Sage Advice: Deciding What Students Learn

What factors should drive the curriculum we teach?

What factors should drive the curriculum we teach?

Only one thing matters. The needs of our students.

Bill Burdick

Language arts teacher
Perseus House Charter School
Erie, Pennsylvania

The talents and abilities the future will demand of our students, as determined by ongoing feedback from alumni and the larger community.

Bill Betzen

Computer-applications teacher
Raul Quintanilla Middle School
Dallas, Texas

The requirements of responsible citizenship! Public schools were designed to prepare the future citizens of our country, and the world. It is easy to lose sight of that in the midst of the clamor over standards, funding, and accountability. It is crucial that educators constantly examine the demands of responsible citizenship, and adjust their curricula to meet those demands.

Scott A. Laliberte

Assistant principal
Gilford Elementary School
Gilford, New Hampshire

The factors that drive my curriculum are all data driven: first, the assessment of the skills the students arrive with to my class, then meeting them where they are, with priority given to skills that will be tested in March on the state comprehensive assessment.

Debbie Perry

Math teacher
Stranahan High School
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The driving force behind curriculum is determining students' needs using the African principle of sankofa, looking behind to clearly envision the future. Advancements in curricular design are spurred on by assessing our changing world. Young people are inheriting one that is smaller and glutted with information. To go beyond simply regurgitating facts is key to empowering youths. By taking those facts and processing them, they can begin asking why, how, and so what? Those are the questions that change passive consumers into critical evaluators.

Beverley Mowatt-Plaskett

Director of math and technology curriculum
Windward School
White Plains, New York

Too many times, we're wrapped up in what makes our lives and jobs easier rather than how we can make the kids love learning -- particularly our subject -- and help them achieve and excel in both school and life. The effect on students should be the number-one gauge when any decision is made regarding schools.

Brian Drumbore

Band director
Mount Pleasant High School
Wilmington, Delaware

We should consider first what is developmentally appropriate for each grade level, then what ways are developmentally appropriate to teach that developmentally appropriate curriculum. Too many "developmentally appropriate's" in this short response? Not nearly enough!

Linda Mackenzie

Full-day kindergarten teacher
Blakely Elementary School
Bainbridge Island, Washington

The prime factor to be considered is the relevance of the material to the lives of our learners. Unless there is a way learners can recognize an actual connection between the material and their real life, they will have no interest in the material. Once something is relevant, then we need to attend to the comprehensibility for all. Of course, we need to tie this material to the accountability measures, but learning simply for the sake of learning is always valuable.

Susan Just

Teacher
San Antonio, Texas

Social behavior and geological issues should be at the forefront of student learning. Children should be taught to question information and validate "facts" posed to them via their textbooks, the Internet, the news media, and the advertising community. Also, our children should acquire the ability to identify systems and how they behave -- cause-and-effect relationships. Proficiency in this skill will enable our children to excel in sciences of all types.

Kay Lera

Instructional-technology specialist
Waynesboro Public Schools
Waynesboro, Virginia
extra search terms: 
lesson planning, curriculum reform, deciding on a curriculum, factors of a curriculum
Table of Contents
Magazine Issue: 
Oct 2006: Technology in Action
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Sage Advice

Comments (5)

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Kindergartren teacher from California

I think every classroom is

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I think every classroom is unique, just like every student. You have to use assessment to determine the student needs and use state standards as a framework or guideline to drive your teaching. If give to tools students will rise to the bar no matter how high

Rick Auvil (not verified)

Arts Educator (Music/Drama 7-12)

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We can see the future of our students by examining our own lives. The things we value as adults will eventually become the things valued by our youth. Therefore I question schools which omit, or minimalize, the the importance of the arts in all forms (music, art, theater, and dance). The essence of all art is creativity. In order to be creative students must practice imagination, focus, determination, improvisation, flexibility, constructive reasoning, and many other very important human attributes. Again, examine your adult life; how often have you had to use these skills to overcome important situations? Now, reevaluate the importance of the arts in our schools.

Gess Healey (not verified)

What's the most important thing we can teach?

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Imagine if students were versed in Media Literacy and Civics we probably wouldn't be at war. Understanding the media, the history of media, and the media's responsibility to the public for using the public's airwaves would help US understand Civics, Government, and Economics because citizens would have multiple perspectives to keep them informed and therefore, make decisions on the future of our country and its place in the world.

Gess Healey (not verified)

2nd Grade-Self-contained classroom

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Imagine if students were savvy in Media Literacy and Civics we probably wouldn't be at war.

karen Squires-Sanders (not verified)

My classroom is also data

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My classroom is also data driven. It reminds me of th "vomit it up" method I was warned agaisnt when I began teaching. The information is cramed in and thrown up on an assessment. There is pressure to complete certain lessons by certain dates. I do my best to make time in my lesons to build connections to help ensure true learning and understanding.

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