This report is a summary of the Curriculum Management Plan (CMP), created by teachers and curriculum writers at Saskatchewan Education to help teachers in multigraded classrooms manage new curricula. The report describes how and why the CMP was developed. The Common Essential Learnings, broad concepts and objectives from the Required Areas of Study, instructional strategies, evaluation and assessment were considered by teachers of multigraded classrooms, and curriculum writers in three sessions. Following each session, over a period of three years, the resulting products, a comprehensive chart and booklet, were presented and distributed to teachers on Hutterite colonies for use and review. The chart outlines concepts and objectives for the Required Areas of Study (grades 1-9). The booklet provides sample unit overviews and complements the underlying theme of integration of instruction. The chart and booklet demonstrate the interrelatedness of different subject areas and show how integrated units of study may be used to plan instruction. The materials are designed to be a springboard for ongoing discussion among teachers of split or multigraded classrooms. Applied in the classroom, they support resource-based instruction.
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After a day in the classroom, a teacher planning instruction, while surveying the shelf laden with curriculum guides for various subject areas, will surely wish there was some way the guides could be integrated into a comprehensive whole. After all, the children being taught come that way! If the wish continues, and the dream expands, instructional strategies, and evaluation may be included. And, why stop there? As long as you're dreaming, add unit plans! Then reality sets in, and the teacher concedes what a staggering amount of work it would be to pull the guides into one. Certainly this would be impossible for one individual. If the teacher's classroom is one of split grades, or the multigraded classroom found on Hutterite colonies, the shelves of curriculum guides are also multiplied, as is the enormity of the task.
Happily, the comprehensive whole is found in the Curriculum Management Plan (CMP). A project of English teachers on colonies, with help from curriculum writers, it is the above dream come true.
Teachers of multigraded classrooms see a wide spread in the ability and skills of their students. The curricula from which they draw is grade and subject specific. The CMP is designed to integrate the concepts and objectives from the Required Areas of Study of Saskatchewan's Core Curriculum. A developmental continuum framework guides the instructional planning for Grades 1-9. It is a plan for managing the curriculum.
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The CMP was created to help teachers in multigrade classrooms manage new curricula. The call for changes in the curriculum, while recognized as necessary, intensifies an already stress - filled situation. Teachers are often frustrated because they recognize in the curricula an excellent resource, but to utilize it to its best advantage seems a formidable task. Teachers find planning for their multigrade classrooms a full-time job. A typical Hutterite colony teacher who has eight grades and teaches five subjects has forty lessons to prepare! Although students might be grouped, this method of organizing instruction often demands more time than these teachers have, for both instruction and preparation. Teachers and curriculum writers felt a document showing the broad objectives of the curriculum on a developmental continuum would help the teachers as they planned instruction to meet their students' needs.
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The Curriculum Management Plan consists of two components:
1) A CHART Which outlines:
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Interrelatedness of Framework Components
The Common Essential Leamings permeate all curricula and instruction. When choosing objectives and abilities from the chart to develop in a unit, it is also necessary to consider which C.E.L.s to emphasize. Many objectives from develop both subject area and C.E.L.s understandings.
The chart framework has a Language Arts base. The Language Arts contexts
(communicative, historical, social, etc.) provide the framework for the
English Language Arts language-based curriculum.
Classroom learning experiences can be organized into units which are related to, or developed under, these contexts. The contexts frequently integrate with one another and with other subject areas. The teacher chooses the strategies and determines the activities by which language arts knowledge, abilities and processes are developed.
Objectives and concepts are developed through the subject area content. In a local history study the concept "heritage" included in the Social Studies curriculum for Grades 4-6 may be readily integrated with the objectives "to increase the students' ability to question, infer, use listening to gather information from a variety of sources". Using interviews as an activity, a media interview may be viewed, followed by a discussion of its success or failure. An actual interview may be planned, with role playing beforehand. These might be suitable activities and instructional strategies to meet the objectives of English Language Arts and Social Studies. Objectives of both the concept and abilities need to be clearly understood by the children.
