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Planning a Curriculum Unit – It Is Rocket Science

March 02, 2023
Students reading books at a desk

Written by Associate Head of School Elizabeth Clayton

When CRS teachers create curriculum plans that will guide the work our children do in class, we consider many things and ask many different questions. For example:

  • What is the essential question we want students to ponder?
  • What content knowledge do we want students to gain?  What background knowledge will they need?
  • What skills will students need to have to complete the work?
  • What new skills will the students be learning?
  • What approach will be most engaging to the students in any given class?
  • How will these concepts be connected to previous learning and lead to future learning?
  • How can we create experiences in which the students are teaching each other and making their own meaning?
  • How can we make the topic relevant to the student’s lives?
  • How can students apply the skills they learn?
  • How will we assess the content learning and skill acquisition of individual students?

At CRS, these essential questions (and, if you can believe it, more!) are often related to the overall theme for the year. Information about skills comes from our various scope and sequence documents, which are developed through ongoing work and conversation among the faculty.  By keeping abreast of best practices in education through professional development and staying in close contact with each other, we document the skills that students should be learning each year.  Making sure that those skills are included in curriculum outcomes is an important aspect of planning for the classroom, and making sure that our students have engaging and challenging experiences applying those skills to different situations is where CRS teachers really shine.  Creativity and expertise are brought to bear as we design experiences for students to learn and use new skills; discuss, understand, and connect with novel content material; and feel that just-right level of challenge.  While the teaching and learning of grade-level skills is always a factor in planning curriculum, CRS teachers are also focused on growing the ability of our students to think critically and build their own foundation of understanding.