects?
- Drawing on Learners’ Idealism; Desire for a Better World: Many young people think about ways to create a better world. Idealism is a developmental milestone of adolescence. Young adolescents are idealistic at this stage, and they are quick to point out what is fair and what is not. Their idealism pours into asking questions about the meaning of life, questions for which there are not definitive answers. They also become inwardly reflective about who they are and the roles they play. It is a great stage of life and a great opportunity and challenge to meet the needs of these young adolescents (Adolescent Development). These ideas should be integrated into the learning setting.
- Arts Integration: Arts integration is highly effective in engaging and motivating students. The arts provide students multiple modes for demonstrating learning and competency. A rich array of arts skills and intellectual processes provide multiple entry points for students linking to content in other subject areas. Similarly, arts instruction is deepened through integration of content from the other subject areas. It enlivens the teaching and learning experience for entire school communities. At its best, arts integration is transformative for students, teachers and communities. The imaginations and creative capacities of teachers and students are nurtured and their aspirations afforded many avenues for realization and recognition (Creating an Arts Integration School).