Evaluation is dependent on both the method and objective of instruction. If, as in the example, the objective was oral, an oral evaluation would be appropriate.
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To become familiar with the philosophy of the respective areas of study before developing units, a teacher might begin with the overviews and goals of subject areas found in the booklet. The respective subject area curriculum guides may be referred to for more detail. The chart and booklet provide focus for use of individual subject area curriculum guides. Skills may be built on from one unit to the next. New skills may be taught as appropriate.
The description of the Futures study is one model of one way in which the chart and booklet may be used in planning.
The Futures Theme
The Futures theme is planned for grades 1-9. Whole group activities may be used to initiate a concept, followed by activities that meet individual needs. All or any one of the English Language Arts contexts may be addressed in the Futures theme, and many concepts can be tied to any one of the contexts. For example, in the Environmental context we might consider change. Changes occur at all times in our environment, and this concept may be approached in a number of ways, depending on the level of the learner. Decision making is another concept that could be taught in this context. Students need to practise making decisions about real issues. This provides opportunity for them to see that good decision making practices result in positive change. Looking under the Dimensions and Factors of Scientific Literacy, you will find the concept interaction right across the continuum. Under Processes of Science, you will find the abilities describing and communication, also across the continuum. These are but a few of the concepts and abilities compatible with the Futures theme.
A variety of instructional strategies could be used to teach the concept change. Brainstorming is a strategy that lends itself to whole group, multigrade levels in that it accommodates all levels of development. Brainstorming changes in their surroundings would meet the children's interests and needs. Most children are observant and love to talk about what they see. The Futures theme may incorporate a variety of instructional methods chosen from the diagram on the chart. These include:
Suggested activities to meet abilities objectives are found under the developmental continuum in the document.
An integrated study unit may be planned beginning anywhere on the chart: with objectives, C.E.L.s, contexts, or instructional strategies. A topic the children suggest or a current issue of interest may be developed as a theme to teach the broad objectives and provide activities to teach skills. The chart may also serve as a checklist following the teaching of a theme both for what objectives have been met and which need to be addressed in the future. It may be added to as other important objectives are determined, and it will become more meaningful with use. As already mentioned, the booklet provides a unit planning guide and some guidelines for planning for multigrades. These will direct you to curriculum guides which are excellent resources.
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The teachers participating in the project found the process of creating the materials valuable in that they became more familiar with the philosophy and overviews of the subject areas as well as instructional strategies and evaluation techniques. It is suggested that teachers begin with one subject area and spend as much as a year becoming acquainted with its philosophy and overview as they build instructional strategies and appropriate evaluation techniques into their own and the children's repertoires. Different areas of study may be integrated into the topics as appropriate. The next four images are excerpts from the framework chart, and a sample planning chart.
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Following the development of the CMP may increase your understanding of the document, and how it may prove helpful when planning instruction.
Teachers and curriculum writers met in Regina in 1991. The first step was to familiarize the eight teachers with the philosophy of core curriculum. Some time was spent reviewing the Common Essential Leamings: technological literacy, numeracy, communication, critical and creative thinking, personal and social values and skills, and independent learning. We understood these leamings are incorporated in the subject areas. They are to be developed over the student's school years. It was the beginning of a common foundation from which teachers and curriculum writers could work together with the learning objectives of the curricula, those of developing both concepts and skills.
The first curriculum to be discussed was the English Language Arts since language is required for understanding all subjects. Teams of teachers considered the grades 1, 2-3, 4-6, 7-9, Language Arts curricula concepts and objectives. All of the broad objectives were included. These were arranged on a framework horizontally by the grade distinctions mentioned earlier. Vertically, the objectives were divided into speaking, listening, reading, writing, and response components.
The following image depicts an excerpt from the 1991 framework, indicating codes, and the vertical and horizontal divisions.
