One place for everything(ish)
Hopefully, you have read my first blog about designing a new curriculum. I hope that in some small way it was useful. This is the second part of that blog and outlines the development of a whole school curriculum planner and the changes that were made as we started filling it in. I have also tried to expand on my own curriculum thinking by drawing some more curriculum diagrams to explore the differences in the old curriculum we had, other curriculum models and our new thinking. I am sharing these in case they are useful for anyone else.
The development and thinking behind the one page curriculum plan
Anyone who has been in teaching as long as I have will start to recognise a sheet with topics along one side and subjects along the other. It is a reassuringly familiar medium-term or long-term planning format. This also started to worry me a little as it did feel like we were somehow back at where we started. However, we are not. The emphasis and purpose of this curriculum is quite different with vertical subject strands being the priority, enabling us to create a coherent narrative in each subject and allow children to build up complex schema.
A tour of the planning tool
Originally, we planned to have a spreadsheet for each subject. However, I was worried that we would end up with too many documents and any future changes would be hard to track. I decided to put all subjects on one spreadsheet so you could read vertically to see the subject narratives and horizontally to see where subject matter was being looked at from the viewpoint of different subjects – forming topics of various sizes
I then intend to get excel to automatically create topic overviews and subject strand overviews by linking cells to this master spreadsheet.
Subject Strand additions
Within an hour or so of using the spreadsheet, staff have started having detailed curriculum conversations about subject strands they feel need creating, how English and Maths would work on the planner and much more. So, we now have an extra vertical strand for History called Timeline – as we felt that we want to think carefully how we develop children’s chronological map of history.
For English we have decided that Grammar is already clearly mapped in the National Curriculum, and in our writing tracking system so we have started with three strands for now – Class reading book, Writing Genre, Vocabulary development. I am sure these will change over the next few weeks.
Let’s look at the planner
Within each strand we have the key concepts that are likely to be revisited in this strand and have made them easily accessible for teachers and subject leaders when planning and reviewing the curriculum.
Now we just need to fill it in and see what we come up with. Exiting times! I will blog again about the One Sheet Curriculum Planner once we have ‘finished’ this part of the process. We are starting by looking at next term and then extending out to fill the 2 year rolling program.
During this process I have seen many other school’s curriculum models and their long-term and medium-term plans. They challenged my thinking and are alternative ways of building a curriculum. However, although grateful to colleagues for sharing, myself and our SLT decided that this wasn’t the direction we wanted to take. I have drawn a few diagrams to discuss the differences as I see them.
Skills led vs Knowledge led
I have seen curriculum designs where there is a progression of skills making the vertical links within a subject at times I have wondered if this is a better way of approaching the curriculum. Until I thought back to one of Clare Sealy’s blogs which talked about how we have misunderstood Bloom’s Taxonomy. So, I drew this diagram.
Teaching sequence design.
I have briefly touched on teaching sequences previously, but as a school we are now fast approaching the time to create our new teaching sequences. At the moment my list of things that should be considered is like this:
Do they remember previous learning? Can they remember key knowledge for this unit of work?
- The ‘previously’ – what came before and how is it relevant now?
- Spaced retrieval – has it worked? What knowledge should be repeated? Do we need to revise previous knowledge?
- Interleaving – interrupting the forgetting with previously learnt knowledge – especially in Maths and Grammar
- Comprehensions – using reading comprehension to support knowledge aquisition
- Setting the scene – telling them the facts of the unit and the bigger picture
- Pre-teaching – supporting knowledge acquisition for all
Supporting their learning
- Working walls/displays – how do we make them work well for pupils?
- Step-by-step guides – produced with the children
- Word banks – of tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary
- Cooperative learning strategies – giving them agency
- Edtech – how can programs like Spark from Scintilla.ai support children
- Topic books – non-fiction – to aid comprehension and broaden learning
- Cognitive load – keep input/learning focussed and efficient – better to learn less well!
- Horizontal links
- Purpose – can they produce something that shows their understanding of the subject through the subject matter being studied?
- The narrative so far – can they bring together knowledge from the whole strand?
I end with a question. How do we give our pupils agency?
Knowledge curation as preparation for working in a knowledge economy.
A major consideration moving forward is how we give our pupils a sense of agency within our curriculum. How do we allow them to contribute to the learning and add their own knowledge, ideas, misconceptions, insights, questions, cultural capital into their curriculum so that they understand that the knowledge is theirs, not the school’s. It belongs to the world, as they do. How do we do this without teaching sequences become unwieldy and unfocussed?