The next step was an orientation for the teachers by some of the writers to the social studies curriculum. A preliminary philosophical overview helped when the teams again drew the objectives from the social studies curricula. Teachers became aware that some of the objectives were considered to be important in both subject areas. The objectives and concepts were marked with a code designated to each subject area. The science curriculum was treated in a similar manner, and again the important concepts and processes were noted.
In some cases particular objectives were considered important for all three areas of study. The crossover was apparent in several grades. Teachers realized what valuable and unprecedented professional development was occurring in the understanding they were gaining of the philosophy, as well as the scope and sequence of the guides with which they were working. They were becoming familiar with curricula that was in the draft stages, and were able to view and manage curricula in its entirety - from the Common Essential Learnings to the Required Areas of Study. In addition, they were introduced to instructional strategies to facilitate the learning for their students. The group was convinced not only of the importance of the undertaking but also of its magnitude. It was agreed that the experience of working with the curriculum writers and the curriculum in this manner was most useful. The comprehensive view of curricula the teachers were experiencing was being creatively and dramatically reproduced on the chart. They were a part of the entire process.
In 1991, the draft framework was completed, with the Common Essential Leamings (C.E.L.s) supporting as a canopy the concepts and objectives of the three areas of study. The four social studies components (content/concepts, skills/abilities, attitudes/ values, citizen action) and the English Language Arts contexts (communicative, historical, imaginative, etc.) were added to the chart along with a diagram depicting instructional strategies.
A guidebook to accompany the framework included details that could not be shown on the chart such as:
Regional meetings were held during the 1991-92 school year to provide feedback on the materials and to develop instructional units.
In June of 1992, a group of nine teachers met with curriculum developers/writers from Saskatchewan Education to review the project to date and to incorporate changes to the materials. The chart and its accompanying booklet showing management of Grades 1-9 English Language Arts, social studies, and science curricula were reviewed and revised.
Mathematics was integrated into the materials. The Mathematics strands, a Mathematics overview and suggestions for integration across areas of study, were added to the booklet. The Common Essential Leamings, resource-based learning, instructional strategies, and evaluation techniques were considered from the perspective of the demands of the area of study. The appendix added to the guidebook showed three sample unit overviews with sample lessons which had been planned by the teachers for grades 1-9 classrooms with the help of curriculum writers. Two were built around broad social studies concepts such as "Identity" and "Tradition". The third is a Mathematics Integrated Unit Web. Another appendix contains specific learning objectives which address each Common Essential Learning.
By now the teachers involved in the project were able to see how the framework was a resource that could be used as a final reference or as a guide when developing units. They had experienced first-hand the planning of theme-based units of study that met curriculum goals as well as the learning needs and interests of their students. They had become more familiar with workable instructional strategies and evaluation techniques for a Grades 1-9 classroom.
A half-day workshop was planned for October, 1992, to introduce the new and revised materials to Hutterian teachers.
Another review took place in 1993. Health, Arts Education, and Physical Education were integrated with the existing framework. Scope and sequence for K-6 health, the three components and four strands of Arts Education, Physical Education, time allotments and movement patterns were added to the booklet in outline form. Pages II and 12 show excerpts of the 1993 chart framework, and a sample planning chart.
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Implications for the Future
Broad concepts and objectives from the Required Areas of Study, Grades 1-9 are covered by these documents. They may be accessed from any subject area, instructional strategy, evaluative technique. The chart illustrates how diverse learnings are related, advancing to mutual goals. Varying content and differing instructional approaches are legitimated in the light of the goals. Educators are becoming more aware of and understand the creative value of the CMP. Teachers see it as a means to meeting the needs of their pupils.
Numbers of split and multigrade classrooms in Saskatchewan are increasing, and the chart and booklet may be used to good advantage by the teachers of these classrooms while planning instruction. SHEA has agreed to arrange for teachers on colonies to meet again with SaskEd curriculum writers to review what has been done, evaluate the document and how teachers are using it. New curricula which has appeared since its inception will be incorporated. In June, 1997, focus will be on Mathematics and English Language Arts at the Middle Level.
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